Recently purchased books

Photoed just now:

Although, I should say that I didn’t actually purchase Kristian Niemietz’s book about
Socialism. I tried to buy it, at a recent IEA event, but they wouldn’t take my money and just gave me a copy. It’s very good.

Excerpt from We Now Know, here. Could have downloaded a pdf of the whole thing. But, don’t like pdfs. Prefer books.

There are more that I didn’t include. E.g. one by fake-antiques architect Quinlan Terry that is too wide. (Fake architectural antiques are a good thing. The world now needs more of this. Terry does them very well.)

Memo to self: A habit I must cultivate better is the ability to read a book, while seated in front of my computer, concentrating on the former and ignoring the latter. The internet is just too damn interesting. But books are extremely interesting also, and I love to read them. Or at least: I love to have read them.

I love Amazon. I miss remainder shops.

Black Drongo and Crested Serpent-eagle + snake

Taiwan Birds (well worth a long scroll down there (some truly amazing birds (I think))) yesterday featured this remarkable photo …:

…, and has this to say about it:

Congratulations to Chen Chen-kuang … for winning the Hamdan HIPA Prize for his shot of a …

… see above.

And there was me thinking that “Drongo” was just a word made up by Australians to describe … drongos. Apparently drongos really exist, and presumably drongos behave in a way that Australians disapprove of.

Taiwan Birds adds:

Never leave your camera behind! And spend years refining your skills …

Indeed.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

On supporting Spurs – but not properly

Well, it’s official. I care more about cricket, as played by anyone, than I care about football, as played by Spurs, the football team that I tell myself I support.

If I truly support Spurs, how come I only bothered to wonder the next day how badly they had lost to Barcelona recently, in their clearly doomed attempt to qualify for the last sixteen of the European Champions League, or whatever they call it? Answer me that. On the night, I was so concerned about when the next test match between Australia and India would start, and whether I could hear any commentary on it, that I completely ignored Spurs. When you consider that this Barca/Spurs game was on Tuesday night, and that the Australia/India game didn’t start until the small hours of Friday morning, you can see what a crap Spurs fan I am.

It was only some time on Wednesday that I internetted the news that Spurs had got a draw against Barca (thanks to a late equaliser), and that because Inter Milan had also only got a draw in their game, Spurs had squeaked through, but only after an agonising wait for the Inter result caused by that game going on for a couple of minutes longer.

While all this drama was going on, I was oblivious to it, and was instead scratching about on the internet chasing that cricket game.

Which is still going on. Day 3 will be getting underway in a few hours, on Radio 5 live sports extra. My sleep is already deranged, in a way that usually only happens when England are playing in Australia.

Today, I did keep track of the Spurs Burnley game, which Spurs won (thanks to a very late winner). So: more drama. But although I was aware of this while it was happening, I was again scandalously relaxed about it all, despite this game being billed as a Spurs Must Win If They Are To Stay In With A Chance To Win The League sort of a game. Oh well, I was thinking, as it remained 0-0 right up until extra time. Oh well, that’s how it goes. Maybe next year, when they have their own stadium to play in.

Maybe the reason I am not shouting at Spurs in my kitchen, urging them on to glory, is that they are indeed engaged in building themselves a brand new custom built headquarters, in the form of that new White Hart Lane stadium. So according to my way of thinking, they shouldn’t now be doing this well.

However, it would seem that all the money that the new stadium will bring into the club has caused Spurs to do something now that they haven’t been doing for several decades, which is keep their best players. I’m talking about the likes of Kane, Deli Alli, Moura (who scored the late equaliser against Barca) and Eriksen (who got today’s very late winner). Such stars might still make more money if they went to Real Madrid or some such even richer club. But, at Real, they might not do as well on the pitch as they are now doing for Spurs. They might then fall off the football pyramid of greatness, never to climb back on it again. Footballers are interested in money and glory, not just in money, not least because glory turns into more money later, when they later try to get football jobs without being players any more. Spurs look like they could be about to do both money and glory rather well.

The same goes for the current rather-hard-to-spell Spurs manager who is masterminding all this. Many now assume that he will shortly move to Madrid. I’m not so sure.

I mean, if this is how well these Spurs guys can do while the new Spurs HQ is still being finished, think how well they might do when they get really settled in in the new place and are able to concentrate entirely on football.

Or maybe it’s that a new stadium is not really a new headquarters building, more like a huge new factory, for something like a brand new airplane. Boeing bets the company every time they launch a totally new aircraft. A football club bets itself whenever it moves into a new stadium. But this stadium is actually for doing football, rather than just a place to do lots of headquartering.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Blurring the face of the Big Prawn

In other face recognition news, the Sydney Morning Herald reports that the Big Prawn is having its face blurred out of photos on Google Maps.

The problem Google faced was that recognisable people with recognisable faces were showing up on Google Maps, owing to the accident of where they happened to be when the Google Maps photos happened to be taken. So, they introduced a face recognition programme with a difference. Every time a face was recognised to be a face, that face was blurred into unrecognisability in the final Google Maps photos.

And this also got done to the Big Prawn.

The Big Prawn is a giant sculpture, presumably an advert for a place where you can eat regular sized prawns. No, not according to Wikipedia. It’s just a big prawn.

In Australia, it would seem that Big Thing means something different to what I mean by this phrase.

A cow also got its face blurred over.

Confining Cats and Other Creatures postings to Friday is becoming difficult. These days, as on this day, I often don’t bother.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Ashes Lag strikes

I was surprised and distressed at how quickly and completely England lost the Ashes. They lost the first three tests and that was it. From then on, the important thing was for them to stop 3-0 turning into 5-0.

Why is that when we beat Australia, it ends something like 2-1 or 3-1 or 3-2, but never 5-0? But when Australia beats us, as often as not it is 5-0. So, good that this has not happened this time around. Dead rubber? Bollocks. 5-0 is a hell of a lot worse than 3-0 or (I can hope) 3-1.

Judging by previous 5-0s down under, England might still have lost game four, after Cook had scored his double hundred and given England a first innings lead of 160 odd. Australia have a very good spinner, and England do not.

Warne of Australia. Swann of England. Now: Lyon of Australia. A good spinner sustains pressure all the way through to the next new ball, and can win the match on the final day. Without a good spinner, you get those easy overs, when a bit of slogging can swing the match decisively in favour of the batting side, and you don’t get to win on the last day nearly so much.

In this latest Melbourne game, what if Australia had got themselves a lead of 150 and then bowled England out on the last afternoon? It could have happened. But luckily for England, it rained on day four, and England were able to save the game. All the commentators said that the rain spoiled England’s chance of a win, but what do they know? They were there, and were obviously getting caught up in it all, failing to see the wood for the trees. Trees: England might have won. Wood: England did not lose! Hurrah!

But from where I lie, in my bed but not sleeping because there were England doing so well on the radio, not losing, the important issue was: I wasn’t sleeping. And I am now suffering from serious Ashes Lag.

This afternoon, Chelsea thrashed Stoke at football, and according to the BBC Premier League update feed (which I had been keeping half an eye on), Stoke supporters, despite having journeyed to Chelsea all the way from darkest Stoke, were leaving after twenty minutes, because their team were such rubbish. I’m like that. If my team is getting hammered, I don’t want to be obsessing about that. I have a life, and I welcome the chance to ignore sport and get on with it. But if my team are doing okay, I’m all over it. So Ashes Lag has only now struck.

I mentioned yesterday that I was knackered, but too knackered to explain why I was knackered, and that I might (or might not) explain why I was knackered, later. The above was why I was knackered.

BMdotcom. The blog that promises nothing, but sometimes delivers!

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

“I’m calling you from Windows about your computer …”

I have been receiving several of these calls recently, from faraway Indian-sounding guys who all, coincidentally, have English-sounding names.

Once again, I am reminded that the internet is the internet, and that if I type some words into my computer, along the lines of “I’m calling you from Windows …”, I should get the story. And: I did.

That story was posted in 2012. As it says, this rubbish obviously works. Five years later, they’re still at it, with an identical script.

I’m somewhat ashamed to relate that it worked on me, the first time, a bit. I seriously considered the possibility of the call being real, until I worked out that it obviously wasn’t. Such shame spasms are important because they stop people talking about these scams and thereby reducing their chances of working.

In the early nineteenth century, sheep stealers were hanged, or so goes the legend. Rip-off phone calls like the above make me understand why this happened, insofar as it actually did. People talk, quite reasonably, about how people stole sheep because they were starving, but I’m guessing that having your sheep (singular or plural) stolen was a serious blow about which you (the victim) were ashamed, and that catching the bastards was very difficult even if you did tell other people. So, when, by chance, sheep stealers were caught, they were often or at least sometimes killed. I completely get it.

More often, however, they were (scroll down to the end) transported to Australia.

Once again, the internet tells the story. This is yet another way in which the experience of getting old (the first posting you’ll get, as of now, if you follow that link, will be this one) has been transformed. We oldies love to satisfy our curiosity about things that are none of our business and of no great interest to anyone, except us. Time was when discussions about pointless trivia could go on for ever in a fact-free fashion. Now, all you need is one small machine and the matter can be settled. Does the internet kill conversation? Discuss. Or, you could type this question into the internet and get a definitive answer, yes it does or no it doesn’t. End of conversation. Or not.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Views from Kings College

For reasons that I may or may not explain some other time (it involved this), I found myself, exactly one week ago today, at the toppish layer of Kings College, London.

There was some hanging about waiting for events to start and for lifts to arrive, and at such times I took (grabbed) photos, mostly through windows, out at London in its various manifestations, near and far:

Just as there is much aesthetically anarchic clutter at the tops of buildings, so too is there similar clutter around the backs of buildings, the bits where you are looking at the stage scenery, so to speak, from the other side.

As for the more orthodox view, of various Big London Things (bottom right), you may think, not much of a photo, technically speaking, and you would be right, but I like it nevertheless, in the sense that it is a technically rather average realisation of a very good shot, like so many of my photos. Also, I had only a few seconds to take/grab it, and only one go at it, because a lift was even then opening up and demanding my presence. I was with someone else, which always complicates the taking of photos, I find.

Note in particular the exact alignment of The Wheel with the New Tower (most recently featured here in one of these snaps (3.2)) that they are now finishing off, at Vauxhall, the one where there was all that crane drama. See also Big Ben and that other Parliament Tower (St Stephen’s), Battersea Power Station, Westminster Abbey, and even the tower with the crazy hairdo in the previous posting. What the green dome with the Union Jack flying on it is, I do not know.

Plus, who knew that there was a Menzies Centre for Australian Studies at Kings U? Well, probably Menzies, and the people who study Australia in it. But who else?

Shame it’s not Austrian, and economics.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog