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: Comments

Tuesday October 09 2018

When I google “crane”, what I want to see is tall pointy things made of metal for shifting stuff around on building sites, not birds posing en masse in a lake.  You can’t always get what you want.

A further illustration of that same principle came when, this morning, I had reason to google “canada goose”, because this time I actually wanted to learn about a bird.  I photoed some lines of birds a while back, in Rye, and blog pal 6k commented today that they were probably Canada geese.  And because 6k backed this up with some migration info that seemed quite informed, this sounded right, despite the fact that Rye is nowhere near to Canada.

So I googled “canada goose”.

But what I got was lots of expensive jackets with furry hoods.  Even after two pages of links to stuff about the jackets, there was literally no mention of any bird.

You can’t sell a bird for thousand quid, I guess.  Or, not a bird like a Canada goose.  I am not the customer of Google.  I am Google’s product.  Overpriced jacket sellers are Google’s customer.

However, if you google canada geese, sanity is restored.  And I think Canada geese migrating is even better.  It would appear from the images you get if you look there that Canada geese do often form great big mobs, fish shoal style.  It can take them a while to get organised into lines.

Friday August 24 2018

Here are two fun and silly and consequently viral animal videos that I was recently shown on Twitter, but they both raise a non-trivial question about animals and their degree of self-awareness.

First up, a cat looks in a mirror, and is surely not aware that the other cat is him/her.  Cats are much stupider than they seem to us, because their basic method of going about things is the way a wise human goes about things, often rather slowly, carefully and thoughtfully, or else in a way that looks very alert and clever But, often they are thick as several planks.

Meanwhile, a dog watches herself on TV doing one of those canine obstacle courses in a show.  Dogs behave like stupid humans, with wildly excessive enthusiasm for stupid things, and consequently we tend to think of them as being very rather stupid.  But the typical dog is a lot cleverer than the typical cat, I believe.  Dogs don’t care how stupid they look.  Cats typically don’t either, but cats typically behave like they do care about looking stupid, unless you dangle something in front of them on a string, at which point they go crazy, unless they are too old to care.

But back to my self-awareness point.

As commenter “Matt” says, of the dog watching herself on TV:

This is amazing I hope she knows its her.

In other words, Matt is no more certain than I am that she does know it’s her.  Maybe she’s watching a totally different dog do what she likes to do, and she’s excited about that, just like any other sports fan.

The cat video ends with a variation on what seems to be a regular internet gag about misbehaving reflections (that vid being in the comments on the cat vid), but that’s a different story.  Someone else adds a Marx Brother, or maybe it’s actually two Marx Brothers, doing the same gag, in those far off days before there was an internet.

Friday August 03 2018

Radio early bird Julia Hartley-Brewer tweeted this photo, early this morning:

image

Best comment:

Enjoy it while you can Julia, because after BREXIT there will be NO sunrise. The Polish and Romanian workers who lift the sun up every morning will be gone.

Those laser beams that her camera has created make the sun look like a ... white hole.

Wednesday June 13 2018

For over a year now, I have been thinking that Jordan Peterson is a fascinating individual.  When he did that Cathy Newman interview and got truly famous, I thought that this was a significant historical event.  Among other things, I started thinking that he will raise the birth rate in the West, by urging its young citizens to be more ready to undertake the responsibilities of parenthood.

So, I found this comment, buried in lots of on-topic comments about this rather good interview of Jordan Peterson by Radio 3’s Philip Dodd, fascinating.  Fascinating as in: proves me right.  Right as in: a bit more right than before, not a lot but a bit.

Totally offtopic: is there a Jordan Peterson dating site for people who know about him?

Know about him as in: like him, agree with him, are fans of him.  But despite being a bit badly expressed, this is surely a highly significant question.  Well, I think so.

I just googled “jordan peterson dating site” and got some related stuff, but not any actual dating site.  But that doesn’t prove there isn’t one, and in any case, if there now isn’t one, there soon will be.

I have just fixed for my Last Friday of the Month meeting on July 27th to be on the subject of Jordan Peterson.  The speaker will be Tamiris Loureiro.

Friday March 09 2018

As a Blackadder fan, I have long known about the use of pigeons during World War 1, to send messages.  Pigeons like the one in this photo:

image

Twitter caption:

War Pigeons were very effectively deployed in the First World War. For instance, they carried messages, like the one being attached to a pigeon by Austro-Hungarian soldiers on the Isonzo Front, which can be seen in this picture.

Quite so.  But what made me decide to post the above photo here was this exchange, in the comments.

“Liagson”:

Were they normally encrypted?

Wayne Meyer:

They used WEP. Wartime Encryption for Pigeons. It was a very early wireless standard.

Blog and learn.  Not only did I just discover that pigeon messages were – of course, they’d have to have been – encrypted.  I also learned that you can link directly to individual Twitter comments.

And what better way could there to learn about the activities of birds than via Twitter?

Tuesday February 27 2018

A commenter on the piece I did yesterday at Samizdata, about Twitter and about Facebook, says of Twitter (the one I now greatly prefer), that it is …:

… like entering a beehive. Opinionated fools screaming at each other. ...

I know what this commenter means.  Personally, I like a bit of opinionated screaming, in among the other stuff I follow.  But I already think I know enough about how Twitter works to believe that if Twitter is a beehive and if you don’t like that, then you should be following different people.  And that’s pretty easy to make happen.

My Twitter is partly beehive, but partly it is other kinder, gentler things.  So, for instance, one of the people I follow pointed me to this, I think, excellent photo, of an owl:

image

I don’t know if you think that’s as good as I think it is, but you would surely agree that this photo is not an opinionated fool screaming at another opinionated fool.  I have added the lady who took this photo, The Afternoon Birder, to my following list.

I have lost track of who it was of my followees that I should be thanking for linking to that.  Twitter is difficult like that.  I rather think that it has a habit of muddling up the order in which postings (tweets) appear, in such a way that scrolling back to find a particular one gets difficult.

Monday November 27 2017

imageWhen I was a teenager, I went on a bike to trip to Iceland (with boated interludes from Newcastle to Reykjavik and back).  The most spectacular thing I saw on the entire trip was on day one: the towers of Croydon.  I will never forgot the amazement of seeing this mini-Manhattan suddenly come into view, over the brow of whatever dreary south London road I was toiling along.  Sadly, digital photography did not then exist. (Although, the fights there would have been in youth hostels over the replenishing of camera batteries would surely have got very ugly.) A big clutch of Croydon’s local politicians were sent to jail soon after then, presumably for auctioning off planning permission for these then highly unusual Big Things.

So anyway, it’s good to see that Croydon is still building Big Things.  Read the comments on this report (complete with fake photos such as the one to the right of this) and you will clearly see that we have here the makings of a future front-runner for the Carbuncle Cup circa 2020.  Some commenters assert this explicitly.  Go Croydon!

Monday April 24 2017

It’s happened again.  I am being made happy by a Mr Ed comment at Samizdata.  That’s twice in two days.  This comment is on this posting, and although I don’t grasp the relevance, Mr Ed provides a link to this BBC report:

A woman who decorated her London townhouse with red and white stripes can ignore a council order to repaint it, the High Court has ruled.

Property developer Zipporah Lisle-Mainwaring painted the candy stripes on the building in Kensington in 2015.

image

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea said it was out of keeping with the look of the area and had served her with a notice to repaint it white.

Mr Justice Gilbart ruled the stripy decoration was “entirely lawful”.
The council had served the notice under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 claiming the “stripes on the front elevation, is incongruous with ... the local area.”

I wonder.  Will this judgement provoke other outbreaks of architectural colour in London?

Stripy house can stay stripy
Mr Ed has some metaphorical fun
Objectivity is indistinguishable from hate
A list of well-known currently performing classical pianists
Trump there
On comments – and some commentary on some Brexit comments
The Sugar Land selfie statue
Art comment
What sort of duck is this?
The Waterloo Eurostar terminal is being revived
Pochards and Ibises
Cruz?
Trump
Blokes photoing
London Biggin Hill “Jet Centre”?
Pete Comley talking about inflation on Friday February 27th
BMdotcom comment of the day
The Not-V2 at London Bridge Station
Ubernomics
Chinos?
How much does it cost to power up a mobile phone?
Guardian online is a group blog that trolls its own readers
Anton Howes – James Lawson – Will Hamilton
Mysteriously losing my internet connection and then mysteriously getting it back
Sam Bowman on Bleeding Heart Libertarianism
On the insecurity of ObamaCare - and on the unwisdom of only punishing big and later
RNSQotD
Rob Fisher on the 3D printing future
Perry Metzger on taking seriously the declared objectives of opponents
Spot the Samsung connection
Talking architecture at the Libertarian Home social
Are Christian social conservatives using the Tea Party to impose social conservatism?
Patrick Crozier has just arranged for accessing ancient comments here to be much easier
How llamas told us so – in November 2008
Turning back the spam comment tide and allowing proper comments from way back still to be read
David Friedman on the similarity between fractional reserve banking and insurance
Bitcoin etc.?
Science can relax about the harm done to it by Climategate
Wisconsin question
BrianMicklethwaitDotCom spam comment spelling mistake of the day
James Waterton on a very smart very dumb Russian
Defeating Islam
BrianMicklethwaitDotCom least obnoxious spam comment so far
Is Timberland guilty of spam commenting me?
Molly Norris was just kidding!
Everybody draw Mohammed on May 20th!
“Is this a case of us operant-conditioning them or them operant-conditioning us?”
Voice and exit
Reds against Blues in Munich
ClimateGate roars on and Man(n)-made warming is taking on a whole new meaning
Twitterings
Prize idiots
God is killing cinemas!
Quotes dump
Old Holborn lets rip at Labour in a Guido comment
The curse of Gordon Brown is now ruining the England cricket team
Two Samizdata comments on the sinking of Brown and on the sinking of the Daily Telegraph
A photo of the Samsung NC10 and the original Asus Eee-PC next to each other
There’s no need to comment on this posting because it’s already perfect
Paul Marks on the financial crisis
On hating and not hating commenters
Lib Dems edge towards school choice
Comment is free and WiFi should be too