Snow

Twitter is good at telling you about news, and today, the news has been: snow. I know. Who saw that coming??? Apart from the short-term weather forecasters, I mean.

Here are some snow pictures:

That would be a photo of the Shard. Would be because it is mostly a photo of snow, and the Shard is only just make-out-able behind the snow.

Here are two more conventional snow photos, where you can see buildings but very boring ones, the ones outside my kitchen window:

On the left, the snow descends. On the right, my neighbours make a bendy triangle of footmarks. I didn’t find those photos on Twitter, for I took them myself.

Without doubt my favourite snow-photo today was this:

Says @MisanthropeGirl: Satisfying. I agree.

But if we are talking about snow and cold, nothing since then has touched 1963. According to that story, in 1963 the sea froze.

Ah, 1963. Marlborough lost its entire hockey season that term, early in 1963. The frustrated school hockey captain was a famed future hockey international. I still regret that I never got to see him play.

It gets worse. That Christmas, the “house”, Littlefield, where I was a boarder at Marlborough College Marlborough Wilts, got burnt down, just before the “spring” term began. We lived in huts, like prisoners of war. The dormitory was another hut. I had a hot water bottle. When other Littlefieldsmen first saw this hot water bottle they sneered, but they were soon wanting to hire it from me, but I wasn’t having that. I needed it in my bed. And I distinctly remember, one morning, that this hot water bottle, in my bed, in the morning, had … frozen. I swear. There were icicles in it.

So, February 2018, I spit on your cold. Your cold could not even freeze my spit.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Barn owl in winter

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:

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.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

My new FZ150

No, I’ve not bought yet another camera. I refer to the new Panasonic Lumix FZ150 that I bought myself, as a late Christmas present, in January 2012. When I look back through my photo-archives it becomes clearer and clearer that this was the moment when my photos really started looking pretty.

On February 1st 2012, I posted nine of the photos I had taken on January 30th, of my fellow digital photographers. Here are nine more photos of photoers, that I took on that same expedition:

In these photos, we observe some dedicated photographers, with their SLRs, some hobbyists with what are still only cheap cameras, and, inexorably on the rise, smartphones.

One more for luck, an example of a genre I grow ever more fond of, the perhaps rather (in this case very) blurry bird, in flight:

I cropped the original, to hide the photoer’s face.

Yes, I picked nine good ones to show you, back in February 2012. Now I can easily show nine more just as good, and then another that I only now noticed.

That was the change that new camera brought with it. Before it, I took the occasional good photo, and many bad ones. When the FZ150 arrived, I took quite a lot of good photos, and as many bad ones as ever.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

A fixture clash

I’m watching the France v Italy rugby game, which happened earlier this evening. It kicked off at 8pm. But I had a meeting at my home, which also kicked off at 8pm, so I had to ignore the rugby until now, late in the evening. But I set my telly-recorder, and all was well with that, so now I am watching it. As of now: France 5 Italy 7. Two imperfect teams, both desperate to “play rugby”, which means run like mad and score tries, which makes for a great spectacle for the neutral. The game, so far, has been what is technically known as “frantic”.

I am now on Twitter, observing but so far not contributing, and normally, following my meeting, I’d be catching up with that. But one of the Twitter things I follow is rugby, and I don’t want anyone to tell me the score. The only way to be sure of that not happening is for me to ignore Twitter, until the game is over. As in: over for me.

As for my meeting, it was addressed by Jordan Lee. Superb.

One of the good things about these meetings is that because there is no camera running, and because the aim is basically only to make sure that we don’t have the same damn conversation month after month, I can take a chance with speakers. I knew Jordan Lee would be okay, by that standard. But I had no idea he’d be as good as he actually was.

He talked about his work as a teacher of troubled children, the kind that have got spat out by regular schools, at a place with the wonderfully made-up-sounding but actually real name of Wishmore Cross Academy. Cross is right, judging by some of the dramas that Jordan described.

The gist of what Jordan Lee said was: there’s no easy answer to what the rights of children ought to be. They can’t be completely free, like adults. Nor can their parents own them and be allowed to tyrannise over them.

France are now winning, after fluffing a lot of earlier chances. Commentator Jonathan Davies said that they needed to be more clinical, and finally, they are starting to do that. France 24 Italy 10. I was hoping for an upset, but it ain’t happening. Later: 34-17, which looks like being it. France have only three tries and need another for a bonus point. France pressing, but no, France couldn’t manage that fourth try. France 34 Italy 17.

Bed.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Worse than bad form

There were so many fun things in Churchill’s underground wartime lair. Some of my favourites were not to be seen among the genuine antiquities. Rather were they mere reproductions, on sale in the gift shop. Of these, I think this one, a wartime poster, spoke to me most eloquently, from that far off time, just a handful of years before I was born:

I have always been very careful to refrain from dressing extravagantly.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Small Lego buildings and small 3D printed buildings

One of the photos illustrating this report:

Can we please have a Lego London?

I just typed “lego london” into google, not expecting anything helpful. A Lego cow in London. Lego shops in London. General Legonic activity of all kinds, in London. I did not expect to be told, right at the top of the list, about making London in miniature, out of Lego. But, I was immediately shown this:

Cancel my request for Lego London. It already exists, and it is very bad. Indeed, I would say that using Lego to mimic a very particular looking thing on a tiny scale is the very essence of what Lego is bad at doing, and the fact that Lego seems to spend so much of its time and trouble and focus and resources doing this exact thing spells its long-term doom. The whole point of Lego, surely, is that you can make everything – everything, that is to say, that you can make out of it – with a few generic shaped objects. Just like the Meccano of my youth, in other words, but architectural rather than mechanical. A big Tower Bridge, yes, good idea. A big Big Ben, not bad. But tiny versions of these, stupid and totally unrealistic? See above. Stupid.

For that, what you need is a 3D printer. And the smaller you make your small buildings, the more of them you can have in one spread.

A subset of them could be made to be exactly the right size for making buildings to attach to miniature railway layouts. So, do railway modellers use 3D printers, to make, not trains, but train layout appendages? It would make sense.

I just image googled railway modelling 3d printer, and got mostly 3D printed trains and train bits, rather than architecture.

Could making such models be the domestically owned 3D printer killer app? Because so far, a domestically owned 3D printer killer app has been conspicuous by its total absence, and any company which has tried to make its fortune making domestically owned 3D printers has gone bust. Such modelling – trains and houses and mountains and stuff – was all the rage when I was a kid, but all that has since been replaced by computer games. But might not those computer games in their turn come to seem rather dated? As is not the making of things now returning to the rich countries again, now that the computer guys are applying their wizardry to stuff-making? Conceivably, toys may some time soon become three dimensional and material again, with swarms of robot cars and lorries replacing the trains.

Probably not, because things seldom just come back into style like that, any more than dance bands ever did or ever will. More likely, the kid’s games of the future will involve some variation on virtual reality, which is to say they’ll be computer games only more so. If so, we might see a further reduction in the crime rate (see below).

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Television – video games – crime

These are experts whom I want to believe, so I do:

Violent video games may actually reduce crime as aggressive players are “too busy” shooting virtual enemies to cause trouble in the real world, experts claim.

I have long believed that television caused crime waves, in each country it arrived in, by immobilising the respectable classes inside their respectable homes and handing the world’s public spaces over to non-television-owning ne’er-do-wells, every night. It is not the sex-and-violence-on-telly that causes the crime. It is the near total absence of these things. Violent people were repelled by telly, because it was so abysmally well-behaved.

I myself have spent a huge proportion of my life watching television. Had television not existed, I would have been out in public places fighting crime, by looking like I might notice it and then give evidence against the ne’er-do-wells committing it.

But now, with the rise of video games, it is the ne’er-do-wells who are busy playing video games. Video games are not well-behaved. You get to kill people, and to commit grand theft upon autos. If duty calls, it calls on you to kill yet more people.

Presumably, this evening, the public places are all deserted. I wouldn’t know. I am watching television.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog