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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: Asia

Saturday August 11 2018

I can’t remember how Twitter caused me to arrive at this, but it did:

image

Bananas that are either not ripe enough or too ripe are a constant irritation to me.  This - bananas sold in sets of bananas of different stages of ripeness - looks like a rather good answer.

A commenter immediately joins in and makes this into an argument about plastic in the oceans, the latest Green obsession that replaced the fading fear of climate catastrophe, except that the recent heatwave has now got them back going bananas about how the climate has now changed.  Like there have never been heatwaves before.  The climate presumably is changing, because it always does, but that’s no reason for humans to stop selling stuff to each other.  Or for them to stop thinking of clever and helpful stuff combinations.

Sunday March 18 2018

Ten years ago, plus another eleven days, there was a wedding photo session in Parliament Square, and I joined in, as I always do whenever I see this kind of thing happening:

imageimageimage
imageimageimage

I like how, top left and top right, they tied her train (?) to the railings, to get a better picture.  That gives you just a small hint of how much trouble all concerned go to, to get good photos.  Two Real Photographers, going at it for about half an hour.

And so totally absorbed in what they’re doing that they hardly notice me.  Or if they do, they don’t care.  Besides which, given what a spectacle, in a good way, they are making of themselves, they probably agreed with me that they were fair photographic game.

I wonder what sort of life they are living now.  A good life, I hope.

Thursday February 15 2018

Here:

image

The best comment I can think of is another photo, one of the many that I took in the Churchill Dungeon, this one being an item for sale in the gift shop:

image

I love words.  I sometimes I fail to think of the right ones, but they never fail me.  It just that I am sometimes not worthy of them.

But I found some good ones this time, I think,

Thursday January 04 2018

For ages now, I’ve had these two pictures hovering about on my screen waiting to be put next to each other on my blog and then forgotten about, because they look quite like each other:

imageimageimage

But, do they look enough like each other for it to be interesting?  Maybe not.  But there are times when you have to say to yourself: It’s only blogging.

On the left: Shakib-Al-Hasan, noted Bangladesh cricket allrounder.  On the right, what he will turn into when a little bit older, or would if he had whiter skin: noted American actor Gary Sinise.  Photos found here and here.

Monday August 21 2017

If you think this game was a mismatch, try this game.  Myanmar 45 all out off 22 overs in what was supposed to be a 50 overs each way game.  Malaysia 46-0 in 4 overs.  Ouch.

But what interests me is the names of the Myanmar side: KK Lin Thu, Lwin Maw, Zarni Thein (c), Min Wai, Paing Danu, Y Naing Tun †, H Lin Aung, Thuya Aung, YK Ko Aung, Y Naing Kyaw, S Htet Wai.

These guys are not just a bunch of expat Pakistanis who do construction work during the week and play cricket at the weekend, not that there’s anything wrong with that.  These are real Myanmarians.  Humiliating though this must have been for these guys, the scorecard alone tells us that the game seems to be spreading.

I hope they manage to learn, from this drubbing, that cricket is tough, rather than that it’s a waste of their time.

Tuesday July 04 2017

Yesterday I attended a Royal Opera House Covent Garden dress rehearsal, of Puccini’s Turandot.  Never having seen Turandot on stage before, I learned a lot.  The singing was pretty good, especially the choral singing, but maybe I say “especially” about that because I generally prefer choral singing to “operatic” solo singing.  The staging looked appropriately splendid and exotic.

But the best fun of all was, afterwards, finding this bizarre piece of writing by Michael Tanner, for the Spectator.  What is bizarre is that Tanner disapproves of the characters and he disapproves of the “happy ending” at the end of Turandot, like some myopic Victorian moralist objecting to King Lear because of what sort of people they are and because of what happens at the end of that.

Turandot is obviously a very wicked and tyrannical ice-queen type of a woman.  But Calaf earns Tanner’s special condemnation.  This is because Calaf, being from Asia in olden times rather than the Home Counties of England now, prefers conquest, sexual and political, to the love of a good woman.  He is going to subjugate Turandot, sexually and politically, or die trying, and damn the consequences.  But in Michael Tanner’s world tenors are not supposed to think and behave like that.  Their job is to embody virtue, not watch while the slave girl who has been in love with Calaf throughout the opera is tortured and then commits suicide to spare herself more torture. After which Calaf carries right on with subjugating Turandot.  But the fact that Calaf is not the sort of person whom Tanner would want marrying his sister is rather beside the point.  Or to put the same point a quite other way, it is exactly the point.  It isn’t just the setting of Turandot that is exotic.  These are profoundly different sorts of people to those that Michael Tanner, or for that matter I, approve of.

This is like denouncing the Ring Cycle because Wotan is a god rather than a geography teacher, or because the dragons in the Ring Cycle do not behave like hedgehogs.

Calaf was also criticised by Tanner for standing still and just singing, instead of doing lots of “acting” in the modern style.  But Calaf’s whole character is that of a would-be ultra-masculine tyrant.  And tyrants instinctively exude power and strength, for instance by standing still in a very masculine chest-out pose, and singing very sonorously, rather than by doing lots of fidgety acting.  It is their underlings and victims who do all the acting, by re-acting to people like Calaf.

However, it often happens that critics who denounce works of art in rather ridiculous ways nevertheless understand them very well, and often a lot better than the people who say that they like them.  They absolutely get what the artist was doing.  It’s just that they don’t happen to like it.  I recommend Tanner’s piece as a way of understand how very different Calaf and Turandot are from their equivalents in, say, La Boheme.

Friday June 09 2017

I am consoling myself for the depressing current state of British politics by thinking about cricket, which has been pretty good, despite the weather.  The Champions Trophy is in full swing, and the hosts, England, have not been eliminated after their first two games.  They have, on the contrary, already got to the semi-finals.

The big victims of the weather have been the Aussies.  They were about to win their game against Bangladesh by a mile, and if twenty overs of their run chase had been completed they would have won.  But, to the tune of four overs, their run chase did not last for twenty overs.  Instead there was rain, and they got only a draw, or whatever it’s called.  The Aussies could well lose tomorrow, to nothing-to-lose already-through England, and if they do, they’re out.

On Tuesday, England beat NZ in Cardiff, with Cardiff seeming to be just about the only place in England (so to speak) where a nearly full day of cricket was possible.  On Wednesday, the South Africa Pakistan game was another of those Will-They-Complete-Twenty-Overs-Of-The-Run-Chase? games.  They did, and Pakistan won it, which was a surprise.

But then, whatever Pakistan do, it’s a surprise.  The cliché question is: Which Pakistan team will turn up?  And the cynic’s reply is: Either the Pakistan team that has been paid a small sum of money to win, or the Pakistan team that has been paid a rather larger sum of money to lose.  That may be a monstrous slur, and of course no official-type commentator would be allowed to say such a thing out loud.  But really, the contrast between the rubbish that Pakistan served up in their first game, against India, and how they played then against South Africa was downright bizarre.

Especially dramatic was yesterday’s amazing run chase by Sri Lanka, to beat India at the Oval.  And guess who won that game for Sri Lanka.  Yes, it was BMdotcom’s favourite cricketer:

Mendis was named Man of the Match for his innings of 89 off 93 and Mathews said that he and the team had benefited from speaking to Sri Lanka’s previous No. 3 before the match. “He [Mendis] met Kumar Sangakkara to get a few batting tips, and he’s the king, and we all look up to him. We all get advice from him, all the batters. He taught us a lot of good things on how to play on these tracks. Yesterday the guys met him and took a lot of advice and went out there and implemented it.”

With luck, after King Kumar has ceased playing for Surrey at the end of this season, Surrey can, from time to time, get him to come back and talk to them before big games too.  Without him, their batting now looks like it will be decidedly thin.

To digress a bit from the Champions Trophy, Surrey (complete with King Kumar) will today be starting a four day county game against Essex, and outside my window it was, when I starting concocting this, raining.  Which means that it was quite likely raining also in the Guildford area, Guildford being not far away from me and Guildford being where this game is happening.  Yes, there has been a bit of rain in Guildford today, but otherwise the forecast is good for the next few days.  Play is scheduled to start at 1.10pm.

Contrary to cliché, it actually doesn’t rain that much in England.  It does rain, of course it does.  But not nearly as much as most foreigners seem to think it does, given how much we talk about it and grumble about it.  The problem is that English rain is not predictable, like a Monsoon Season, or some such thing.  And when it comes to cricket, it doesn’t take much rain to screw things up.

Today, it’s NZ v Bangladesh in Cardiff, but oh dear, I see that a “wet outfield” is delaying things.  But it looks like they’ll get a game.

One day ...  One day, someone will invent a magic lazerbeamy thingy that you will point upwards from the perimeter of a cricket ground, like a circle of upward-pointing searchlights zeroing in on a Lancaster bomber over WW2 Germany, which will divert the rain into big buckets on the perimeter and keep it off the pitch.  Rain stopped play will then be history.  We can all dream.

Meanwhile, King Kumar should lead prayers for the rain to hold off for the rest of this tournament, and for all rain currently earmarked by the weather gods for England to be deposited instead in South Africa.

Friday February 24 2017

Here via here (Ephemeraren’t?).

My favourite (scroll down here) is this one, a Buddha under construction in Thailand:

image

Sculpture that’s of something.  Scaffolding.  A magnificent crane.

Excellent.

Scaffoldage
To Tottenham (6): The Spurs Shop
Matt Ridley on the educational discoveries of James Tooley
Asian wedding photoshoot
Another fine day at the Oval (2): Jason Roy – and an extreme contrast
Van Art
Sports thorts
Designing a building to fit in with The Wires!?
When is a creature suitcase idea a creature suitcase design?
Borats!
Architecture as modified cliché
Green Park wedding photos
Don’t mention The Wires!!! in South Korea either!
Don’t mention The Wires!!!
Cat photo and cat news
The Dragon Bridge of Da Nang
Two skyscrapers joined by a bridge that is a swimming pool
T20 fun and games
Dencity
Hampers can be annoying
Quotes of the day
University of California chickens coming home to roost?
Nerd spin talk overheard by Jarrod Kimber
Kazakhstan landscape
Today I’m in a “How very odd!” mood
Choosing a Clean Food Outlet in Lawas is as easy as ABC
Health and safety on a mountain in Borneo
NZ doing a bit better than England
Sportsmanship by us – bullying by them
I can now copy and paste from .pdf files
Mmmmmm … Asian skyscrapers!
Abandoned Bangkok tower
Ten thoughts about the Pakistan cricket corruption story
Tiny Cardboard Box People Appear All Over Singapore
Why not just sell them?
Big Singapore Thing
The US Navy photos itself
Chained cat in Vietnam
Changing faces of Europe
Colonial Governor’s Mansion dwarfed by modernity
Africa is big
What’s this for?
Malaysian footbridge for everyone except … gephyrophobiacs?
My Wheel’s bigger than your Wheel
Self-guided photo-tour of the streets of San Francisco
Michael Jennings on telecoms at Samizdata
The robotic future
Eee PC not eeesy to get in Asia either
Rain stops Murali
Operation Cat Drop and some Hello Kitty Bags
Alisher Usmanov is now better known for being nasty
Taipei with skyscraper
DMZ