The top bit of Alderney looks like a conductor

Yes. Did you know, that the top bit of Alderney, the northern most Channel Island, looks like a conductor. With a baton.

Photo on the right there, photoed by me from the plane back to London from Brittany, in July 2007. Now suitably rotated and cropped.

It would seem that a lot of people don’t know that. I can find no other references to this on the Internet, but cannot believe that I am the only one to have noticed this important musico-geographical fact.

Did you also know that the French for a conductor’s baton is “baguette”? That may be quite wrong, but I do recall hearing this somewhere, from someone. And it would seem that there may be some truth in this notion.

Quota gallery of rather distant photos of the QE2 Bridge at Dartford

I am getting out far less these days, but am determined that this blog shall not degenerate into a mere succession of rants and complaints about politics. There is more to life than all that stuff. One of the essential features of freedom is that you are not personally obliged to obsess about whatever happen to be the dominant political narratives.

So, a quota gallery of bridge photos, which I photoed on June 10th 2014.

It’s the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge at Dartford, and the furthest bridge downstream before you get to open sea:

As you can see, I didn’t get as near to this bridge as I might have, just within sight of it, which was the limit of my ambition that day. But the day was a fine one, and the foreground clutter and low-tide mudscapes were diverting. And the walk back from this spot, back to London, was most enjoyable, aside from the stench of some huge sewage processing plant, or some such thing, that operates around there.

Memo to self: Take another trip out to this bridge, and get nearer to it.

I googled the Great Barrington Declaration and got there straight away

I am now following Nico Metten on Twitter, who has long been anti-Lockdown, well before I was. Not sure whether this is because he only just arrived on Twitter, or merely because I only just found him.

Whatever, I just read this tweet from Carl Vernon, which Nico has retweeted, which says this:

Google “The Great Barrington Declaration” – the petition signed by over 10,000 scientists, docs and experts – and it’s completely gone. Nowhere to be seen.

Welcome to the new method of burning books.

So, I did google “The Great Barringon Declaration” and I immediately got there, in seconds. It’s putting it very mildly to say that I am not the cleverest googler there is, but I had no problems at all. Multiple references, including, near the top, the GBD website itself.

Is Carl Vernon lying? Or is his world somehow different from mine, and did he jump to paranoid conclusions? Does google tweak what it tells different people? Did the GBD temporarily disappear? I’d love to know the answer.

Lots of tweeters in response got there too, immediately. And lots of other tweeters said: DuckDuckGo! Maybe I will. Although I don’t mind being tracked. I don’t care who knows my choices. I just don’t want to have my choices censored or otherwise hidden from my view.

Two versions of Boudicca and the Wheel

I haven’t managed many London photos here recently, or at any rate not as many as before You Know What. But here are two, of the same scene, differently lit, and both elaborately cropped to make them cover the same visual territory:

On the left, how it Boudicca and her daughters and her horses and her chariot, with the Wheel and its shadow behind her, were looking on a sunny-with-clouds day back in February 2016, and on the right the same stuff quite recently, on the same day I photoed this dramatic skyscape, just over a week ago now.

On that same day on October 10th, with its dramatic sky, I also photoed another version of the shadow cast by the Wheel upon the Shell Building, shadows of all sorts, and those particular ones especially, being something of an obsession of mine. This is partly because it goes to how people see, compared to how cameras see, which is another obsession of mine. We see shadows one way, and cameras see them another way. Even as we look at shadows, We sort of unsee those shadows, so that we can grasp the reality of the shapes in front of us, and discount those light contrasts. We project what we know is going on in front of us, past the shadows, so to speak. Cameras just gobble up the contrasts created by the shadows and report them faithfully.

James Lindsay on the Wokists and a change of mind by me about Marx

On the basis of it being recommended by David Ramsay Steele, I watched and in my turn now recommend this interview, in which James Lindsay describes and explains the Woke phenomenon.

In particular note what Lindsay says just after half an hour in, at 33m 50s. He says that the Wokists are dangerous, not because they all have a lust for violence as such, or not to start with. What they have is a passionate and unswerving belief that their principles should be installed into power. Because of the splendour of those ideas, all the world’s problems will then be solved. There’ll be no need for any violence. The world will simply be transformed into a utopian dream of perfection.

Which, of course, it will not be. That’s when the trouble cuts in. At that point, the Wokists will only have one remedy, namely violence against all those who have been pointing this fact out. The only alternative would be abject surrender, to the reality of how institutions do and do not work, and to all the millions of people whom they will by then have antagonised. At which point, the Wokists will be highly liable to follow the path previously beaten by the Stalinists and the Maoists.

This explication actually changed my mind about something of genuine importance, which is a rare experience for me. I have been in the habit of describing Karl Marx, the GrandDaddy of all these Utopian cultists, as evil, that is, as knowingly destructive and knowingly corrupt intellectually. He knew his theories were nonsense and would kill thousands if not millions, but he didn’t care. But now, following James Lindsay, I am more inclined to regard Marx as merely having been hopelessly deluded, just like the Wokists now. Marx had no great “lust for social catastrophe”, to quote a phrase I recall having used about him. No, his problem was that he didn’t think there’d be any need for a “social catastrophe”, following the historically inevitable triumph of his opinions. “Socialism” would simply proceed, smoothly and inevitably. No fuss, no muss. Unlike the Stalinists and the Maoists, Marx never had to watch all his cherished ideas result in social catastrophe, and hence to decide to resort to mass murder to shore up his otherwise impossible position, as he might have done had he lived to see the Revolution that was contrived in his name and to witness its utter failure to achieve its declared ends.

Schubert Piano Sonata D959: Andantino

Towards the beginning of Lockdown, I was bingeing on Haydn symphonies. And I did that posting pretty much so that I could remember having done this. I don’t suppose many of my mere readers even read that posting.

Now here’s another posting about another classical music binge I am still not entirely finished with, again, so that I at least can have a record of this binge having happened and what triggered it. This recent binge began as a mere attempt to have another binge, which can be interesting, but which is not the real thing. I would binge, I decided (you don’t decide these things – they decide you), on the piano music of Franz Schubert.

However, this pseudo-binge became genuine when I listened to the CD by pianist Christian Zacharias the cover of which you now see to your right. I had found myself concentrating not on Schubert’s piano sonatas, but on the smaller pieces, with titles like Dance (of some sort), or Moment Musical, or Impromptu. And I was finding the first of the “other pieces” on this disc, the one described as “Sechs Deutsche D820”, particularly diverting, not least because I don’t recall ever having heard it before. I must have played this CD through when I first bought it, because I play through all the CDs I buy, but that piece at least left zero impression on me.

But, probably because when it had finished playing it I couldn’t be bothered to get up and change it, I started listening to this CD again from the start. And the second movement of the big piano sonata that the CD is mainly devoted to, the one snappily entitled “D959”, really got my attention. This movement begins with a gently conventional tune. But then, after about two and a half minutes, perhaps because Schubert was a dying man and he knew how this felt to him, it starts to veer off into a strange parallel universe, all of it composed by Franz Schubert, but sounding more like the arrival of a demonic anti-Schubert from the future, who shoves real Schubert off his piano stool and instead starts improvising around the theme that real Schubert had been playing, with ever more oddity and ferocity and lack of good taste, culminating in passages of such manic brutality that it sounds more like some fifth-rate failure of a late twentieth century German would-be classical composer whose only means of attracting any attention is to take a masterpiece from the established repertoire and smash it to pieces, and then con Deutsche Grammophon into making a recording of resulting mess, which is bought by gullible idiots, or by people like me because it’s in the £1 box on the floor of my favourite second-hand CD shop, and we all then listen to this derangement once and never again. This bit of genuine Schubert really is that deranged.

The illustration above on the cover of that CD, ought to include an angel of death, or some such thing, in the background of that cosy domestic scene.

Here is how expert music critic Misha Donat describes this movement and this extraordinary episode in the middle of it, in the sleeve notes that he wrote for this Mitsuko Uchida box of Schubert Piano music:

Like several of Schubert’s late slow movements, it has a more dramatic middle section; but never did he conceive a more astonishing outburst than occurs at the heart of this piece. It is a moment that offers a vision of wild despair, if not actual madness, and its impassioned style anticipates the keyboard writing of a much later generation of composers.

So it’s not just me that is astounded by this extraordinary musical moment.

If you want to hear what I and Donat are writing about, here is a video of Alfred Brendel playing this amazing movement, which lasts about eight minutes in all by the time it has almost (but never quite) calmed down again. I have already gathered up every recording I have of it, and am listening to it again and again.

Oscar yawns

My favourite cat, Oscar, is the cat housed and maintained by GodDaughter2’s family, down in the south of France. Search for Oscar on the left there, and you’ll encounter several other postings featuring Oscar, as well as postings that refer to such persons as Oscar Wilde.

Here, from GD2’s Dad, is the latest Oscar photo. This is him, yawning:

I like that. The lighting has gone a bit wrong at the top, but I don’t care about that and nor should you.

As I told GD2D earlier in the week, I meant to post this yesterday, Friday being my day for such postings, but yesterday was a bit fraught, what with life and everything happening, and I forgot.

Rules are important. Without rules, society descends into chaos and civilisation itself collapses. And we’d none of us want that, would we? So I do realise that putting a cat photo up on a Saturday is not good. But it’s Oscar, and if I were to wait until next Friday I might forget again, and I don’t want that. Best to get this done. That way, it’s done.

How politics and sport are spreading the truth about Covid

I still think that this earlier posting here was right about the direction that British public opinion is moving on the subject of lockdown, but I was clearly wrong about how far it had already changed and how much further it has to change before lockdown is done away with. Mea culpa. Bubble thinking.

The problem is that a majority has been scared into thinking that Covid, which is a bit harmful and sometimes very harmful to those whom it harms, and deadly to those whom it kills, is much more harmful and deadly than it really is, statistically speaking. Almost everyone who “gets” Covid – almost every Covid “case” – is going to recover.

One of the means by which public opinion will come to its senses is when it notices that many people are testing positive for Covid, but that not many of these are dying. This is why celebrity Covid cases are so important.

Trump “got” Covid, yet is now, apparently, thriving. A piece of anecdotal evidence goes … tick. Then a bunch of other people close to the White House “got” Covid. The Democrat media rejoiced, but failed to think ahead. None of these apparently stricken Republicans has died, which I know because if any of them had died, the Democrat Media and their offshoots in Britain would have yelled it from the rooftops. Tick tick. Next, we learned, some prominent Democrats “got” Covid. Excellent. The more the merrier. I hope and expect that none of them will die either. The immense sway that American politics has in Britain ensures that many here Britain will notice these anecdotes and learn the lesson of them. Tick tick tick. Covid is much more widespread than the lockdown fanatics have been saying, and much less deadly. Lockdown has done nothing to stop the spread. But humans have proved much more resistant to the Covid virus than had at first been assumed.

Particularly important is the number of well-known sportsmen who have tested positive for Covid. I follow rugby union. An important Premier League play-off game was won by one side, simply because members of the other team tested positive for Covid. Now, it is being reported that if a winning semi-finalist team contains some players who test positive again, the team they defeated in that semi-final may now, despite having lost, may now play in the final. So, if Covid was as deadly or harmful as had been feared, there should be deaths and retirements in some numbers happening quite soon. There will not be. Tick tick tick tick.

The importance of politics and sport is that politicians and sportsmen don’t seem to have the option of being tested positive, but then keeping quiet about it. This is because, in their world, they have to keep going, unless there’s a public reason not to. Other celebrities, notably actors, can conceal having tested positive. They can just be “resting”, and keep it to themselves. Thus, when they don’t die either, it will not be very noticeable, so actors are contributing less to public enlightenment than you might suppose, given how celebrated the most celebrated of them are. Tom Hanks, also not now dead, chose to reveal that he had tested positive, but did he have to? Surely not. But politicians and sports celebs, the sports people especially, are, with their very public medical histories, telling the Covid story like it is. There’s a lot of it about. But, we should all just take our chances and be allowed get on with our lives. A few old and frail ones will lose this anti-lottery. Most will not.

All this is bound to have consequences for public opinion, given how seriously lots of people follow sport, sport especially.

Has anyone said that they opposed Lockdown at first, but now favour it? If they have, I missed it. The movement in public opinion is all one way. Politicians who fail to get out in front of how things are moving will suffer electorally.