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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: Quote unquote

Tuesday October 21 2014

There I was, lying in the bath, listening to Radio 3.  Some music had ended, and I was now being subjected to a programme which I do not usually listen to, called Words and Music.  And I heard the actor Jim Broadbent saying these words, by Michel de Montaigne:

I take the first subject that chance offers.  They are all equally good to me.  And I never plan to develop them completely.  For I do not see the whole of anything.  (Nor do those who promise to show it to us.) Of a hundred members and faces that each thing has, I take one, sometimes only to lick it, sometimes to brush the surface, sometimes to pinch it to the bone.  I give it a stab, not as wide, but as deep as I know how.  And most often, I like to take them from some unaccustomed point of view. Scattering a word here, there another, samples separated from their context, dispersed, without a plan and without a promise, I am not bound to make something of them, or to adhere to them myself, without varying when I please, and giving myself up to doubt and uncertainty, and my ruling quality, which is ignorance.

Sounds like a blogger, doesn’t he?  A blogger, that is to say, like me. Especially where he says “without a promise”.  I keep saying that. Above all there is that “this is what it is and if you don’t like it you know just what you can do about it” vibe that so many bloggers give off.  With Montaigne, we are arriving at that first moment in history when writing and publishing new stuff had become easy.  Not as easy as it is when you blog, but a whole lot easier than it had been.

I transcribed the above quote from Broadbent’s reading of it.  The punctuation is somewhat uncertain, and at one point assertively creative on my part.  I added some brackets, around what is clearly a diversion from his main line of thought to which he immediately returns.  It’s a sideswipe at others and it is then forgotten.

Such is the wonder that is the internet that I had little difficulty in tracking down the quote.  It is near the beginning of Montaigne’s essay entitled “Of Democritus and Heraclitus”, in volume three of his essays.

image

The BBC used a more recent translation, which I much prefer the sound of, it being less antique and long-winded.  And if Montaigne himself was also antique and long-winded, then I still prefer intelligibility to stylistic accuracy.

Monday October 20 2014

I sympathise with whoever wrote this:

West Brom can hardly believe their luck. Being denied a win at the death by Manchester United is one thing, but having teased a previously woeful Marouane Fellaini back to life must really does takes the biscuit.

“Must really does takes the biscuit.” I reckon he was choosing between, not two, but three different ways of saying what he was saying, but managed to combine all three.

This is the kind of mistake that can only happen with a computer.  If you were merely writing, or typing with an old school typewriter, there is no way you would have put that.

When I perpetrate something like that, and I frequently do, and if I later spot the mistake, I then allow myself to correct it, no matter how long ago I made the mistake.  Is this wrong?  My blog, my rules.

A subsection of Sod’s Law states that whenever you mention someone else’s mistake in something you say on the www, you will make a similar sort of error yourself.  If I do this in this posting, I will not correct my error, but will add something “LATER”, in which I identify my error.

Computers.  New ways to screw things up.

I attended a talk this evening at Christian Michel’s about robots.  The point was made the robot cars probably will be safer, but every once in a Blue Moon, there will be a truly spectacular disaster, of a sort impossible to perpetrate with old school cars.

Wednesday October 01 2014

6k (whom I also quoted last night on the subject of Boris Johnson) on the weirdness of being a parent, and the bizarrely insignificant things that drive children crazy:

My best (worst?) experience of this was probably the occasion when my 3 year old son was crying because he didn’t know why he was crying.

My attitude to parents is that they outrank me, and they do this almost no matter how badly they are doing their parenting.  They are at least doing it.  If I see a mad welfare mother screaming at her mad kids in a supermarket (her kids are mad because she has driven them mad), I still say to myself: respect.  She is there, in the female trenches, fighting the good fight.  I have chosen not to stand by and pay the bills for such a person.  Thanks to her and her husband (in her case that’s probably the government), homo sapiens (in her case homo a bit madens) will be around in a hundred years from now.  If that task had been left to me, it would not have been accomplished.

I’m not saying 6k is a bad parent, you understand.  Merely that even if he was a bad parent, he would still be a better parent than me.  And I also agree that some children are driven so crazy by their parents that they must be rescued, or at least they should have been.  (Few civilised principles are absolute.) I mean things like if they murder them, or imprison them and torture them for years on end.  Yes, I’m probably doing better than that.  But such exceptional extremities aside, like I say: respect.

Tuesday August 26 2014

I’ve started reading Virginia Postrel’s The Future and Its Enemies, years after everyone else who has read it.  I haven’t got very far yet, but I am delighted to discover that one of the Enemies that Postrel takes several cracks at is John Gray, that being a link to a crack that I took at Gray at Samizdata a while back.

And I see that Postrel, like me, does not confine herself to analysing and criticising Gray’s arguments, but notes also the cheapness of the tricks that Gray often uses to present his arguments.

What disguises the trickery, at least in the eyes of Gray and his followers, is the air of profundity that is regarded as being attached to the process of foreseeing doom and disaster.  In truth, incoherent pessimism is no more profound than incoherent optimism, which is to say, not profound at all.

Says Postrel (p. 9):

Although they represent a minority position, reactionary ideas have tremendous cultural vitality.  Reactionaries speak directly to the most salient aspects of contemporary life: technological change, commercial fluidity, biological transformation, changing social roles, cultural mixing, international trade, and instant communication.  They see these changes as critically important, and, as the old Natinoal Review motto had it, they are determined to “stand athwart history, yelling, ‘Stop!’” Merely by acknowledging the dynamism of contemporary life, reactionaries win points for insight.  And in the eyes of more conventional thinkers, denouncing change makes them seem wise.

Seem.  Amen.  I’m still proud of this in my piece about Gray, which makes that same point about the seeming wisdom of being a grump rather than a booster:

He trades relentlessly on that shallowest of aesthetic clichés, that misery is more artistic than happiness, that any old rubbish with a sad ending is artistically superior to anything with a happy ending no matter how brilliantly done, that music in a minor key is automatically more significant than anything in C major.

There are plenty more Gray references in Postrel’s book, if the Index is anything to go by and it surely is.  My immediate future is bright.

Saturday August 23 2014

Perry de Havilland:

Is not socialism truly stranger than a chorus of singing penguins?

LOL.  I really did.

Just to add, as a memo to self, I have another musical-stroke-Venezuela blog posting to do at Samizdata, concerning something said by a BBC4 TV presenter at a Prom, following a performance of Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony by Gustavo Dudamel and his Venezuelan orchestra, about what a wonderful vision it was of the world for one bloke to be telling everyone else what to do.  I have the exact words (in addition to Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony) recorded, and I must dig them out.  They were truly spectacular, as in: spectacularly stupid.

The BBC worships all things Venezuelan, but has gone rather quieter about that now.

Monday August 18 2014

Richard Morrison’s article about the impact of WW1 on music, for the Times, is very interesting, but it suffers from an outbreak of PID (Permanent Italics Disease).  This is when you switch on the italics, but then forget or fail to switch them off again.  Here is a screen capture of the offending moment and its surroundings:

image

This was posted on August 16th, in connection with a Prom that happened last night, but it has yet to be corrected, as I write this.

PID is particularly pernicious when it afflicts not only the rest of the text of the piece itself, but then continues throughout the entire page as you see it, as it does here.  That is a site software blunder, as well as a posting blunder.

I got to this piece via Arts and Letters Daily, which perhaps explains how I got to it at all, what with the Times paywall and all.  Does anyone know how that system is working out for the Times?

It seems a bit shoddy that you have to pay for such typographical ineptitude.  It’s not so much the original error that I am unimpressed by.  It’s the fact that nobody quickly corrected it.  And the fact that the site software doesn’t confine the problem to the one posting.

To be a bit more serious, about the content of the article, I have long regretted Schoenberg’s depressing impact upon music, but I had no idea that the man himself was such a German chauvinist.  “Now we will throw these mediocre kitschmongers into slavery, and teach them to venerate the German spirit and to worship the German God …” Good grief.

Friday August 15 2014

Yes, I’ve been in France, and now I’m back.  Have been for several days actually, but I spent my recent blogging time doing this, which is a photo-decorated ramble on various things I saw in France, or thought I did, for Samizdata.

I really want to get back into the swim of things over there, after a recent dry spell, and was accordingly determined to finish that ramble before I resumed rambling here.

Since this is Friday, here are some French cats.

Cat number one stands outside Vannes town hall:

image

Cat number two is impressively perched on an impressively high ledge, somewhere or other.  Cat number three, the cat of the friends I was staying with, is shown here, not being very impressed with cat number two:

image

This photo was taken by Tony, to whom thanks, and to whom thanks also for emailing it to me.

Here, on the other hand are two further photos that I did take of cat number three:

image image

No, I don’t know why his right ear is green on the inside.  I only noticed this when I got home.

His name is Caesar (sp?), and he actually does answer to that name.  It’s not tone of voice, it’s the name, because when I said this to him for the first time, he immediately looked up to see what I had in mind.

There is another cat, Basil, who drops by at the home of Tony et famille from time to time, but he is more shy.  He was otherwise engaged, on my last day there which was when I finally decided I wanted to photo the two cats.  Caesar showed up, but not Basil.  Another time, maybe.

Caesar is now very old, and I may never meet with him again.  We got on well.

Saturday August 02 2014

Overheard in a TV advert for sweeties:

You can’t trust atoms.  They make up everything.

Talking of which, I am now reading Lee Smolin’s book about String Theory.  Basic message: It’s a cult.  I haven’t yet read him using that actual word, but that’s what he is saying.

I am, of course, not qualified to judge if Smolin is right, but you don’t have to be qualified to express a judgement, and I judge that Smolin is right.  And the way I like to learn about new stuff is by reading arguments about it, starting with the argument that says I am right about it.  Smolin is basically telling me that my ignorant prejudice that String Theory is one of the current world’s epicentres of the Higher Bollocks is right, although he is careful not to express himself as crudely as I just did, for fear of upsetting his physicist friends, and because, unlike me, he sees some merit in String Theory.

I have known that String Theory was in trouble for some time, because Big Bang Theory’s resident String Theorist, Dr Sheldon Cooper, has been having doubts about it.  He wanted to switch to something else, but they said: We hired you as a String Theorist and a String Theorist you will remain.

The above link is to a blog I had not heard of before, entitled Not Even Wrong.  Not Even Wrong is the title of another book I have recently obtained with has a go at String Theory.  I have not yet started reading this.

It’s true.  You can’t trust atoms.  And grabbing both ends of one and stretching it out into a string doesn’t change that.  It makes it worse.

Confirming my String prejudices
Why you are wrong
Brian Micklethwait dot com quote of the day
Ubernomics
BrianMicklethwaitDotCom quota quote of the day
South Bank signs
Frank Turner on playing in an arena
Classic Feline Friday quote from Tim Berners-Lee
JK Rowling describes two rich girls
Quota quote
Christopher Seaman on conducting
When Open Symbol attacks!
Megan McArdle on success and failure
Good question
David Byrne on the constraints of artistic form
Tube interrupted
Music classified
Sidwell (and me) on selfies
RNSQotD
Jamie Whyte on deferring gratification less as he gets older
Algernon Sidney sends for Micklethwait because Micklethwait is wise, learned, diligent, and faithful
Quotes from there
A free man
I’ve just been quotulated
Rob Fisher on the 3D printing future
You can achieve everything you want if you’re unambitious enough
Perry Metzger on taking seriously the declared objectives of opponents
The Alex Singleton blog
A scaffolder likes Jeremy Clarkson
BMdotCOM insult of the day
Feynman Diagrams on the Feynman van
So painters also used to “take” pictures
Quotes of the day
Better a year late than never
My dusty computer screen
David Friedman on the similarity between fractional reserve banking and insurance
Words for bloggers to live by
Rally Against Debt signs
BrianMicklethwaitDotCom narcissistic self-quote of the day
The politics of humour in the USA and in Britain
BM.com quote of the day
Climate science as make-work for former Cold Warriors
BrianMicklethwaitDotCom quote of the year so far
I can now copy and paste from .pdf files
BM.com quote of the day
BrianMicklethwaitDotCom mixed metaphor of the day
An amazon reviewer defends Alex Ross
Thoughts on England not just keeping the Ashes but winning the series 3-1 (with asterisks)
Richard Dawkins on university debating games
Alex Ross on Hollywood film scores
More redirection
BrianMicklethwait Dot Com QotD
Brianmicklethwait Dot Com headline of the day
K Street - metonym - synecdoche
Perfectly clear politics
“An alternative definition of intelligence …”
Snappy quote from Victor Davis Hanson that may or may not actually be true
Big box computers versus laptops
Frank J random thought for the day
As strong and sweet as the free market itself
BrianMicklethwaitDotCom twitter of the day before the day before yesterday
This is not Mohammed
Incoming from Molly Norris!
Why David Hepworth is wrong about podcasting
BrianMicklethwaitDotCom modified cliche insult of the day
BrianMicklethwaitDotCom understatement of the day
Stepping forward into the abyss!
Unravelling the puzzle – and making it into a movie
India looking good against Sri Lanka
ClimateGate roars on and Man(n)-made warming is taking on a whole new meaning
Frank McLynn: “Counterfactual history is the essence of history …”
Going global
Graeme Swann - twitterer but no twit
Scrounging Englishmen and stories too good to check
Twitterings
Under a hundred copies
Correction
Barney Stinson on how gay marriage will encourage regular marriage
Quotes dump
Old Holborn lets rip at Labour in a Guido comment
Jonathan Meades on city planning
Anti-politics versus (or just and) the heroic delusion
At Samizdata: cricket - crime - Kevin Dowd quote
Daniel Hannan and the shape of the media to come
Don’t blame banking
Meme for the New Depression
Some family education blogging
Happy New year (if possible)
Do not read this if you prefer all epigrams about getting well to be tasteful
“… the idea is to remain ignorant of how dumb you look …”
And here is a real quotation
Quota quotes from Wodehouse
P. J. O’Rourke confuses the average with the significant
I have not been living beyond my means
Why Willem Buiter blogs and why I do
Wonderwoman picked by Unsuperman
I’m not nearly grand enough to ignore this
“I’ll build it with explosive bolts connecting the wings to the fuselage …”
Clarkson on Sarah Jessica Parker
“Let’s get cracking tomorrow.  Let’s have a drink tonight.”
You must enjoy reading!
A deeper voice
Brian Micklethwait dot com quote of the day - soup
On hating and not hating commenters
Moore versus Stossel on Cuban medical care
The Lord is watching
Inventions which start as toys
Fifty million Bible bombs
“Don’t burn your bridges before they’re hatched …”
From 100 to 1 in movie quotes and Gordon is a moron
Nothing untoward happening!
Bush on Cuba
Che Guevara was a murderer and your T-Shirt is not cool
Mark Holland on believing in something and believing in nothing
Struggling Actress quote of the day
Lots of links
A surprising outburst of truth
Pictures with words
“What you like learning about is probably what you like to do”
Girly songs
Cold War winner
Tom Wolfe on the only real fun of writing
Words of wisdom from Brian Micklerthwit
Darrin M. McMahon and me and George Orwell on the pursuit of happiness
Doubts
Gandhi on equality for all … except …
Why quotations suitable for this blog cannot be found in quotations books
Sullivan and Grove find some Schubert diamonds
Alice in Texas on form - England in Australia not
BrianMicklethwait.com quote of the day
Something to bore everyone
Debussy denounces Massenet but Puccini follows him
Run Germany with thirty megs
To be controlled in our economic pursuits means to be dot dot dot controlled in everything
“And also our sensitivity to our office being firebombed”
More IP violating: Barry Beelzebub on Freepost bricks and a still-legal wild boar hunt
The father of invention