Dan Hannan in Australia

Two years ago, which explains the non-up-to-date political references to such things as Brexit, Dan Hannan did a talk in Australia. I found my way to this talk via the Hannan website, and watching this short interview of Hannan by Marc Sidwell (Sidwell is a friend of mine but I’d not clocked this interview until now), and then at the end of that being recommended to attend to this CIS hosted talk in Australia, done, as I say, a couple of years ago, which goes on for a lot longer:

Hannan didn’t talk about the then President Trump in his main speech (which lasts a bit under 40 minutes), but he did during the Q&A. And on the Trump matter, Hannan sat resolutely on the fence. He regarded Trump as “unfit for office”, because a liar about his fornication, his taxes, and just generally, and he welcomed the good liberalising things that Trump has done, but he denounced the public spending spree that Trump presided over and encouraged. He regards the kind of tribalism that is totally pro- or totally anti-Trump as the problem. Transcending tribalism being the whole secret of “western civilisation”.

I take the point about tribalism, but I wonder if Trump could have done his good stuff, both domestically and abroad, without all those character flaws of his. His boorish manner is all mixed up with the fact that he didn’t waste any time trying to suck up to his opponents, the way rival Republicans always tend to do in the vain search for their admiration. Trump was effective because “uncivilised”.

On the broader subject of “western civilisation”, Hannan can’t help attributing the success of what PJ O’Rourke called “that fine trend in human affairs” to his own Anglosphere tribe. The Anglosphere tribe is, he seems to be saying, the anti-tribal tribe.

And I think I agree.

The greatest ever sport weekend

Seriously, I can’t remember a weekend when there’s ever been more sport of the sort that I pay attention to. This particular weekend towards the beginning of February is usually pretty good, but this year it really has been remarkable.

It began with the second day of the India v England cricket test match, in the small hours of Saturday morning, and continued on Saturday morning with the final of the Big Bash in Australia. The Vince Sixers defeated the Livingstone Scorchers, teams which I thus name because all I care about in that tournament is how well the Brits do, and Vince did very well indeed. There was Premier League soccer to get excited about, which I do, a bit, both Saturday afternoon and evening and today afternoon and evening.

This was also the first weekend of the Six Nations, which is rugby union. Scotland beat England on Saturday, which was not nice, but this wasn’t because England were rubbish. It was because Scotland were not rubbish, and England were caught by surprise. Scotland being not rubbish made a nice change from the last twenty years or so of Scotland vying with Italy for bottom spot. All the Six Nations needs now is for Italy also to become a serious threat, and this tournament could enter a golden age of total unpredictability. But first up on Saturday, Italy were smashed again, by France. So that doesn’t seem like it’ll be happening any time soon.

Sunday morning. Day three of the India v England test match. England, having batted big, manage to get six Indian wickets. Afternoon, another six Nations, Wales beating Ireland. Soccer, with Spurs winning. Harry Kane back with Spurs and Spurs were accordingly back winning a game, which was nice. Then Man City thrashed Liverpool, and are now favourites, insofar as such a thing can exist in this anyone-can-beat-anyone season. Man City have an England guy called Foden, who everyone says is going to be really good. His goal at the end against Liverpool was quite something.

And now, late on Sunday evening and into Monday morning, it’s only the Super Bowl. Number 55, or Super Bowl LV as nobody says. Live on British TV. I’m watching the beginning of that now. Brady beating Mahomes 2-0 in touchdowns so far.

And then when that’s done, it’ll be straight back to the cricket out in India, also live on British TV. Day 4. Because the BBC is not being allowed to even commentate, let alone show video, of the cricket in India, they are pretty much ignoring it other than at their website, and are instead trying to get excited about tennis. There is apparently a big tennis tournament, going on somewhere on the planet, but I do not know or care where. All of which means that if I want to know how England are doing in that game, I have to get up and watch TV. Which I can do. Piece of piss, and of course it makes sense to combine it with that.

Which is a lot of sport. No wonder, this weekend, I have accomplished nothing. When I was middle aged, wondered if I’d still be paying attention to, and more to the point caring about, sport, when I got old. Turns out I still do. Especially the cricket and the rugby.

I hope you don’t mind the absence of links in this. My thinking is: If you care about any of these contests, you’ll already be linked into them. If you don’t care, then any link to whatever it is you don’t care about won’t add anything to your life.

Scientists solve the mystery of why wombats have cube-shaped poo

Here:

How wombats produce their cube-shape poo has long been a biological puzzle but now an international study has provided the answer to this unusual natural phenomenon.

The cube shape is formed within the intestines – not at the point of exit, as previously thought …

Good to know.

On cricket and sleep

Last night India beat Australia, in Australia, and I listened to it on the radio. That is to say, I listened to a lot of it.

But, I didn’t listen to all of it. I know I didn’t listen to all of it because there were big jumps in the score. Shubman Gill went from being about fifty not out, to having been out quite a while ago for nearly a hundred. Pant did another huge jump and a couple of Indian wickets fell, in a similar memory-hole fashion, later in the “day”.

This is not a posting trying to make you like cricket. But, one very interesting feature of cricket is how statistically detailed the unfolding of the story is, and always has been. Football can go from 1-0 with an early goal, to 1-0 with no further goals, to 1-0 as in the early scoring team wins it. You could be listening to the radio commentary and nod off a bit, and not even really be sure that you had nodded off.

But cricket scoring never stops dead like that. Runs are continuously scored, wickets keep falling. Miss out on an hour of that, and you immediately realise that you missed a huge chunk.

So it is that I absolutely know for sure that I didn’t listen to all of the India v Australia cricket last night. I listened to India making a solid start, in their chase for over three hundred in the day. I definitely caught the end, when India won it. But for big bits in between, I was … asleep.

With sleep, the difference between a bit and none can be all the difference. For cricket lag, the cricket version of jet lag, to set in thoroughly, you need to be wide awake exactly when you shouldn’t be. In my recent experience, a bursting bladder, by requiring you to be physically active, is surer way to doing that then merely dozing in a bed, listening to cricket in foreign parts, parts of it.

Will I get a good night’s sleep tonight? At the regular time? Because of the above, I do not rule out the possibility.

A 1950s YouTube video about cricket

Still gummed-up. Just too many things open, I assume.

One particular gummer-upper is leaving YouTube Videos open and paused.

Like this short bit of film (a bit over a quarter of an hour long) done in 1950 by the British Council about cricket and its magically universal, quasi-religious appeal. GodDaughter2’s Dad sent me the link to this many weeks ago, and I started watching, cringed a bit, but then, still determined to force myself to watch it all, in all its post-WW2, pre-Sixties non-glory, I kept the thing paused and open, until now.

In 1950 everyone English loved cricket, and assembled in suits at Lord’s to watch or, if they were a member of the miserable majority for whom that was impossible, no matter. All civilised or would-be civilised people, everywhere on earth, could listen to the cricket on the radio, thanks to John Arlott and his posh colleagues. Arlott himself spoke a bit un-posh, which meant that everyone could love cricket. Although of course, you were, then, ideally English-posh, you didn’t have to be English-posh. You merely had to aspire to that happy state, and who on earth, in 1950, did not do that? Then? Nobody. Look, even people in turbans could play or attend to cricket, no matter what their colour or their creed, or how amusingly and wrongly they spoke English, i.e. in the opposite way to the way other-narrator (besides Arlott) Ralph Richardson spoke English. You could be an Or-stralian, non-posh, even non-white and non-Christian and talk English like a music hall joke character covered in black make-up, and still be part of cricket. Cricket was ultra-inclusive.

There follow a string of comments to the effect that the world is crap now compared to what it was in the 1950s. (I dissent. For starters, I can now have a blog. Nobody could have a blog in 1950. Also, I enjoy T20 cricket as well as the day-after-day-after-day version of cricket which was all they had back in 1950.)

It all makes a fascinating contrast to the equivalent efforts now being made to make cricket really, properly inclusive, in the form of pieces of writings like this, by ESPN’s Daniel Brettig, about all the micro-aggressions that non-white cricket people still have to put up with these days, but really, really should not have to.

India all out 36

Says Michael J, WFF? My sentiments exactly.

What I’m finding interesting is how so many closer observers than I of this drama are saying that it wasn’t bad batting, so much as (like this guy says) great bowling in perfect conditions for exactly such bowling.

Too bad Geoff Boycott seems to be past his commentating sell-by. I’d love to have heard what he thought about this Indian collapse. In the above linked-to piece, Sidharth Monga says that this collapse was like when Broad bowled Australia out for 60 at Trent Bridge, back when that happened. But Boycott then had lots to say about how the Australian batting was technically all wrong. Basically, as I recall, it was pushing the bat forward too firmly instead of holding back and playing more wristily and gently. Maybe he’d have noticed something technical that the Indian batsmen just did wrong.

Wooden maps of the world’s cities

So I did a rootle through the latest stuff at This Is Why I’m Broke, and came upon these rather classy looking carved wooden maps of cities:

The one on the left is London, and sadly, nobody told them that London has been doing a lot of expanding lately, in general, and in particular out eastwards. I’d have preferred wider coverage, including such things as the Thames Barrier. Not that it matters to me, because CDs and books mean I have no wall space at all for such things.

The one on the right is Brisbane. I include this map because the river that runs through Brisbane and which presumably provoked that city’s creation, is positively Parisian in its convolutedness. Apparently, this Brisbane river is called the Brisbane River. I did not know any of this.

Covid-19 is all over bar the “Casedemic”!

I got to this ten minute video lecture by Ivor Cummins via a Facebook posting by David Ramsay Steele. Steele had earlier written a piece which I half noticed a few days ago, as a result of someone mentioning it on my Twitter feed and me happening to be paying attention to Twitter at that moment. I have just now got back to that piece by Steele.

Steele argues that respiratory epidemics like Covid-19 cannot be stopped, and probably not even slowed much in their spread. The point is to get herd immunity (which Cummins calls, rather poetically, “community immunity”), and meanwhile to protect the vulnerable as best we can. (I seem to recall this being argued right at the beginning of all this, in Britain.)

Steele also links to and agrees with this blog posting by J.B.Handley.

Me going into further details is pointless. Follow the above links if you are interested.

I believe that the way to find out the truth about anything is to have a huge argument about it. Roughly speaking, the truth consists of a “model” which most closely describes reality. Eventually, the most accurate model wins. Not all “models” are wrong. But most models are wrong.

If I had to place a bet on which Covid-19 model will win, that is to say: be acknowledged more widely than any other model as the truth of things, then I would now bet on this Cummins/Handley/Steele model.

There is just one detail of this argument I will pick out. Trump and Trumpists have been saying that if the Chinese government had told everyone faster then the worldwide spread of Covid-19 could, perhaps or even definitely, have been confined to China. This is, says Steele, “hogwash”. I mention this merely because I have been a Trumpist about this, but will now have to find some other way to denounce the Chinese government for its handling of matters Covidic. Shouldn’t be hard.

LATER: Following.

A favourite posting featuring Dame Edna

As already reported, those who now dip into the Old Blog are no longer greeted with the Screen of the Red Death. But Google still says it’s “not secure”, and the whole point of this New Blog is it works far better, no matter what kind of hardware you are using. So, I’m still transferring stuff from the Old Blog to here, whenever the mood takes me.

Yesterday I transferred a particularly favourite posting, from way back in 2007, which featured a photo by me of a celebrity whom I encountered in Piccadilly Circus:

There is also, in this old posting, a photo of men wearing mankinis. Being photoed by others besides me, naturally.

All this happened on the one afternoon.