Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
Patrick Crozier on The Real Premier League and how its expansion from four to seven has revived the FA Cup
Drone API on UPS drones and drone vans
Friday Night Smoke on A picture of a book about pictures
A Rob on A picture of a book about pictures
MyDroneChoice on UPS drones and drone vans
Brian Micklethwait on … but there were some cute lighting effects
AndrewZ on … but there were some cute lighting effects
Brian Micklethwait on Eastern towers
Alastair on Eastern towers
6000 on Anti-BREXIT demo signs
Most recent entries
- When what I think it is determines how ugly or beautiful I feel it to be
- Big Things with foreground clutter
- Battersea Park bird
- Colourful clothes in Cordings
- The Real Premier League and how its expansion from four to seven has revived the FA Cup
- 2012 and 2016 times 2 – London on the rise
- Stripy house can stay stripy
- Mr Ed has some metaphorical fun
- A picture of a book about pictures
- To Tottenham (8): Zooming in on some Big Things
- Playing golf versus following cricket
- Quota bicycles
- Another Capital Golf car
- Battersea Power Station then and now and soon
- Timing shits instead of forcing them
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
Art Of The State Blog
Boatang & Demetriou
Burning Our Money
Chase me ladies, I'm in the cavalry
China Law Blog
Civilian Gun Self-Defense Blog
Coffee & Complexity
Communities Dominate Brands
Confused of Calcutta
Conservative Party Reptile
Counting Cats in Zanzibar
Deleted by tomorrow
Don't Hold Your Breath
Douglas Carswell Blog
Dr Robert Lefever
Englands Freedome, Souldiers Rights
Everything I Say is Right
Fat Man on a Keyboard
Ferraris for all
Freedom and Whisky
From The Barrel of a Gun
Gates of Vienna
Global Warming Politics
Greg Mankiw's Blog
Guido Fawkes' blog
Here Comes Everybody
Hit & Run
House of Dumb
Iain Dale's Diary
Jeffrey Archer's Official Blog
Jessica Duchen's classical music blog
Laissez Faire Books
Last of the Few
Libertarian Alliance: Blog
Liberty Dad - a World Without Dictators
Lib on the United Kingdom
Little Man, What Now?
Loic Le Meur Blog
L'Ombre de l'Olivier
London Daily Photo
Metamagician and the Hellfire Club
Michael J. Totten's Middle East Journal
More Than Mind Games
Mutualist Blog: Free Market Anti-Capitalism
My Boyfriend Is A Twat
My Other Stuff
Nation of Shopkeepers
Never Trust a Hippy
Non Diet Weight Loss
Nurses for Reform blog
Obnoxio The Clown
On an Overgrown Path
One Man & His Blog
Owlthoughts of a peripatetic pedant
Oxford Libertarian Society /blog
Patri's Peripatetic Peregrinations
Police Inspector Blog
Private Sector Development blog
Remember I'm the Bloody Architect
Setting The World To Rights
SimonHewittJones.com The Violin Blog
Sky Watching My World
Social Affairs Unit
Squander Two Blog
Stuff White People Like
Stumbling and Mumbling
Technology Liberation Front
The Adam Smith Institute Blog
The Becker-Posner Blog
The Belgravia Dispatch
The Belmont Club
The Big Blog Company
The Big Picture
the blog of dave cole
The Corridor of Uncertainty (a Cricket blog)
The Daily Ablution
The Devil's Advocate
The Devil's Kitchen
The Dissident Frogman
The Distributed Republic
The Early Days of a Better Nation
The Examined Life
The Fly Bottle
The Freeway to Serfdom
The Future of Music
The Happiness Project
The Jarndyce Blog
The London Fog
The Long Tail
The Lumber Room
The Online Photographer
The Only Winning Move
The Policeman's Blog
The Road to Surfdom
The Wedding Photography Blog
The Welfare State We're In
UK Commentators - Laban Tall's Blog
UK Libertarian Party
Violins and Starships
we make money not art
What Do I Know?
What's Up With That?
Where the grass is greener
White Sun of the Desert
Why Evolution Is True
Your Freedom and Ours
Arts & Letters Daily
Bjørn Stærk's homepage
Butterflies and Wheels
Dark Roasted Blend
Digital Photography Review
Ghana Centre for Democratic Reform
Global Warming and the Climate
History According to Bob
Institut économique Molinari
Institute of Economic Affairs
Ludwig von Mises Institute
Oxford Libertarian Society
The Christopher Hitchens Web
The Space Review
The TaxPayers' Alliance
This is Local London
UK Libertarian Party
Victor Davis Hanson
WSJ.com Opinion Journal
Bits from books
Bloggers and blogging
Brian Micklethwait podcasts
Cats and kittens
Food and drink
How the mind works
Media and journalism
Middle East and Islam
My blog ruins
Signs and notices
The Micklethwait Clock
This and that
Category archive: Language
I love it when a metaphor gets mixed. But here is a metaphor that is not so much mixed as turned on its head. It’s Samizdata’s Mr Ed, commenting on this, describing how our former PM David Cameron hoped that his EU referendum would see off UKIP and stop it sucking votes away from the Conservatives. And it looks like that referendum will indeed see off UKIP, but not in the way that Cameron campaigned for.
Says Mr Ed of this referendum:
… a chance to lance the boil ended up boiling the lance.
Patrick Crozier (a couple of comments later) liked this also.
What particularly impresses me is how Mr Ed made use of those double double meanings, both of “lance” and of “boil”.
Incoming, from “Phani”, to Cricinfo, during this game:
“Raina is trying too hard. Take a cue from Mccullum, start timing shits instead of forcing them. Be there till the end, not the usual batting paradise this.”
At the end of the ninth over of the Gujurat Lions innings, if you don’t believe me. I’m guessing it will remain thus.
It’s never good to be forcing your shits. On the other hand, being too rigid about the timing of them is often what leads to you forcing them. Like Raina, you find yourself trying too hard.
And a Happy Easter to all.
Indeed, a decade ago to the day, on the grass outside Westminster Abbey. The word “selfie” didn’t then exist, but that didn’t stop anyone from doing it. It was because so many were doing it that the word was needed:
I like how the soles of their feet are the bit of the photo that’s most in focus.
My first use of the word “selfie” was, according to my blogging software, in this posting. It’s all about me.
You hear this phrase a lot, along with its twin “No, yeah …”. Sportsmen in particular use this phrase a lot, especially cricketers.
A couple of days ago, I was sitting having a drink with a friend, and I heard a regular human being at a nearby table use this strange expression. And straight away, I listened to myself in amazement as I immediately explained to my companion why people, especially cricketers, say this. I had no idea why this nearby person had said “No, yeah” - or was it “Yeah, No”? - but quite suddenly, it became clear to me why cricketers so often talk like this.
Consider the following example, from earlier today. Gareth Batty, the captain of the Surrey cricket team, is speaking about Surrey’s fine win, completed this morning, against Warwickshire, in a four minute video that you can watch at the Surrey website, here.
Surrey’s two best players in this game were, first, Mark Stoneman, who made a big hundred which enabled Surrey to get a big first innings score of 450 odd, and second, another Mark, Mark Footitt, who wrecked the Warwickshire first innings reply, with figures of 9 overs 2 maidens 14 runs 6 wickets, which are very good figures. Footitt in particular was a match winner. A batsmen can make sure his team doesn’t lose the game, but a bowler can, often with brutal suddenness, win the game, and Footitt won this game, in one brilliant afternoon of bowling. He got Bell and Trott, both recent major England batsmen, both for ducks, in one over. Warwickshire never recovered. Yesterday Warwickshire batted quite well in their second innings, Trott in particular, but it was too late. This morning Surrey got Warwickshire’s last few wickets and won by an innings.
So, of course, Gareth Batty was invited by his video interlocutor to agree that Stoneman and Footitt had been brilliant, as they had been. But Batty had something else he wanted to say. He wanted to say, and did say, that this was a team effort. Everybody contributed. We all hit the ground running in our first game of the season. Well done all of us. Well done all our hard work in training, all that pre-season effort in the nets, and all that. And when he’d finished saying all that he said how great the Surrey fans had been. Message: we all pull together. Not a few individuals. The team, in fact the entire club and its supporters.
So, before all that, by way of introduction, how did Batty react to the claim that he should be singling out Stoneman and Footitt for praise, and also be talking about a brilliant catch by Borthwick to get Bell out when Bell looked like staying a lot longer with Trott than he did and threatening to save the game, and giving Borthwick a name check also. By saying: “Yeah, no …” You can hear him say this just over a minute into the video.
What gives is that Batty is saying “Yeah” to the inescapable facts being presented to him. Stoneman and Footitt did play brilliantly. Borthwick’s catch was also superb, and a game-changer. So he is not going to disagree. So: “Yeah”.
But: “No”, because Batty wants to say something else instead, which he then says.
The “root cause” so to speak, of the Yeah, No, No, Yeah thing is that typically, when sportsmen are being interviewed, they are knackered, and have had no time to think what the hell to say, and in any case mostly don’t make a living doing sport after being top of their class at school in elocution, and they have to be helped. And the way that sports interviewers help sportsmen is typically by supplying them with a ready-made answer and asking them to agree. But often, the sportsman, while not wanting to contradict exactly, doesn’t want fully to agree either. If he personally did brilliantly (that often being why he is picked out to be interviewed), he doesn’t want to deny that he did indeed do brilliantly, exactly, but he would rather say that it was, you know, nice to do well, and pick out a few other team-mates by name who also did quite well. So, he starts by saying “Yeah, no”. Yeah, he did well, but no, not that well. He of course thinks that he did brilliantly, sure, but he doesn’t want to say it, because then everyone, and especially his team-mates, would think he’s a arrogant pillock.
Batty, today, agrees that two particular guys, whom he makes a point of not naming, did indeed do well. “They don’t need me to tell them” how well they did, is how he puts it, and then talks about the whole team. By saying “Yeah, no” at the beginning of all this, he is neither wholly agreeing nor wholly disagreeing with the “question”. He is more, as it were, sculpting, modifying, diluting, shifting the emphasis of, changing the balance of, what has just been put to him. Yeah, it’s not wrong. But no, he wants to say something else.
I just sent out the mass email flagging up Chris Cooper’s talk on the Rise of Our Robot Overlords, chez moi, next Friday. I have asked his permission to reproduce his entire spiel. Meanwhile, here is how it begins, which I really like:
I’ve only recently realized the staggering implications of the project of AGI, or artificial general intelligence – the Holy Grail of present-day AI research. (I prefer to talk about AGIs, or AGI systems, rather than “robots”; “robot” has tin-man connotations that are part of the problem – they suggest the possibility of fraternization.) …
Which is why the talk is now officially entitled: “The Threat to Life and to Liberty of Artificial General Intelligence”.
These robots, whose pronouncements I have been following in recent days and weeks, don’t seem very fraternal:
They sound more like they’re artificial general intelligence.
Before we entered the Royal Opera House to endure and eventually to enjoy Die Meistersinger my friend and I wandered around Covent Garden, and chanced upon a shop selling artfully decorated skateboards, in other words looking like this:
As soon as I was inside this shop I asked if I could take some photos, and they said: snap away. So I did. I took the above photo first, which gives an idea of what it was that got my attention. And then I took a lot more, of which the following were the least worst:
I know. Lots of reflections in the shiny surfaces of the skateboards. But, you get the pictures.
A cat is involved (1.3 in the above clutch). A rather rude cat, but a cat. At first, I thought I ought to hurry the posting up and have this ready for last Friday. Then I thought, no, wait until next Friday. And then I thought to hell with that, I’ve nearly done it, I will post it when it’s done.
These artistically enhanced boards have all the relaxed and unpretentious exuberance of graffiti, of the sort I most regularly observe in Leake Street under Waterloo Station. You don’t have to read some idiot art-speak essay to find out what the hell this or that skateboard is “about”, even though it is sometimes obscure. “SHAKEJUNT”. “HAND IN GLOVE”. “FIVE BORE”. “FLIP”. You probably have to be a skateboarder to get what words like those mean. Which probably explains why I like the giant TV remote the best. That I definitely understand.
However, a magic ingredient that separates these skateboards from graffiti is that the skateboards come with added property rights. Once you’ve painted your own particular skateboard, that’s how it stays painted. Which means you can really go to town on it, make it really great, confident that some other artist won’t paint over what you’ve just done.
There is also the fact that a skateboard, unlike graffiti, can be moved hither and thither, which means it can be bought and sold. This means that politically sane people will gravitate towards decorating skateboards and political ignorami will prefer graffiti, property rights and civilisation being things that go hand in hand, as do attacking property rights and barbarism. Sadly, this does not necessarily mean that the skateboard art will be better, because mad artists are often better than sane artists. Plus, you can now add the magic of digital photography to graffiti, thereby preserving it. But as art objects, these skateboards will, unlike graffiti, be profitable and permanent.
Here’s the final photo I took, complete with the guy who said I could take all the other photos, despite knowing I wasn’t in the market for a decorated skateboard, but was merely interested in an art gallery-ish way:
I asked this guy for a card or something, so I could put a link to the place here, as I have done, see above. He didn’t have anything on paper. But then he thought: have a bag:
And that’s how I knew what the shop was called and where to find its website.
I hope this posting doesn’t do any harm to this enterprise, for example by diminishing its street credibility. Do things still have street credibility? Or, to put it in more recent parlance, is street credibility still a thing?
A few days back, probably because it has long been aware of my fascination with cat fascination, the Great Machine in the Sky presented me with this advertisement:
Click on it to get to what was being advertised.
What it is, of course, is a system for a machine to become aware of other machines in its vicinity and thereby to communicate with these other machines, and this system is the work of CAT. But the idea that a machine might somehow learn to realise if there is a cat in its vicinity, and would then, if there is, feel compelled to alert other machines to this menace, is rather clearly suggested.
If you do click on the above piece of horizontality, you will be greeted by the following claim:
WHEN MACHINES TALK, EVERYONE’S SAFER.
In a week’s time, there will be a Brian’s Last Friday meeting at which the speaker, Chris Cooper, will be contesting this claim.
Incoming from Michael Jennings, who encountered this sign at (a?) (the?) Jodhpur Fort in Rajasthan:
Hm, what to do?
Easy. Use a drone instead.
LATER: See first comment. It’s this:
There can only be one fort like that.
Categories updated to include Architecture, History, Sport, and War.
Blog and learn.
My comment on the Six Nations so far
UPS drones and drone vans
And Africa’s rivers don’t help
Softening the brutalities of brutalism with colour
Rod Green on Boys and Men at the time of Magna Carta
What does Thames “RIB” Experience mean?
When welfare means lavatories
English is weird
White vans are becoming very informative
Pochards and Ibises
Cat and cubs
The fixed quantity of laughter non-fallacy
A busy day and a collection of Big Things
Wainwright on facadism
Bike fishing in Amsterdam
With GD2 in Richmond Park (3): Scary names
ShiRtstream drycleaners and a party recollection
For CAR’S read CARS
Christmas is coming and you’d better watch out
Architecture as modified cliché
Memo to self about not letting blog postings get out of hand inside my head …
Now I know what a Mews is
Trois Citroens (et deux chevaux)
Where punctuation might have helped
Credit where credit is due (in France)
A man taking a Selfie before it was A Thing (and me taking a picture of him)
Out and about with GD1 (3): Baritone borrows my charger
Paul Johnson on Mozart and Da Ponte
Another quota sign
BMdotcom abusive comment of the day
Photoing the old London model
BMdotcom What if? of the day
BMdotcom (mathematical (and sporting)) quote of the day
Early tries by my guys
Pavarotti could not read music (very well)
Fuck the duck until exploded
Is it practise or practice? (And: would perfect communication actually be perfect?)
Sign with sarcastic sneer quotes
Xxxx-ie outside Xxxx-ridges
God was overheating and now needs radical transplant surgery (and Dawkins now has to do my email)
Quota selfie from 2006
What to call the sneerquote Salesforce /sneerquote tower? (plus a quite profound tangent)
TfL electronic signs (etc.)
GARBAGE SHED AND JUMP INTO THE SEA IS PROHIBITED
Emmanuel Todd talking in English (about how the Euro is doomed)
The joyful excitement of the Festival lyrique international de Belle-Île-en-Mer
Premier League soccer news
Two badly lit views of “Victoria Tower” and why Big Ben is not St Stephen’s Tower or Elizabeth Tower
Sorry for the outage last night
JK Rowling describes two rich girls
Boris Johnson’s London
Big Things on a better day
Friend on telly
Sidwell (and me) on selfies
Hampers can be annoying
Monty Panesar: “I piss on your short pitched fast deliveries aimed at my body!”
The Alex Singleton blog
The right sentences but not necessarily in the right order
There are cranes and there are cranes
BMdotCOM mixed metaphor of the day
So painters also used to “take” pictures
The ups and downs of English
Kissa yrittää mennä laatikkoon
Literally the light switch of leadership
BMdotCOM Headline of the week
Choosing a Clean Food Outlet in Lawas is as easy as ABC
Emmanuel Todd’s latest book - in English
Misspelt (correction: Italian) signs of the times
Excellent new word
Pronouncing on the Six Nations
BM.com quote of the day
BrianMicklethwaitDotCom spam comment spelling mistake of the day
The Humpty Dumpty Learning Channel
Obamanomics dod not work
English will not last for ever shock
Another strangely punctuated headline and a depressing television play
K Street - metonym - synecdoche
To Serve Man
Reading various bits of Roger Kimball
I flipping told him
Sounds like a brothel with film star lookalikes
One of the many signs of aging
BrianMicklethwaitDotCom modified cliche insult of the day
Stepping forward into the abyss!
Old-school media versus (or becoming) new-school media (again)
All your Quite Interesting questions answered
What a difference a g makes
Spelling Micklethwait wrong and Googling for Brian Micklethwaite
Long platform ticket
I am not drunk - I just didn’t know what to put so I just started
Excellent mixed metaphor
I need to get out less
“I will cause a boy that driveth a plough to know more of the scriptures than thou dost.”
Metaphor muddle alert
Today I have been blogging elsewhere and also doing other things
Signs of civilisation
It’s true what they say about how hard it is to pronounce Chinese – oh beansprouts!
New word alert
Robots will transform education
On the appeal or lack of it to Young Europeans of “capitalism”
When inimitable means very imitable
Today I ate something that disagreed with me