Brian Micklethwait's Blog

In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Category archive: Bloggers and blogging

Friday March 21 2014

Scientific American:

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.

BBC:

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?

UPROXX:

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, ...

Guardian:

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.

Sunday February 23 2014

Yes, I’m afraid I’ve been doing rather a lot of quota posting of late.

So anyway, here’s the link.

And here is the quota photo:

image

That’s actually one of my more favourite recent photos.  It was taken just before Christmas, in Twickenham, where Patrick Crozier lives, through the window of a shop where they sell … things like that.

I like the water on the window.

Monday February 17 2014

I think that this piece by Megan McArdle, entitled Why Writers Are the Worst Procrastinators is good.

Quote:

Most writers were the kids who easily, almost automatically, got A’s in English class. (There are exceptions, but they often also seem to be exceptions to the general writerly habit of putting off writing as long as possible.) At an early age, when grammar school teachers were struggling to inculcate the lesson that effort was the main key to success in school, these future scribblers gave the obvious lie to this assertion. Where others read haltingly, they were plowing two grades ahead in the reading workbooks. These are the kids who turned in a completed YA novel for their fifth-grade project. It isn’t that they never failed, but at a very early age, they didn’t have to fail much; their natural talents kept them at the head of the class.

This teaches a very bad, very false lesson: that success in work mostly depends on natural talent. Unfortunately, when you are a professional writer, you are competing with all the other kids who were at the top of their English classes. Your stuff may not - indeed, probably won’t - be the best anymore.

If you’ve spent most of your life cruising ahead on natural ability, doing what came easily and quickly, every word you write becomes a test of just how much ability you have, every article a referendum on how good a writer you are. As long as you have not written that article, that speech, that novel, it could still be good. Before you take to the keys, you are Proust and Oscar Wilde and George Orwell all rolled up into one delicious package. By the time you’re finished, you’re more like one of those 1940’s pulp hacks who strung hundred-page paragraphs together with semicolons because it was too much effort to figure out where the sentence should end.

That last pararaph certainly rings bells for me.  Which is why I find that the cure for blogger’s block is the opposite of self-esteem.  Self-esteem, as McArdle says, gets in the way.  Self-abasement can get you going again.  I’m a crap writer, so anything I do manage to put now won’t make me any worse.  And hey, it may even cheer me up by making me better!

As for that thing about having it too easy in school, I recall Geoff Boycott saying the exact same thing about cricketers.  The ones who were effortlessly good as kids, and who therefore didn’t have to scrap, later often came second best to others who did scrap when they were kids.

Of course, sportsmen don’t procrastinate, because they have a set timetable when they have to perform.  Instead they just do badly.

And I also recall Malcolm Gladwell throwing older brothers into the mix, in one of his books.  Ace basketballer Michael Jordan had an elder brother, who he had to scrap against when young.  I think it was Jordan.

I wrote this just before going to bed, even though I have had the whole day to do something better.

Thursday February 06 2014

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, …:

image

… which I hereby steal, because I like it so very much.  (The rest of that days 6k photo-output from that day can be viewed here.)

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.

Friday January 31 2014

I have my favourite bloggers.  Mick Hartley, 6k and David Thompson being my most regular visitees.  Two of these three (see those two links) often put up clips of their favourite bits of music, which I pretty much always ignore.  Often, when confronted by other people’s favourite musical snippets, I already have music playing, on my separate music box which is nothing to do with my computer and which therefore works when I most need it, which is when my computer is not working.

I tend not to do stick up bits of my favourite sort of music, which is classical.  Partly I’m lazy and am not very clever about putting up Youtube clips here.  But I could put up lots of links (one follows below) to classical stuff.  But, I tend not to.  There are enough reasons for people to strike this blog off their weekly-read list or whatever, without me putting them off even more with bits of classical music.

Now, first off, I have no problem with bloggers posting whatever they like.  Their gaff their rules.  I put whatever I like (as in like to put) here, and they can put whatever they like to put at their places.  But, am I the only one who almost always ignores music at other people’s blogs?  Most of us like lots of random bits of pop music, old and new.  In my case, there’s also a ton of classical classics I like a lot, and others also have their favourite genres that they know all about, adore some of and like a huge proportion of. 

I mention this because, entirely for my own selfish reasons, I particularly want to be able to remind myself of this clip of someone called Yulianna Avdeeva playing Chopin, particularly well to my ear.  And maybe that’s it.  Bloggers use their blogs as personal filing cabinets, just as I do.  They put up bits of music because they want always to be able to get hold of that bit quickly, and now they know they can.  The readers can just wait for the next posting, and pick up where they left off.  (That link, by the way, is to a bit of classical music at a blog that specialises in classical music.  Quite often I do play the clips she features, because her kind of music is my kind of music.  What I’m on about here is musical clips at blogs which are mostly about non-musical things.)

I think another point being made with these bits of music is the point I make with my occasional Friday cat blogging, which is that a lot of the appeal of blogging in particular and life in general is pure enjoyment.  And music, perhaps more than any other art, and especially when no words are involved or in the case of the more upbeat and silly pop tracks, is all about pure enjoyment.

By the way, when I started writing this, I thought that David Thompson also featured occasional pop snippets.  So I went looking for his latest pop snippet, but found that actually he does not do this, or not lately, hence no link to any music at his blog in the second sentence of this posting.  But I did find this talk, by Greg Lukianoff, about the growing menace of the I-Am-Offended industry on American campuses.  Quite long, but recommended.

SInce I started on this posting, Mick Hartley stuck up another pop clip.  Again, I have not listened, and probably won’t ever.

Friday December 13 2013

When tube drivers get above themselves and start doing stand-up comedy routines over the intercom during tube journeys, I find this nearly unbearable.  I think this is because, when on the tube, I go into a sort of trance, basically to cut out the din of the train, but comedy over the intercom makes that trance impossible to stay in.  I find myself listening carefully, despite myself, in case the exhibitionist failed comedian says something of importance, and with that, I am obliged to listen also to the train noise.  Horrible.

This (photoed yesterday by me at Embankment Tube Station), on the other hand, is not something I mind at all:

image

That’s right, platitudinous philosophical ruminations where there should be significant information about service interruptions.  But, it didn’t bother me.  In fact, I quite liked it.

Writing, as I recall writing in this piece (about how to argue), is a branch of good manners.  (In that I actually said “publishing”, but the point is identical.) This is because writing is easily ignored.  It puts the reader in control.

The same applies to blogging, in fact to the internet generally.  It isn’t an interruption.  You are in complete control of it.  Except when the damn thing starts making noises (like those damned tube comedians), that you have to spend ages tracking down the noise and switching it off.

Wednesday November 27 2013

This evening I hope to be attending an Event.  And now, having performed all my obligatory duties for the day, I am turning my attention to this blog.  I am very pleased that for the last however many days it is, I have managed at least one blog posting here every day, and I want today to be no different.

It is now, as I write this, just after 1pm, and the Event is not until the evening.  Yet, I find blogging even under such relaxed circumstances as these extraordinarily difficult.  I do not mean truly difficult.  I merely mean extraordinarily more difficult than it surely ought to be.  Even a window of several hours, yet a window which has a definite end when I have to stop the blogging and start to do whatever it is, seems, maybe, too small.  What if my writing catches fire?  What if what began merely as a small quota thought ignites into a long essay?  What if I suddenly decide that I want to add photographs, know the photographs I want to add, but do not know where they are on my hard disc?

Luckily for me, nothing clever is now occurring to me of the sort that will make ending this blog posting difficult.  No added photo seems needed.  So, I will just end it.

There.  Easy.  I reckon that took about ten minutes.

I will even have time to take some shirts to the laundrette, and have a clean one ready to wear, at the Event.

Saturday November 16 2013

It was Hemingway, I think, who said that thing about how your writing is only as good as the stuff you remove from it, or words to that effect.  (Exact quote anyone?)

And I think one of the reasons why some writers especially like blogging is that a personal, I-write-what-I-please blog like this one (but done by a Real Writer who also does Real Writing) is where such offcuts can go, and still have a half life.  The offcuts are no longer completely wasted.  But neither do they get in the way.

A blog as a semi-dustbin
Pain in the midriff
Simon Gibbs last night at the Rose and Crown
Guido in the Spectator (and in Free Life)
Chain link fence reflected in a puddle
Quotes from there
A free man
Getting started a bit earlier
Rob Fisher on the 3D printing future
The Alex Singleton blog
A fake feline photo and a faltering feline enumerator
The Johnathan Pearce Samizdata gap
On the pleasure of assuming the worst
The right sentences but not necessarily in the right order
the Norlonto Review is back!
Alastair James on Blythe Hill Fields and smartphones
Bad times for the NHS
Is Samizdata in danger of becoming a photo-blog?
Nice blog you have here … shame if something happens to it
All change at Samizdata and another outage here
On how being linked to enables you to tell your story as you wish and why long titles are good
Patrick Crozier has just arranged for accessing ancient comments here to be much easier
And on my other personal blog …
This is transport
Say it again Perry
Is Samizdata dying?
America 3.0
Lighter blogging here but not none
Matt Ridley’s demolition of CAGW
A review of Detlev Schlichter’s new book (multiplied by 4)
Alex Singleton has a new blog
Big Things and small things
A board to stick Post-it notes on reminding me of all the things I hope to blog about
Less (here) is more (at Samizdata)
My personal Fixed Quantity of Blogging unfallacy
A Good Old Day at Samizdata
The politics of humour in the USA and in Britain
Everything competes with everything
The most celebrated sporting win ever
Quota choke?
BM.com quote of the day
Why I prefer blogging to writing for a magazine
On the rise of Bishop Hill
Sean Gabb’s recent statement about the Libertarian Alliance
David Thompson’s blog is now four years old
On pictures that don’t get any bigger when clicked and on the power of the tangential
Yet more redirection
Leytonstonia
A down and up weekend
Obamanomics dod not work
Another ephemeron for David Thompson?
Giant Jesuses
Paulina Porizkova gets older
Blog hiati
Transport Blog restarts
10/10/10 launch for Norlonto Review
What if the British Empire had stayed together?
A blog posting linking to a science article
Woody Allen on media lies and on not learning as he gets older
Anti-aircraft guns may not have killed many enemy airplanes but they did point them out
Is Timberland guilty of spam commenting me?
“An alternative definition of intelligence …”
Sneezing chat
Natalie links back
Making those Big Statements one slice at a time
Robert Chambers
Muggins
A good bit about the future of art galleries and how to rescue good bits
Three cheers for Molly Norris but also a few small grumbles
Goddaughter One is now a photoblogger
I flipping told him
Why David Hepworth is wrong about podcasting
Will I ever tire of writing about the relationship between the new media and the old?
BrianMicklethwaitDotCom blog posting title of the day
BrianMicklethwaitDotCom understatement of the day
Old-school media versus (or becoming) new-school media (again)
India looking good against Sri Lanka
ClimateGate roars on and Man(n)-made warming is taking on a whole new meaning
The angst of team blogging about stories like the CRU hack
What’s up with this?
Samizdata and Zimbabwe both on the up and up?
A great Johnathan Pearce Britain-can-dump-the-EU blog posting - and the value of informative titles
Climbing aboard Samizdata
Rude Ian Morbin should have a blog
Unfair advantage?
Johanna Kaschke versus the Deluded Leftwinger
Quotes dump
Back
Chrome now seems better than IE or Firefox
Idiot Toys is broken!
Summer break
Cat blogging and Gormley blogging
Minimum Wage flatvert at Guido’s and Iain Dale’s
Snapping the police
Our shortening atten … ooh look!
Quota posting
Is the original version of this with all the spelling mistaks what goes on all teh uther blogs?
Edinburgh’s skyline doesn’t suck
UK libertarian bloggers 2.0
Indy Flatverts and a Guido Q&A
What next for Guido Fawkes?
Thinking thin at the top
Tea hea
Thoughts on the Go Gordon petition
Who are all the UK libertarian bloggers?
Globalisation Guido – and other Bright Young Things
Two Samizdata comments on the sinking of Brown and on the sinking of the Daily Telegraph
Hail Guido
There’s no need to comment on this posting because it’s already perfect
James Tyler’s speech at Policy Exchange
Daniel Hannan and the shape of the media to come
Clay Shirky on newspaper doom
Redesigned Bishop
The Rand revival - and some thoughts about Rand’s failure to understand architectural tradition
Clockwisdom and wisdom
Effing newspapers
You don’t wait for it – you go looking for it
Advice to daily bloggers
More random links
P. J. O’Rourke confuses the average with the significant
Why Willem Buiter blogs and why I do
Billion Monkey hits 40
New addition to blogroll
That went okay
JD gets PTD
I need to get out less
Nothing here again
Guido Fawkes conflates the Monetarists and the Austrians – needs to chat with Antoine Clarke
Busy at my other personal blog
Mini-lit
Notes on libertarian tactics August 2008
Will Wilkinson
Not in the top twenty
Clang
Cats are (as of) now being counted in permanent italics
Linkable Lefever
Mainstream media bloggers and the problem of my blogroll
Today I have been blogging elsewhere and also doing other things
Permanent Bold Disease strikes Brassneck
PID strikes Guido
Ducks - frogs - turtles – beavers – Galaxy Quest
Guido on Gordon
Underestimating crime
Stuff God Hates
Oddities and specialisms
An impulse posting about procrastination
PID hits DK
Kings Cross gasometer sunset travels 6000 miles
This is why I put stuff up here every day
Coffee House struggles with Permanent Italics Disease
Travis Perkins of Pimlico Road are not good at delivering timber
A blogger mutates towards being a journalist
The return of Friday cat-blogging
Instapundit succumbs to PID
Permanent italics disease at the Coffee House
The eloquence of the Bishop and a lady holding a big wheel
I love the internet
He is white and he is poking fun at himself
The white stuff
Obama a loser?
Posting with Jesus at the far end of the Kings Road
On hating and not hating commenters
Flat horse pictures
Not obviously but maybe …
Blogging – the end of the beginning
Now we aren’t allowed complete sentences in brackets
Facebook – not so social
Another don’t-get-it-right-get-it-written Samizdata posting
A bog standard (but rippling and therefore ultra-cool) tower soon to be built in Chicago
Engadget suffers from intermittent giant text disease
Treating the internet like the printing press
When the penny drops
Probably not right - but definitely written
Finally …
November 15th 2007 resolution - good enough is good enough
What kind of blogger are you?
It’s the decline of old-school advertising that’s really hurting old-school journalism
The business of gadget blogging
She’s alive I tell you! Alive!
Blogging as thinking aloud
Breaking blog silence
Che Guevara was a murderer and your T-Shirt is not cool
The permanent italics disease
An education link
Rival demonstrations in Parliament Square
Link
Alisher Usmanov is now better known for being nasty
Blogs are not cacophonous
Ideas and opportunities
Pleasure
Publogging
Adriana and Ivan in Addis
When inimitable means very imitable
Splog is the new splig
Lots of links
Short picture of a long distance
Voluntary World 3: Transport Blog illustrates the Muggins principle
Left behind?
How compulsion deranges the spreading of ideas
I know the feeling
If they don’t get who they would have preferred then silly them
A movie about a typeface
Lebrecht daily?
Susie Bubble turns shopping into a job with her blog
Stupid Billion Monkeys!
The Great Global Warming Swindle debate now begins
Umbrellas and other gadgets
“I already knew most of what they were to try and teach me …”
Fat Man on a Keyboard
Susan Hill on not having to be up-to-the-minute about book blogging
It’s only a Billion Monkeys if you count mobile phones (and then it’s far more)
One man one blog
One Man and His Very Thin Blog
The future of music
Normblogging
Me on internet telly this evening with Andrew Ian Dodge
Blogging has arrived
ASI blog post deleted under fire
Superb Simon Hewitt Jones gig – and a couple of blogger gripes
Screwed by Google – and Google screwed by the kitten-bloggers?
What next for the virtuoso violinists? - Simon Hewitt Jones has some answers
Everyone in the world is not like me
Perry de Havilland on the thinking behind Samizdata
Spreading the word for free
Antoine says why he got the midterms wrong
Load - fire - howl in agony clutching foot
“Publish it in your Blog!”
Hands off the Net
Talking with Tim Evans about the Libertarian Alliance
Antoine Clarke and I don’t talk about elections
Grassy car with blog
Editing as falsifying
Me on 18 Doughty Street tonight
How blogging is making Conservatives more polite to each other
Thoughts on the Age of Google
Greatest hits – good idea
Blogging is filing for those who can’t
Blogging pause continues
29th and 14th
Latest Brian and Antoine mp3 - Middle East, Mexico, USA
Patrick and Brian mp3 about libertarianism and spreading libertarianism
The More4 news blog – I’m grateful but I’m also confused
Treacle
Kristine writes down some of what Adriana said
Jeffrey Archer - blogger
Being real on digital
Adriana’s Thing mp3
Unpaid happiness is not misery but it is a step in that direction
Blogging takes longer than doing things - a picture - and why does a hot bath make me colder?
Guido’s narrative
One click
Latest Brian and Antoine mp3 on democracy etc. - UK, Latin America, China
“We are looking for a Cricket obsessive . . .”
The latest Brian and Antoine elections around the world mp3
Bashing on for Samizdata
This is Iain Dale’s seventh favourite non-aligned blog
Banana phone
Spleeyiiiich-glockglock-glockle-PLOINK
On style and politics
Nosh
Unintended consequences
Wichita line (and colour) man
It’s help Brian with his new computer time
They really were excellent
Election Watch podcast number three
How links have weakened the mainstream media
Wrong comparison
Quoted but not linked to
Blogging fun and blogging profit
Antoine Clarke
The new comments arrangement – why and how
The Micklethwait Clock suffers
Flickr blog in and Flickrzen out
“What on earth gives every computer owner the right to exude his opinion, unasked for?”
The problem of long blog postings
Dr Robert Lefever
Iain Dale
Another permanent link
Deep fried eyelids anyone?
“The Internet has also brought a new class of people into politics”
The return of the prodigal
He loved my book
Talking about my generation
The Great Gulf War?
AngloAustria joins the blogroll
Some ins and outs to and from the BrianMicklethwait.com blogroll
Very readable blog but rather unreadable links
I am not too clever
More about music bingeing
Not well
Welcome back and goodbye
New blog?
And this blog is my blog of the day
Is sit-down comedy the new rock and roll?
A brief posting on causation and responsibility
What we eat but not what we say
The Micklethwait Clock is now back to being right
Perry and Adriana in the Guardian
tompeters!
“They needed one another”
This and that at 9.07am
When blog meant something different
Everything
The risk of not taking any risks
Cillit Bang made-up twat
What the …?
Progress
How can intelligent decent people be so badly mistaken?  And did 9/11 make you more opinionated?
I’m seriously thinking of restarting Brian’s Education Blog and Brian’s Culture Blog
More on Katrina
A new word for a new menace
On short postings
Today I am going to break the record here for the number of postings in one day
Blowing Smoke all over old school advertising
On error correction
From now on I’m going to try to put something up here every day
The joy of blogrolling
Giving the blogs what they want