Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
Brian Micklethwait on "Real Democracy Now" in Parliament Square this afternoon
Rocco on "Real Democracy Now" in Parliament Square this afternoon
Six Thousand on Some batsman – some neck
Darren on Some batsman – some neck
Michael Jennings on Thoughts on habits and on changing incentives with the passing of time
Rob Fisher on Thoughts on habits and on changing incentives with the passing of time
James on Charlie Hebdo demo in Trafalgar Square
Brian Micklethwait on Charlie Hebdo demo in Trafalgar Square
Tom on Charlie Hebdo demo in Trafalgar Square
Tom on Golden Gate being built – Severn Road Bridge ditto – C20 photography – Hitler's paintings
Most recent entries
- Scandinavia comes out on top according to the HDI …
- Drone on the White House lawn
- BMdotcom What if? of the day
- Move over CND
- Photographers - photographers with hats (one of the hats being rather scary)
- “Real Democracy Now” in Parliament Square this afternoon
- Big cats jacket
- Drugs drones
- Some batsman – some neck
- Thoughts on habits and on changing incentives with the passing of time
- BMdotcom (mathematical (and sporting)) quote of the day
- Two pictures of the Shard behind some railings
- Smartphones and tablets at the Charlie Hebdo demo
- A feline Friday at Guido
Other Blogs I write for
6000 Miles from Civilisation
A Decent Muesli
Adventures in Capitalism
Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise
Another Food Blog
Antoine Clarke's Election Watch
Armed and Dangerous
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Burning Our Money
Chase me ladies, I'm in the cavalry
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Conservative Party Reptile
Counting Cats in Zanzibar
Deleted by tomorrow
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Englands Freedome, Souldiers Rights
Everything I Say is Right
Fat Man on a Keyboard
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More Than Mind Games
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My Boyfriend Is A Twat
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Never Trust a Hippy
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we make money not art
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Category archive: Africa
Loadshedding, said favourite-blogger-of-mine 6k a few days back, is back, and it makes blogging very difficult. Is this, I wondered, some sort of psychological affliction? I dismissed the question as just one of those questions I could perhaps ask someone about, someone like 6k, but couldn’t be bothered to. Life is full of mysteries, and it looked like, for me, loadshedding would be one of them for ever.
But then came another 6k loadshedding post, this time with a ton of significant looking links, and at that point, I remembered Google. Google answers questions immediately, if it can at all.
When there is not enough electricity available to meet the demand from all Eskom customers, it could be necessary to interrupt supply to certain areas. This is called load shedding.
I see. It’s a South African electricity thing.
Looking ahead to demand for energy in the UK over the winter, Energy Secretary Ed Davey pledged over the weekend: “There will be no blackouts. Period.”
Period. The vehemence of that worries me. It suggests that quite a lot of people are asking the question, and that Mr Davey is starting to get angry about that fact. And if a lot of people are asking the question, maybe the answer is not as Mr Davey says it is. See also: “There is no question of …”. This means that there is, and that someone just asked it.
But, a little bit below the reporting of Mr Davey’s verbiage, comes better news:
Mr Davey’s reassurance comes days after a warning by Professor John Loughhead, of the Royal Academy of Engineering, about the “catastrophic” consequences of a two-day power outage to somewhere like the City of London.
A government science adviser said that power cuts are a bad thing, not that any such cuts are at all likely in the UK this winter. So, this quote actually works as a rather more reassuring denial of imminent power cuts than Mr Davey’s protestations.
Davey’s position is explained at greater length in this earlier report. He says that the Tory backbench attack on wind farms could lead to higher energy bills, and I’m sure it could. After all, if you waste a ton of money on wind farms, you may then get a small amount of energy. If you then scrap the wind farms you then get even less energy, but you still get the bill for the damn wind farms already built.
If wind farms cost more to keep running than they yield in energy, then scrapping them makes sense, and ought to reduce energy bills. But, the scrapping of wind farms might be used as an excuse to raise energy bills again, and could in a sense then be described as a cause of energy bills going up, in the sense that it made it easier for people who want energy bills to go up to contrive that. “Scrapping wind farms could raise energy bills” could be read not as analysis, but more as a threat.
Here. They may not have intended it to be sarcastic, but that’s how it reads.
Incoming from Simon Rose, entitled “End of the World not happening tomorrow”.
What this means is that the End of the World CLUB MEETING is not happening tomorrow, because of a double booking mix-up of some sort. But for a moment there, I was wondering what mad prophecy Simon was taking it upon himself to contradict.
The End of the World Club is an up-market version of my Last Friday meetings. Despite its rather grumpy old man title, these meetings are very good, with excellent speakers. For instance there was that fascinating talk by someone who had lived through the Zimbabwe inflation.
And, I first came across Dominic Frisby when he addressed the EotW Club, about this book. Ever since Frisby spoke at my home, about his next book I have been hearing his voice on television, what with me being fond of TV documentaries. Here (click on that only if you want to hear noise at once) is what he sounds like. More Frisby audio info here.
Email me if you want to know more about these EotW meetings, and I’ll put you in touch with Simon Rose.
If the world ever does end, I want Frisby doing the voice overing for it.
The skeletons of six cats, including four kittens, found in an Egyptian cemetery may push back the date of cat domestication in Egypt by nearly 2,000 years.
The bones come from a cemetery for the wealthy in Hierakonpolis, which served as the capital of Upper Egypt in the era before the pharaohs. The cemetery was the resting place not just for human bones, but also for animals, which perhaps were buried as part of religious rituals or sacrifices. Archaeologists searching the burial grounds have found everything from baboons to leopards to hippopotamuses.
Three policemen in Pakistan guarding the prime minister’s home have been suspended for negligence after a cat devoured one of the premier’s peacocks, it seems.
It seems? Well, did it or did it not?
This Japanese gum commercial makes me wish I had a super fluffy gigantic cat to help navigate the horrors of public transportation and carry me around, avoiding traffic and other pedestrian suckers who don’t have adorable cat chauffeurs. Then I remember that if a cat that big existed, it would probably just maul me to death, ...
Why are there so many cats on the internet?
The problem is that they are asking the wrong question, which should not be “Why cats?” so much as “Why not dogs?” And the answer is that dogs are trying too hard. When a dog gets in a box or hides under the duvet or wears a funny hat, it is because he is desperately trying to impress you – longing for your validation and approval. When a cat does one of those things, it is because it felt like the right thing to do at the time. And it usually was. It is cool, and effortless, and devoid of any concern about what you might think about it. It is art for art’s sake.
This, at any rate, is one of the theories (of which there are an awful lot) about why content related to cats seems to gain so much traction online.
Maybe. I guess that’s part of it.
The original reason for my Feline Friday cat chat is that cat chat on the internet, at first only at inconsequential blogs such as this one but now everywhere, illustrates that the number one impact of the internet is that there is now a new way to be amused, and cats are amusing. The serious political impact of this is that with the internet it is easier to concentrate on what you consider amusing, and to ignore what people who consider themselves to be more important than you consider to be more important. This really ticks them off. Which is nice. The internet puts politicians, for instance, in their proper place, on the sidelines. Cats may or may not be important, depending on how mad you are, but they are amusing.
The willingness of the big old Mainstream Media to tell frequent cat stories, as they now show and do, illustrates that these organs have now accepted that they no longer control the news agenda. If the people of the world decide that it is news that an angry 22-pound cat that trapped a family of three and prompted a frantic 911 call has been sent to an animal shelter, then news it is, and the big old media now accept this.
My Ashes Lag is really being taken care of, by the South Africa Australia cricket, which is in South Africa, God bless it. It starts at Really Early am London time. Crucially, it keeps on doing that. You don’t cure Ashes lag with just one virtuous wake-up. You have to string a bunch of them together. Nothing like a really good test series that starts at Really Early am day after day to do that. It’s just a pity the series is not a fiver rather than a mere threeer.
Australia are crushing South Africa in the third and final game, just as they did in the first game, and just as South Africa crushed them in the second. And I sort of told you so:
Mitchell Johnson won the first game for Australia, then did nothing in the second, but I think I heard that the pitch for the third game will suit Johnson, so maybe it will be an Australia win.
Well, not really, I mostly sat on the fence. But, at least I am not surprised. South Africa are 71-4 in their second innings, with Amla out but AB de Villiers still there. At tea they were 15-3.
I really hope they have lots more one-day games, and that at least some of them start good and early.
The other really good news, aside from the Ashes Lag thing, is that South African captain Graeme Smith has now retired from internatioanal cricket, and can now devote all his energies to getting Surrey back on their feet.
Rather annoyingly, what with me trying to get other stuff done, cricket remained interesting all day, with Pakistan chasing a vast Bangladesh score, in the Asia Cup, or something. The highpoint of that was the innings of Shahid Afridi which began like this, the W at the start being the fall of the wicket that brought him in:
W 6 2 6 1 |6 2 . 6 6
35 in ten balls, in other words. At the start of all that, Pakistan were in a seemingly hopeless position. After those two overs, the chase was doable, and they duly did it, despite Afridi having a bad back which meant he couldn’t stretch out and avoid being run out, just after he’d raced to fifty.
Tomorrow, the decisive SA v Aus action is likely to come at the start, so that’s more good news on the Ashes Lag front. If early wickets fall, especially that of de Villiers, that will be it. If they don’t, and especially if de Villiers hangs around for a decent time, South Africa would have an outside chance of a draw. But, I doubt it. South Africa’s only real chance is if Johnson gets hurt early in the day, just like Steyn got hurt early on day one.
The Six Nations has been its usual unpredictable self this year. Italy lost to Scotland to claim the Wooden Spoon, or so it looks. Can either of them win any games during the last two weekends? While above them, Ireland, England, Wales and France are all played three won two. All the results are here.
Those top four provide us with a typically delightful Six Nations circle of scores. France beat England 26-24. But last Friday, Wales hammered France 27-6. In round two, Ireland crushed Wales 26-3. So, did England then lose to Ireland by a margin of 2 + 21 + 23 points? No, they beat Ireland 13-10.
England’s winning try against Ireland was a thing of beauty. I recall saying here (here) that England’s loss to France didn’t really bother me, and that England actually looked pretty good. Against Ireland they proved me right.
A clue to that strange circle is, however, that of the first nine games, seven have been won by the home side, including all four games in that circle. The only home defeats were when Italy lost to Scotland, and when Scotland lost to England.
Meanwhile, the cricket series going on between South Africa and Australia is terrific. The games all kick of at 8.30am England time, which makes them the perfect cure for Ashes Lag. Australia won the first game, and I made a point of tuning in promptly for the start of the second game. Sure enough, Australia soon had South Africa reeling at 11-2. But from then on it was all South Africa. They won inside four days, having been desperate to stop it going to five, because the forecast for day five was rain, rain, rain. But was it? I just tried to find out what the weather was like on Feb 24th, but all you get on the www is forecasts. No reports of the past. The weather of the past is another country, it seems.
It may be that the Australia win at Centurion, an away win, will be the exception. England beat Australia 3-0 in England. Australia smashed England 5-0 in Australia. Meanwhile NZ were beating India in NZ. Now South Africa to beat Australia in South Africa? Mitchell Johnson won the first game for Australia, then did nothing in the second, but I think I heard that the pitch for the third game will suit Johnson, so maybe it will be an Australia win.
LATER: I nearly forgot about this, this being Afghanistan Under 19s beating Australia Under 19s, at cricket.
I think it just possible that I may have invented that clutch of blogging phrases involving the word “quota” - “quota post”, “quota photo”, or (my favourite, I think) ”quota quote”. I rather doubt it. More likely I invented such phrases simultaneously with several other bloggers. But, if I did invent this quota stuff, kudos to me. Either way, I do genuinely suspect that 6k at least caught this usage from me. This being because, like me at the moment (although not always), he (always) likes to stick up something every day. Despite him having a life, a job, a family, and other such peripheral blogging paraphernalia.
Often, it’s a quota photo. Like, for instance, this one, …:
I had been trying for a while to work out just what it was that I found so particularly appealing about this snap. What was it that I found so particularly … particular? Then, I got it. It looks to me, not so much like a real sea, as like a static, plasticated sea, as made by a really, really good maker of models.
The sea looks like it is made not of sea, but of solidified glue, or that see-through plastic stuff, called whatever it’s called. Throw a tiny ball bearing at this solid sea, and the ball bearing would just bounce off, with no splashing, and making the same noise it would make if bouncing off a table. The immobile sea would remain immobile, untouched, impervious.
The effect of a solid object rather than a regular sea is, I think, partly the result of the lighting. The effect is more like the way a lamp is reflected in a shiny table top than the way we usually see light on the sea.
But most of all, it looks somewhat weird because it’s a photograph. Photographs freeze moving objects into static objects, and sometimes this makes them look entirely different and unrealistic. A video of the sea would look sea-like. Videoed sea swallows ball-bearings, just like regular sea. Just not this sea, as seen and immobilised by 6k.
All this because 6k likes to have something up, often. And that’s the point of quota posting, for those of us who are suited to it. If you have reasonable taste, then the mere fact of starting doing a blog posting ensures not only that something will go up, but that, really quite often, something really quite good will go up. Like this photo, which I consider to be very good indeed. Often what takes the time, with blogging as with life, is not doing it, but getting round to doing it. The actual doing is often quickly done, and often very well done.
Some of my best blog postings have happened because I wanted to put up any old something, however bad, and it turned out really good.
According to Michael Jennings, the Mercedes-Benz W123 is the vehicle of choice for all taxi drivers in Morocco, which basically means that all transport in Morocco other than by means of legs, human or animal, is the Mercedes W123.
Here is a picture of lots of Mercedes-Benz W123s which Michael took on his travels. They are resting, presumably:
Michael was telling Patrick Crozier and me about this iconic vehicle, and just as he was telling us, look what we found ourselves walking right past, on our way to our pub lunch:
That’s not quite a Mercedes-Benz W123, apparently. But it is the exact same shape.
One of the things I like to photograph, on my walks, is vehicles that are strange or interesting for some reason. Another for the collection.
It may not look much like a Volkeswagen, but it sort of is that. Sturdy enough and mechanically simple enough for it not to break down often, and to be locally mendable when it does. They stopped making them in the eighties, but they are still going strong.
Michael Jennings photoes Cape Bojador
Corrie Chipps pictures the Zimbabwe inflation
I love it that the parents are called Susan and Freddie
Lion steals camera
Signs from the Frenchosphere
Quota photo by someone else
“There is electricity and water, but there’s no phone line …”
Defeating Islam (2): Conversion to Christianity will trump higher birth rates in Islamic countries
Another world cup photo of photographers
Photoing the World Cup
Samizdata and Zimbabwe both on the up and up?
Was it Sweeney? And what else were they trying to suppress?
Death to all who try to tiptoe past our guards while wearing giant baby costumes!
Another Samizdata piece
Africa is big
What a lot of circles
Bowled Harmison bowled Harmison
Kings Cross gasometer sunset travels 6000 miles
Billion Monkeys on Table Mountain!
Adriana and Ivan in Addis
Lots of links
An improbable England win in the Six Nations
Leon Louw talks about the habits of highly effective countries
Sssssssss!!!! White man! Take my photo!!
Other Billion Monkeys at the Globalisation Institute party!
The latest Brian and Antoine elections around the world mp3