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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

Thursday November 09 2017

I have started reading Music & Monarchy, by David Starkey and Katie Greening.  What the division of labour is between these two (Starkey is in larger letters thatn Greening on the front cover) I do not know, but it certainly starts very promisingly.  I have already encountered two passages worthy of prolonged recycling here, the one that starts the book (see below), and the bit that follows, about England’s profound medieval musicality.

So, to begin where Starkey and Greening begin, here is how the introduction of this book launches itself (pages 1-2):

Music or Words? Poetry and Drama? Or Anthems, Opera and Oratorio? Which, to personalise and particularise, is the more important in British history and to the British monarchy: the anniversary of Shakespeare or the centenary of Handel? The question almost seems absurd. Nowadays there is no doubt that Shakespeare wins every time. Shakespeare’s cycle of history plays, famously described by another maker of history, John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, as ‘the only history I ever read’, still shapes the popular understanding of English history and its murderous dynastic rivalries; while in their nobler moments the plays (re-)invent the idea of England herself before going on to adumbrate a larger, mistier vision of Britain:

This royal throne of kings, this scepter’d isle,
This earth of majesty, this sea of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-Paradise ...
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea ...
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England,
This nurse, this teeming womb of royal kings ...
This land of such dear souls, this dear, dear land.

Who could resist that? George III (1760-1820) for one, who confided to Fanny Burney: ‘Was there ever such stuff as a great part of Shakespeare? Only one must not say so!’ The eighteenth century more or less agreed with its longest reigning king. The bicentenary of Shakespeare, celebrated five years late in 1769, was a provincial pageant, which, despite the best efforts of the actor-manager David Garrick, made little impact outside the Bard’s birthplace of Stratford-upon-Avon and, thanks to torrential rain, was literally a washout even there. On the other hand, the centenary of Handel’s birth (celebrated a year early by mistake in 1784) was a grand national event the like of which had never been seen before: not for the greatest general, politician or king, let alone for a mere musician.  Fashionable London fought (and queued) for tickets; Westminster Abbey was crammed and ladies were instructed not to wear excessive hoops in their dresses while hats were absolutely forbidden. Even then, demand was unsatisfied and two of the events had to be rerun.

Monday November 06 2017

This blog regularly suffers from this condition:

The maxim “Nothing avails but perfection” may be spelt shorter: “ Paralysis”.

Today, for instance, I journeyed forth, north, and got some great photos.  But I want to get my report of today’s photo-triumphs exactly right, which means that, quite possibly, I won’t ever report them at all.  How paralytic is that?  Very.

However, this evening, I met some people who every now and again take a look at this blog.  Not a read of it, you understand.  They look.  At the photos.  So here is a photo for such “readers”, taken just over a decade ago, of a lady with a nice headscarf taking a photo with her then state-of-the-art but now hopelessly out-of-date mobile phone:

image

It was not long before then that I started seriously trying to take photos of photoers that excluded their faces.

Sunday November 05 2017

Instapundit’s Ed Driscoll quotes two early paragraphs of a review by Theodore Dalrymple of a book about Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, aka Le Corbusier.  I like these paragraphs, from near the end:

Jeanneret’s pronouncements, and the belief in them, led to the construction of a thousand urban hells, worse in some ways than traditional slums because they were planned and because they were specifically designed to eliminate spontaneous and undirected human contact or social life. Jeanneret hated what he called derisively the street, because the street was messy, it was unofficial and unofficiated. He hated it as an obsessively house-proud woman hates dust.

But the puzzle remains: How was such a man able to obtain and retain such a hold over other men’s minds, or at least over important men’s minds? I have no complete answer, though I suspect that the First World War had much to do with it. Without that cataclysm, Jeanneret would have been a crank, or a mere antisocial misfit; but so great was the emotional and intellectual dislocation understandably brought about by the war that almost anything seemed worthy of notice or consideration afterwards, anything that was different from what went before. And so Jeanneret had his chance.

As regulars here will know, I absolutely do not share Dalrymple’s hatred of all architectural modernism.  And I even like some of Le Corubusier’s buildings, the more quirky and individual ones, although I am sure not having to live or work in them helps a lot.  But what happened to the world at the hands of the architects, and in particular the city planners, sho were influenced by Le Corbusier was appalling.

The book that Dalrymple was reviewing is cripplingly expensive, but I might just buy it anyway, on a kind of “vote with my wallet” basis.

Wednesday October 04 2017

Words make for entertaining photos.  The words in signs.  The “words” in graffiti.

I was out and about today, and here are a couple of the more amusing photos I took.

There was this, involving two glamorous women:

image

And this, involving another quite glamorous woman:

image

The first photo was taken through a shop window in Lower Marsh.  That quote about Hell seems to be generic, so presumably that’s a generic woman.  I had supposed it to be somebody in particular, in the way that Marilyn Monroe is somebody in particular.  But, it seems not.

The second photo was taken at the southern entrance of the Peake Street graffiti tunnel.  An entrance that now looks like this:

image

The graffiti in the tunnel, which goes under Waterloo Station, is constantly changing.  Here is how some of it was looking today:

imageimageimage
imageimageimage

Apart from recognising a couple of Hulks there, the incredible one and Homwer Simpson, this is all a mystery to me.  As I think I’ve said here before, graffiti like this has in common with Modern Art of the more usual sort in being incomprehensible to outsiders.

At the other end of the Peake Street graffiti tunnel, there is a big notice which tells everyone what the graffiti rules are.

I know what you’re thinking.  Good luck with that.  And if you are thinking that, you are not wrong:

image

Life is Beautiful!!  Hm.  Not so sure.  But then, I am in two minds about graffiti.  It’s threatening, but stylish.  One moment I like how it looks.  At other moments, it feels like visual bullying.

If anyone knows what this notice now says (I’m talking about the big purple “word” there), please leave a comment.

I prefer standard English.

Wednesday September 06 2017

Professor Amy Wax, quoted in this:

Get married before you have children and strive to stay married for their sake. Get the education you need for gainful employment, work hard, and avoid idleness. Go the extra mile for your employer or client. Be a patriot, ready to serve the country. Be neighborly, civic-minded, and charitable. Avoid coarse language in public. Be respectful of authority. Eschew substance abuse and crime.

These are the kind of virtues that, in Charles Murray’s words, the upper classes of the USA have been practising, but have been neglecting to preach to those below them in the social pecking order.  Result says Professor Wax: disaster.

That phrase about preaching what they practise is a good one and I am glad it is getting around.  (I mentioned it in this Samizdata piece.) I don’t always practise these virtues myself, particularly the ones concerning working hard and avoiding idleness.  (I would also want to distinguish between serving my country and serving its mere state apparatus.) But I preach these virtues nevertheless.  Do what she says, not what I do.

A little hypocrisy is far preferable to a lot of silence in these matters.

Sunday July 30 2017

I really like this description of where cool came from.  I don’t think I agree, but I like the way the guy puts it:

And what Frank Sinatra projected was: cool. And here is where the damage was done. Frank invented cool, and everyone followed Frank, and everything has been going to hell ever since.

In America, B.F., there was no cool. There was smart (as in the smart set), and urbane, and sophisticated, and fast and hip; but these things were not the same as cool. The pre-Frank hip guy, the model of aesthetic and moral superiority to which men aspired, is the American male of the 1930s and 1940s. He is Humphrey Bogart in The Big Sleep or Casablanca or Archie Goodwin in Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe novels. He possesses an outward cynicism, but this is understood to be merely clothing; at his core, he is a square. He fights a lot, generally on the side of the underdog. He is willing to die for his beliefs, and his beliefs are, although he takes pains to hide it, old-fashioned. He believes in truth, justice, the American way, and love. He is on the side of the law, except when the law is crooked. He is not taken in by jingoism but he is himself a patriot; when there is a war, he goes to it. He is, after his fashion, a gentleman and, in a quite modern manner, a sexual egalitarian. He is forthright, contemptuous of dishonesty in all its forms, from posing to lying. He confronts his enemies openly and fairly, even if he might lose. He is honorable and virtuous, although he is properly suspicious of men who talk about honor and virtue. He may be world-weary, but he is not ironic.

The new cool man that Sinatra defined was a very different creature. Cool said the old values were for suckers. Cool was looking out for number one always. Cool didn’t get mad; it got even. Cool didn’t go to war: Saps went to war, and anyway, cool had no beliefs it was willing to die for. Cool never, ever, got in a fight it might lose; cool had friends who could take care of that sort of thing. Cool was a cad and boastful about it; in cool’s philosophy, the lady was always a tramp, and to be treated accordingly. Cool was not on the side of the law; cool made its own laws. Cool was not knowing but still essentially idealistic; cool was nihilistic. Cool was not virtuous; it reveled in vice. Before cool, being good was still hip; after cool, only being bad was.

I found that at Instapundit.  It is from this.

I remember writing a pamphlet, way back when, entitled Why I Support The Contras, that included the observation that …:

… there seems to me to be something especially nasty about free, comfortable people choosing to decide questions of overwhelming historical and moral significance as if they were arguing about hemlines.

That’s in my penultimate paragraph, underneath my final subheading, “MORALITY AND STYLE”.  My point being that morality trumps style.

To put that in the language of cool and uncool, what I was getting at was that being an uncool anti-communist was good.  But being a cool pro-communist, or (almost as bad in my opinion) a cool anti-anti-communist, was evil.  And good and evil matter a hell of a lot more than cool and uncool.

I think that “cool” can be a virtue, related to the idea of “grace under fire”.  Cool, can, that is to say, overlap with virtue.  You can be cool while being – cool about being - good, or at least non-evil.

Cool and evil can go to hell, that being where it belongs.  But when Instapundit’s Ed Driscoll says, of that Michael Kelly quote, “spot on”, I disagree.  I don’t regard cool as being, in and of itself, evil.  It often is.  But it often isn’t.

But, what do I know?  The thing is, this is an argument about the meaning of a word, and the meaning of a word is often controversial.  To know what a word means, you have to know about how it is used.  Knowing how you think it should be used is not the same thing.  All I can say is that in my conversational circles, cool is not necessarily wicked.

I am quite prepared to believe that in Sinatra world, cool did indeed become very wicked indeed.

Sunday June 25 2017

I’ve been reading Adam Zamoyski’s book about Chopin.  So far, I love it.  And I love learning so much about a fascinating man, of whom I knew just about nothing besides his music, and the fact that he was Polish and is a very big deal in Poland, but that he lived mostly in France.

I have, in particular, learned just exactly how Polish Chopin was, and was not.  His father, Nicholas Chopin, was French.  But when the Polish aristocrat for whom he worked went back to Poland, Nicholas went with him.  In Poland Nicholas married a Polish woman, and Frederick was thus born in Poland, but with his French-sounding name.  It sounds French because it was French.

So far, I have reached the stage where Chopin has played his first few concerts at which he performed, to great acclaim, his first few compositions, most of them for piano and orchestra.  (I am very fond of these pieces, the two piano concertos and the various other one movement works for piano and orchestra.)

As for how Chopin played, Zamoyski supplies this especially pleasing quote, from an unnamed Warsaw newspaper critic:

He emphasised but little, like one conversing in the company of clever people, not with the rhetorical aplomb which is considered by virtuosos to be indispensable.

But Chopin found it difficult working with orchestras, and I’m guessing that this is partly why that stopped, and he concentrated henceforth on solo works.  But as I think the above quote reveals, that probably suited his manner of playing better.

Tuesday June 13 2017

Indeed:

image

According to Laura Gibbs, this translates from Latin into this:

I am hopeful in times of danger; I am fearful when things are going well.

I love the internet.  Before the internet I would have seen this, been momentarily baffled, and would have forgotten it at once.  Now I photo it and later I learn what it means.  I then blog it and only then do I forget about it.

The building that proclaims this wisdom is now the Milestone Hotel.

BMdotcom quote of the day (in three dimensional latin)
The same piece quotulated twice
Me on war and sport - quotulated two years later
On the popularity of high-rise living: People in high-rises like to look at other high-rises
Playing golf versus following cricket
Objectivity is indistinguishable from hate
The god that failed
Marc Sidwell on experts
Trump there
Modernism now works
On comments – and some commentary on some Brexit comments
Second childhood
New Tricks is popular because it is full of old people and it is mostly old people who watch telly
Wicked Campers: Are they now going respectable?
ShiRtstream drycleaners and a party recollection
Milo Yiannopoulos
Mental notes
A new Big Thing for Paddington?
Some quota reflected cranes and a quota white van
Close departs
Fun stuff in Oxford Street
Interesting vehicles
One day cricketers playing at test cricket
Tomorrow I will get out less
A rather argumentative van
BMdotcom quotes of the day from Edward Snowden (and a picture of him)
Reading Anton Howes again
BMdotcom abusive comment of the day
True hearts and warm hands
Photo-drones fighting in the Ukraine and a photo-drone above the new Apple headquarters building
Scandinavia comes out on top according to the HDI …
BMdotcom (mathematical (and sporting)) quote of the day
Sixty Charlie Hebdo demo signs that say something other than “Je Suis Charlie”
Cats – and technology
Loadshedding?
MicheldeMontaigne.fr
Only with a computer
BMdotcom quote of the day from 6k about crazy kids
Postrel goes for Gray
BrianMicklethwaitDotCom musical quote of the day
PID at the Times
Back from France (plus cat photos)
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