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Monday November 29 2010

Well, that was one weird weekend.

If you dislike blog postings which ramble on and off in all directions at excessive length, then you had perhaps better stop reading this one now, because as I start writing this, I have a lot of things in my head that I now want to ramble on about.

For starters, I’m back being ill.  A sort of permanent throat distortion, that makes coughing a constant thought.  It never accomplishes anything, but I keep wanting to do it.  More troublingly, I am starting to have mild stomach pains and headaches.  A combination of the flue bug that is doing the rounds, and mild hypochondria, probably.  (Although, a friend has now suggested that Lemsip might also be the culprit.)

Next up: my sleep patterns are shot to hell.  Despite not having left London for about a year, I am now jet-lagged.  The recent see-saw cricket match between England and Australia in Australia put the tin lid on that tin, but the tin was already there and filled with nocturnal wakefulness, put there by the extreme difficulty of getting to sleep when in bed, hugely exacerbated by that throat thing.  Sleeping in my armchair early in the evening, with the television as likely as not blaring away, easy.  Getting into bed, switching off the light, and then sleeping, not so easy.  Hence the temptation of not even trying to go to bed until I really am very, very tired, and confident of getting quickly to sleep once the light is switched off, in other words very, very late.  And once you do that a few times you’re stuck.

In the small and getting bigger small hours of Saturday morning, I decided to (a) attack the problem of non-productivity during the wide-awake dead-of-night and (b) thereby stay awake so long that I could solve the jet lag problem by adding another huge gob of it and cancelling it out, instead of vainly trying to subtract from it.  Sleep all day Saturday, starting as late as possible, and get to bed at a proper time Sunday evening.  That was the plan.

So, at about 5 am on Saturday morning, instead of going to bed, I wrote a (though I say it myself) ripsnorter of a posting for Samizdata called They are not liberals and they are not progressives, and then added what seemed to me to be a pertinent SQotD for good measure.  In an early comment on the liberals/progressives posting, I expressed the hope that I might get lucky with linkage in the USA.

Meanwhile England had been taken apart in the cricket.  This was the night (i.e. Australian day) when Hussey and Haddin were making their 300 stand.  The blogging was partly an attempt to take my mind off that horror.

Finally, at about 9 am, I went to bed, the video set to capture all the rugby during the day on the telly, ...

To be awakened at about 10 fucking am by fucking banging in one of the very nearby, probably right next door flats.  Someone was getting rid of a bookshelf or hacking away some plaster or some pipes or some damn thing. For two hours I lay awake, hoping it would stop.  I gave up and got up.  At which point, of fucking course, Sod’s Law cut in and it stopped and never resumed.  But I did not know about that, did I?  By the time I realised that the banging was over, I was wide awake again.  This is the absolute only time that there has been such banging in the morning in the last three months.  None before.  None since.  Bastards.  Total, total, bastards.  And yes, since you ask, I was very tempted to use full stops there.

Further albeit metaphorical hammering followed when England then got hammered at rugger by South Africa, despite having promised so much against Australia.  In retrospect, what the rugby pros always say about how if you play behind a winning scrum attacking with your backs becomes massively easier ... well, that’s true.  Australia have a weak pack.  Genius backs but a weak pack.  South Africa have a very strong pack, and very decent backs.  I videoed the highlights of this game but have yet to watch them.  So, England hammered at rugby and in the process of being hammered at cricket.  The only two sports I really care about.

But, while I was sleeping or perhaps while I was later lying awake in bed cursing the universe, Instapundit had linked to They are not liberals and they are not progressives, adding extra punch to the title by calling it They Are Not Liberals And They Are Not Progressives, quoting the key paragraph, and adding, getting the point totally: “So what do we call them?” I could tell that something like this had probably happened even before I looked at Instapundit, because in my email inbox was a flood of emails resulting from a flood of comments on the posting, including many from people with totally unfamiliar names, and almost all of them intelligent and getting the point of it all.  I had hoped that Instapundit would oblige, what with my point being about what American politico-obsessives of my persuasion call their local enemies (which is his kind of topic), if only with a one line posting, but of course you can never assume you’ll be Instalaunched.  A posting with the money quote quoted was ideal.  So, England are crap at rugger and cricket.  These are mere games.  This is the future of mankind, and my contribution to that future.  My opinions are now echoing around the USA, and I haven’t even been there!

Some time Real Soon Now, I want to do another Samizdata posting about Instapundit and the difference he has made to life, the universe and everything, both a personal thank you and a thank you on behalf of the universe.  People often do thank him, as here, for noticing this posting or (as here) a previous posting.  People often digress about what a fine fellow he is, before getting stuck into some particular thing he likes to say, and how very true that is of how things are here in London or Toronto or Phoenix or Timbuktu or wherever.  Not so often does anyone focus directly on the man himself and the man’s considerable achievement, with that being the point of the piece.  But, has anyone - anyone - had more impact on the current political landscape of the USA, and hence the entire world, than Glenn Instapundit Reynolds?  Name someone else.  Seriously, think about that.  And if you have any thoughts about this (I think) fascinating individual, please write them down as comments here.  This even (in fact especially) applies if you do not share my very high opinion of Instapundit.  Boring plonker, is he?  Tell me why.  You won’t convince me, but your inability to understand this person will flesh out my understanding of him, just a little.  Because he is a bit boring, but only in the same kind of way that a quite complex machine, that is fantastically productive and which never, ever breaks down, is also boring.

A good global financial system would be boring too.  But also, like Instapundit, it would be a very good thing.

Okay so on Saturday night and then Sunday morning, and having had pretty much no sleep the “night” before, I had a chance to clobber that jet lag by going to bed at a proper time.  And I did, but then I wake up far too early, to have a piss basically, and I clock into Cricinfo just to get the bad news that will confirm how totally cricket is only a game, and England are ... 238 for 1 at tea on the fourth day.  238 for 1.  Nearly level.  This is too good to ignore.  Cricket, after all, is an important matter.  More than just a mere sport.  It’s central to the way of life of two great nations at opposite ends of the earth, Britain and Australia, especially Australia.  By the time England (as Britain’s cricket team is known (it has twice been captained by Scotsmen (most notably Douglas Jardine))) had reached 309 for 1 - 309 for 1 - at the close of play, I was wide awake again, and jet lag remained horribly undefeated.

And the next night was just as bad.  When once again I should have been attempting an early night and many hours of slumber, England proceeded until near to tea time, reaching an unprecedented score of 517 for 1 wicket, which rather put Australia’s second innings of 481 (for 10 wickets) in its place, didn’t it?  Would there then be a clatter of Australian wickets, perhaps even a sensational England win?  Well, as it turned out, not. But how was I supposed to know that beforehand?

It is now Monday evening, and tomorrow I face the self-imposed obligation to be at the British Library at 1pm, to attend a lecture by Alex Ross, which will no doubt plunge my throat into a state of even worse ... worseness.  Also, no chance of spending tomorrow in bed either.  Also, I will have to venture out for food.

At least tonight there will be no cricket in Australia to postpone sleep.  On Thursday night, it starts again, but tonight, and tomorrow night and the night after, there will only be darkness.

Instapundit never seems to link to my writing. Photoessays, quotes of the day, whatever, but not the writing. I find this slightly annoying.

Managing to retain the understanding that my cricket team are crap, even when they appear that they are about to win by an innings, has been weirdly helpful to my serenity, oddly enough.

As for the rugby, we Australians do not care about it. However, the New Zealanders and the South Africans do, so we want them to lose more than we want ourselves to win. A rugby grand slam tour, in which a southern hemisphere side plays one test each against England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, is a big deal for the southern hemisphere teams, whereas the people in Britain and Ireland seem largely oblivious to the fact that there is such a thing. This year, South Africa and New Zealand have both been attempting the grand slam. South Africa managed to lose to Scotland, and so not win the grand slam (which they last won in 1960), meaning that I didn’t greatly care about the result between England and South Africa, whereas I would have been cheering ferociously for England had Scotland not beaten South Africa.

New Zealand did, alas, win the grand slam for the third successive time (although, quite remarkably, only their fourth time in all). Wales put up a fight and then lost it in the last ten minutes, as they did against South Africa for that matter. Hopefully this will only make the All blacks inevitable loss in the World Cup next year even more enjoyable than last time.

And Australia beat France 59-16. When I checked the score a little way into the second half France were leading 16-13. Not sure what happened after that, but it probably involved that backline of which you speak.

Posted by Michael Jennings on 30 November 2010

You have my sympathy Brian, but Dulce et decorum est…
I now prefer rugby league as a spectacle, mainly due to the scrums in union, but I do think Martin Johnson is on the right track.
Agree with you entirely,as almost always except for cats, about Instapundit.

Posted by Tony Hewson on 30 November 2010

Of course, where I grew up, rugby league had about the status and penetration that soccer does in the UK. Although I come from one of the states where rugby is played, I had not seen a game of rugby union (either live or on TV) until I was in my late teens. Nobody outside Australia believes this. (I occasionally have conversations with English people in which I express a certain disdain for soccer, and they then respond with “What do you play then? Aussie rules?”, at which people I express disdain for that too. This confuses them a lot.

People who come from the Aussie rules states will sometimes admit that Australians are interested in rugby because they are unaware that there are two different games but they know that people in Sydney play something.

Posted by Michael Jennings on 30 November 2010

Do you have any objection to inducing your own sleep with tablets? If not, get some Dramamine (motion sickness tablets). Take one and you’ll fall asleep easily. Take two and you’ll be a total zombie even after you wake up.

Also, you don’t get to log onto the web in the middle of the night AND complain of sleeplessness. I used to check my email every time I woke up in the night (on my iPhone), and consequently got very little sleep of decent quality. A year after putting a stop to that, and making some other changes, I get 7+ hours nearly every night and have never been happier.

Posted by Jackie D on 30 November 2010

You are right about the sleep patterns: once you established a routine, you are stuck.
Every parent of a newborn knows that, incidentally: a child who needs to be fed every 3hrs have no conception of night/day, or sleeping/waking cycle; later it is parent’s responsibility to teach him that, as many other things. Some learn pretty quickly, some are very stubborn and feel energized at 3 in the morning and are dosing off in 3 afternoon. In those cases, pediatricians usually advise to gradually push the sleeping time to the desired hours and to not let the kid snooze off in daytime.

It takes about 3-5 torturous days to switch the schedule, but then your off time is synchronized with civilized universe again.

Posted by Tatyana on 01 December 2010
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