Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
Brian Micklethwait on Big Things blocked by the trees of Southwark Park
Carolyn Mohr on The ups and downs of English
Michael Jennings on Big Things blocked by the trees of Southwark Park
priscila on The ups and downs of English
Simon Gibbs on Wedding photography (4): Preparations
6000 on Bookshops as Amazon showrooms
Darren on Bookshops as Amazon showrooms
Michael Jennings on Wedding photography (2): Signs
MarkR on Feynman Diagrams on the Feynman van
MNB Achari on Google Nexus 4 photos
Most recent entries
- Big Things blocked by the trees of Southwark Park
- Wedding photography (4): Preparations
- Bookshops as Amazon showrooms
- Reflections on a strange coincidence involving an Android app and a malfunctioning bus stop sign
- Feynman Diagrams on the Feynman van
- Rothko Toast
- Wedding photography (3): Technology as sculpture
- And another posting from my smartphone
- Posted from my new smartphone
- Google Nexus 4 photos
- Wedding photography (2): Signs
- Wedding photography (1): The superbness of the weather
- A Fleet Street lunch
- So painters also used to “take” pictures
- Funniest run out ever?
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6000 Miles from Civilisation
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Adventures in Capitalism
Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise
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Category archive: The Micklethwait Clock
Well, that was one weird weekend.
If you dislike blog postings which ramble on and off in all directions at excessive length, then you had perhaps better stop reading this one now, because as I start writing this, I have a lot of things in my head that I now want to ramble on about.
For starters, I’m back being ill. A sort of permanent throat distortion, that makes coughing a constant thought. It never accomplishes anything, but I keep wanting to do it. More troublingly, I am starting to have mild stomach pains and headaches. A combination of the flue bug that is doing the rounds, and mild hypochondria, probably. (Although, a friend has now suggested that Lemsip might also be the culprit.)
Next up: my sleep patterns are shot to hell. Despite not having left London for about a year, I am now jet-lagged. The recent see-saw cricket match between England and Australia in Australia put the tin lid on that tin, but the tin was already there and filled with nocturnal wakefulness, put there by the extreme difficulty of getting to sleep when in bed, hugely exacerbated by that throat thing. Sleeping in my armchair early in the evening, with the television as likely as not blaring away, easy. Getting into bed, switching off the light, and then sleeping, not so easy. Hence the temptation of not even trying to go to bed until I really am very, very tired, and confident of getting quickly to sleep once the light is switched off, in other words very, very late. And once you do that a few times you’re stuck.
In the small and getting bigger small hours of Saturday morning, I decided to (a) attack the problem of non-productivity during the wide-awake dead-of-night and (b) thereby stay awake so long that I could solve the jet lag problem by adding another huge gob of it and cancelling it out, instead of vainly trying to subtract from it. Sleep all day Saturday, starting as late as possible, and get to bed at a proper time Sunday evening. That was the plan.
So, at about 5 am on Saturday morning, instead of going to bed, I wrote a (though I say it myself) ripsnorter of a posting for Samizdata called They are not liberals and they are not progressives, and then added what seemed to me to be a pertinent SQotD for good measure. In an early comment on the liberals/progressives posting, I expressed the hope that I might get lucky with linkage in the USA.
Meanwhile England had been taken apart in the cricket. This was the night (i.e. Australian day) when Hussey and Haddin were making their 300 stand. The blogging was partly an attempt to take my mind off that horror.
Finally, at about 9 am, I went to bed, the video set to capture all the rugby during the day on the telly, ...
To be awakened at about 10 fucking am by fucking banging in one of the very nearby, probably right next door flats. Someone was getting rid of a bookshelf or hacking away some plaster or some pipes or some damn thing. For two hours I lay awake, hoping it would stop. I gave up and got up. At which point, of fucking course, Sod’s Law cut in and it stopped and never resumed. But I did not know about that, did I? By the time I realised that the banging was over, I was wide awake again. This is the absolute only time that there has been such banging in the morning in the last three months. None before. None since. Bastards. Total, total, bastards. And yes, since you ask, I was very tempted to use full stops there.
Further albeit metaphorical hammering followed when England then got hammered at rugger by South Africa, despite having promised so much against Australia. In retrospect, what the rugby pros always say about how if you play behind a winning scrum attacking with your backs becomes massively easier ... well, that’s true. Australia have a weak pack. Genius backs but a weak pack. South Africa have a very strong pack, and very decent backs. I videoed the highlights of this game but have yet to watch them. So, England hammered at rugby and in the process of being hammered at cricket. The only two sports I really care about.
But, while I was sleeping or perhaps while I was later lying awake in bed cursing the universe, Instapundit had linked to They are not liberals and they are not progressives, adding extra punch to the title by calling it They Are Not Liberals And They Are Not Progressives, quoting the key paragraph, and adding, getting the point totally: “So what do we call them?” I could tell that something like this had probably happened even before I looked at Instapundit, because in my email inbox was a flood of emails resulting from a flood of comments on the posting, including many from people with totally unfamiliar names, and almost all of them intelligent and getting the point of it all. I had hoped that Instapundit would oblige, what with my point being about what American politico-obsessives of my persuasion call their local enemies (which is his kind of topic), if only with a one line posting, but of course you can never assume you’ll be Instalaunched. A posting with the money quote quoted was ideal. So, England are crap at rugger and cricket. These are mere games. This is the future of mankind, and my contribution to that future. My opinions are now echoing around the USA, and I haven’t even been there!
Some time Real Soon Now, I want to do another Samizdata posting about Instapundit and the difference he has made to life, the universe and everything, both a personal thank you and a thank you on behalf of the universe. People often do thank him, as here, for noticing this posting or (as here) a previous posting. People often digress about what a fine fellow he is, before getting stuck into some particular thing he likes to say, and how very true that is of how things are here in London or Toronto or Phoenix or Timbuktu or wherever. Not so often does anyone focus directly on the man himself and the man’s considerable achievement, with that being the point of the piece. But, has anyone - anyone - had more impact on the current political landscape of the USA, and hence the entire world, than Glenn Instapundit Reynolds? Name someone else. Seriously, think about that. And if you have any thoughts about this (I think) fascinating individual, please write them down as comments here. This even (in fact especially) applies if you do not share my very high opinion of Instapundit. Boring plonker, is he? Tell me why. You won’t convince me, but your inability to understand this person will flesh out my understanding of him, just a little. Because he is a bit boring, but only in the same kind of way that a quite complex machine, that is fantastically productive and which never, ever breaks down, is also boring.
A good global financial system would be boring too. But also, like Instapundit, it would be a very good thing.
Okay so on Saturday night and then Sunday morning, and having had pretty much no sleep the “night” before, I had a chance to clobber that jet lag by going to bed at a proper time. And I did, but then I wake up far too early, to have a piss basically, and I clock into Cricinfo just to get the bad news that will confirm how totally cricket is only a game, and England are ... 238 for 1 at tea on the fourth day. 238 for 1. Nearly level. This is too good to ignore. Cricket, after all, is an important matter. More than just a mere sport. It’s central to the way of life of two great nations at opposite ends of the earth, Britain and Australia, especially Australia. By the time England (as Britain’s cricket team is known (it has twice been captained by Scotsmen (most notably Douglas Jardine))) had reached 309 for 1 - 309 for 1 - at the close of play, I was wide awake again, and jet lag remained horribly undefeated.
And the next night was just as bad. When once again I should have been attempting an early night and many hours of slumber, England proceeded until near to tea time, reaching an unprecedented score of 517 for 1 wicket, which rather put Australia’s second innings of 481 (for 10 wickets) in its place, didn’t it? Would there then be a clatter of Australian wickets, perhaps even a sensational England win? Well, as it turned out, not. But how was I supposed to know that beforehand?
It is now Monday evening, and tomorrow I face the self-imposed obligation to be at the British Library at 1pm, to attend a lecture by Alex Ross, which will no doubt plunge my throat into a state of even worse ... worseness. Also, no chance of spending tomorrow in bed either. Also, I will have to venture out for food.
At least tonight there will be no cricket in Australia to postpone sleep. On Thursday night, it starts again, but tonight, and tomorrow night and the night after, there will only be darkness.
Last night I did something really strange (for me), and really productive. I went to bed really early. What I did was: combine my early evening nap with ... going to bed. The thing was, I had been getting up later and later, and having my early evening nap later and later, and then going to bed later and later, and my “early evening nap” had itself started to approach a normal bed time. So, I just ... went to bed. A bit early by anyone else’s standards, but about a third of a day early by my recent standards, and I skipped the waking up after the nap bit. I just stayed in bed. And this morning I was up like a normal person, early in the morning. By 10 am, I had already done this, and this, and now I’ve done this. Which means that today, the day is already clear to get stuck into some serious stuff.
First, I have to be up very early tomorrow morning to attend a family meeting in Guildford. Very early. The journey is hideous, so rising tomorrow morning must be hideously early. The only way that could work was for me was to get up rather hideously early today and be so tired by early this evening that I actually get some sleep, instead of lying awake worrying about not getting enough sleep and about not waking up in time. And then, worse, far worse, actually not waking up in time. Luckily, going to bed rather late and getting up quite early doesn’t make me tired right now and want to go back to bed, the way going to bed very late and getting up hideously early does. It will, I hope, make me tired quite early this evening, but won’t stop me being lucid in the meantime. So, I have more blogging time at my disposal today.
Second, there seem to be a lot of incoming emails that require to be blogged about. Plus quite a few things I have wanted to blog about but have been neglecting. Plus also there is this, which I can’t allow to pass unnoticed
So, I’ve decided to put aside everything else and make a real blogging day of it, although as always when I say things like that, I promise nothing.
It helps that the weather is dreary and not good for photography, so although I do have to go out at some point during the day (partly to sort out that hideous journey), that expedition will probably not find itself being photographically prolonged. But it is quite warm, which means I can finally open all my windows, a let some of the dust out of this dump and let in some fresh air.
I will probably start by doing an easy blog posting rather than a significant one. (As in significant to me. None of them will be of any great significance to anyone else.) This is always the trick when confronting a pile of stuff to do. Don’t start with the most important bit. Start with an easily doable bit, to get a bit of momentum going. (Then, having done that, flop back in amazed delight, celebrate, and forget everything else, including everything important. I hope that doesn’t happen to me today.)
Later: Oh dear. Meetings have a way of generating lots of discussion beforehand, and that may be happening to this one. So, we shall see if any of the above actually materialises.
I finally worked out where that green cat email went. It turned out it wasn’t a proper email at all. It was a comment on the original green cat posting, to the effect that the green picture is, quote: copyright Sarah Hartwell/Messybeast.com. I get emails every time anyone (except me for some reason I don’t understand) comments on this blog. But not to my regular pile of emails, to a special pile, and all such emails look identical until I open them, to find them spam mostly, at the moment. So, in my mind, the green cat email was a regular email, and it vanished. This is what illness does. You make stupid mistakes if you persist in trying to accomplish stuff while suffering from it, which not long after that confusion I stopped trying to do. Once I had a proper name for my befuddlements, discomforts and disfigurements, I was able to take to my bed, confident this was the proper thing to be doing.
The trouble is, I now have jet lag, despite hardly having ventured for longer than about an hour from my home for the last month, simply because of getting into the habit of sleeping by day and then getting up at night even more than usual. So now, at 6pm I cannot stay awake. At 3am, I am totally alert, or as alert as I ever am these days.
. . . because the clock on my blog software is the same as the clock clock. During the months over Christmas, if the clock clock says 11:53PM today, as it does right now, my blog sofware clock would say 0:53AM tomorrow, which is very confusing, and makes me think my deadline was due an hour earlier than it was. I could probably find out how to keep these two clocks in permanent alignment, but can’t be bothered.
British Summer Time is also better because there is an hour more each day to take photos. Low light is doom for us Billion Monkeys.
This morning, having only got to sleep at 4 am, I got up at 9.30am. In other words I exploited the Old Git tendency to wake up half way through the night, by simply forgetting about the other half. I need to reset the Micklethwait Clock, if only because I am staying with Professor Dowd in Sheffield this weekend, and will simply have to be getting up at a sensible hour. Also, I have to get up early tomorrow to pack before catching the bus there.
Which meant that I got my blogging duties here out of the way good and soon, and that I found the time also to write this.
Because of that latter piece, I am now feeling very smug. This is one of those cases where my mere eloquence is actually going to make the world a better place, to a small but definite degree. Having only written it this morning I cannot be entirely sure yet, but I strongly suspect that if and when (I promise nothing) I get around to compiling Brian’s Greatest Blog Postings, this will feature.
Bloggers like me, in other words. I don’t know how “successful” this blog of mine has been, but I am convinced that one of its attractions is that I keep putting stuff up. It helps that my “put stuff up every day” rule often results in stuff that is a good deal better than that rule suggests, although not always of course. What I mean is that I start to put up something mundane, but then a thought that is perhaps a little better than mundane occurs to me, and it immediately gets said. Whereas if I were not writing at the time the thought struck, it would be lost and gone. It occurs to me that “It occurs to me that ...” is a phrase I often use.
For many, this something-every-day rule would not suit at all. Writers who write well and entertainingly only when they have something big and important to say, but cannot simply hustle up something diverting by the mere act of starting to write, should follow their own rule and their own rhythm. But for me, the something-every-day rules seems to work well. I hope you agree. Presumably you do, or you’d have been long gone.
This rule of mine, imposed by me on me, often results in bizarre self-imposed deadline angst. It may seem idiotic – it is idiotic – but many have been the evenings when I have delayed sticking stuff up hear until the very end of the evening. I blog daily therefore I am. Obeying this rule isn’t the whole story of my life. I do have some other reasons to claim that I, as it were, am. But it has become a big part of it. Let an entire day go by, and soon I would be letting clutches of days, weeks even, go by. And then it would become: I am a daily blogger who doesn’t actually blog daily, so; I am ... not. Horror.
Once, I took a two month break, as you can see if you trawl through the months in my monthly archive, to your left. Not that you would, but if you did. But that was different. I was on a break. I’ll be back, I said, and I was.
Actually, my something-every-day rule has been relaxed by me somewhat, to something-before-I-go-to-bed-even-if-it’s-more-like-2 am-the-next-morning. Then I fiddle the time to make the date go back to the previous day. Perhaps you’ve noticed, if you live in my time zone. It’s my blog and I’ll cheat if I want to. We all have our various compromises that are acceptable, and others that are not. Once – just once – I seem to remember backdating a posting by about eight hours, having already slept for several hours and with clear next-day daylight outside. Mea culpa. And on another occasion I cheated by a similar number of hours because although I had written it, I had forgotten to actually publish it. But mostly, and as I say apart from quite frequent cheating during the very small hours of the next morning, I stay on track.
So anyway, if the above subterfuges are in any way familiar to you, my advice is: if you are a self-imposed daily blogger like me, try to post something (anything) quite early in the day. Do that, and you can then wallow in the luxury of nearly two whole days before the daily rigmarole begins again.
I suppose, if I wanted a shot break without visibly taking one, I could also do what I used to do over Christmas (before the days of Jesus the Micro Laptop and Jesus’s Internet Dongle), and write about four postings at once and pre-date them, to manifest themselves daily. But I’ve never really felt right with that. What if an atom bomb goes off, and there I am still blogging about, basically, kittens? (I know, the internet would not be at its best either, but you get my point.)
This nonsense was written, and with any luck will be posted, before noon today. Deep joy.
Obviously Sport is going to be one of the categories at the bottom of this post, but I’m afraid that another will be The Micklethwait Clock, a virtual entity that I seem to spend my life trying to getting into sync with daylight, only for some idiotic all-nighter brought on by something or other to blow it to hell for another fortnight. Well, at least I’m getting today’s posting here done good and early, which will give me the chance to finish that long ramble I’m trying to do for Samizdata, about the fact that my mother ... isn’t going to live for ever.
Just now, the particular cricinfo concerns an absorbing series between Australia and South Africa. It’s 1 am my time, but only approaching lunch their time. How close will South Africa get to the Australia first inning of 394? They have now reached 268-8, which doesn’t sound good but which is an improvement on 198-7, which is how they started the day, at 11.30pm my time.
The good news, Micklethwait Clockwise, is that the entire point of me being here is to see to Mum each day, which I have to be ready for her to begin at 8.30am, with water, milk, toast, satsumas, whatever. If and when she has a bath, I have to be around in case any of that requires assistance. All of which will keep the Micklethwait Clock in order, no matter how interesting the cricket may get.
South Africa now 304-8 at lunch. Definitely South Africa’s morning. And definitely my bedtime.
My watch has to tell me the date as well as the time
Fourth innings heroics
Thank you very much Ambrose and Collingwood
Rain stops Murali
Alice in Texas on form - England in Australia not
Not much here today
More comedy and a Piccadilly Circus Billion Monkey!
The Micklethwait Clock suffers
The thief of time
Another view of the BT Tower
Thoughts on habits and on killer apps
The Micklethwait Clock is now back to being right
Rylance’s Richard again
Clocking on earlier
This and that at 9.07am