Photos by Jim Turney of the Libertarian International World Convention of 1984

In 1984, I was one of many who helped organise a big Libertarian Conference at Royal Holloway College. US libertarian Jim Turney was one of those who attended, and he took these photos, which he has just emailed to me:

Left to right there: the late Chris R. Tame (who was the super-organiser of this gathering); me; Peter Breggin.

Left to right: John Hospers; me again; a guy who wrote and writes regularly for the IEA, and whom I know well but whose name is locked in a getting-old brain cave (anyone?); Nigel Ashford.

Left to right: Hospers again; me again; the guy I know well but … again; Ashford again; and a guy I genuinely do not know after all these years. Sorry if it turns out I should know him. Anyone?

Turney picked out the photos he had of this event with me in them, and there I am, the thin geek in the glasses. You can tell he’s a politician, can’t you? I can’t be the only person whom he has photoed during those long ago times when only Real Photographers had cameras and the half dozen digital cameras in existence all belonged to NASA. Think how precious such photos might be to some people, compared to photos photoed more recently.

I will now email Jim Turney back, thanking him for these remarkable photos, and asking if he has any more of this event, and in particular any more of Chris Tame.

I’m pretty sure that’s not the problem

I made my trip (see below) to Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, and the trip had the effect of making the state I was in, i.e. the reason I went, worse. Any posture is uncomfortable for me just now. Even just sitting in a moving bus is a bit of an ordeal. So the X-raying was no fun, especially when I had to lie down. They wanted my toes pointing inwards, for some reason, and that was, it turned out, particularly uncomfortable. But they were very nice and didn’t waste any time, and here I am back home.

But not in any state to post more than one quota photo, of a sign, in the cubicle where I went to get changed beforehand:

As of now it is unclear what is/are the cause/causes of my present bodily discontents. For more about that, I must await the X-ray results. But I think we can cross that one off the list.

This did make me worry that I was in a seriously wrong place, though. No matter how much they smother a big and busy place in signs, if you’re visiting it for the first time, you get things wrong. I still don’t know if I committed any violations of a woman’s right to a safe space. I encountered no angry women, so no harm seemed to have been done.

Life at the top of the slope

I am about to journey to the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, at the far end of the Fulham Road, to get two distinct sets of X-rays done. Chest, and hip. I have been coughing a lot. And I have pains in and around the arse, back, right leg, and nearby spots. It kind of moves around. “Pain in the arse” is now yet another of those hitherto innocuous phrases which have become filled with meaning in recent weeks. Not the actual orifice itself, you understand, just the bones – or is it the muscles? – in that general area. “Old fart” and “under the weather” are other common phrases that have both, for a while now, made a lot more sense than they did when I was younger.

I am at the top end of the slope, at the far end of which is: death. My body is just beginning seriously to disintegrate. Two years ago, I could stride about London for hour after hour, or babble away on the telephone without a care. Now, not so much. The majority of the efforts of the National Health Service seem to be devoted to looking after the likes of me, softening the blows of ever older age, and thereby prolonging it.

I am hoping that this first serious clutch of discomforts will be curable, or at least treatable after a fashion, to the point where I’ll be able to walk and talk more fluently than I do now. But I do not now assume this.

Big sport day

Two IPL games have been happening, both disappointing. That being twenty-overs-plays-twenty-overs cricket, in India. Both games started out with low scores by the teams batting first, followed by relaxed and successful chases by the opposition, and neither contained any English players for me to support. I don’t care which IPL teams do well. I just want the England guys to do well. Some are doing okay, like Stokes, Buttler and Archer, who are all, if I remember it right, playing for the same team. Many are not doing so well. Roy got dropped early. Bairstow seemed to be doing okay, but also got dropped. Blah blah. If you care about the IPL, you’ll know how to follow it. If you don’t care, you don’t need any links from me. (This applies to everything in this posting. So, no links. If you care, you know. If you don’t care, you probably aren’t even reading this.)

So, the Rugby. My over-riding feeling going into today’s games, the last of the 2020 6 Nations, was that the English commentators were being insufferably smug about how well England would do against Italy and how badly Italy would do against England. Well, it’s now half time in that game, and England are up by a mere ten points to five, with each side having scored one try. England have to score four tries to probably win the title, but have kicked away all their possession, as I just saw Clive Woodward complaining about also. When will these people ever learn? This is the Six Nations. Anything can happen.

One thing in particular made me suspect that Italy might do well, which is that they have finally got shot of that guy whose name now escapes me who has been their best player for the last two decades. Sergio Parisse, is it? When a bad team has a “great player” playing for them, there is a temptation for the other guys to ease off and let him do it for them. But once he goes, all the other guys look at the team sheet and say: My God, we’re going to have to do this ourselves. And they can end up playing better. In particular, Italy have what looks to be a great fly half, who pulled off a wonderful dummy pass to score against Ireland last week. He looks really good. To say it again: It’s the 6 Nations. You, famous ex-England player, you don’t know what’ll happen. I don’t know. Nobody knows.

Oh, I just tuned back into this England game, and it would seem that England have scored another try, and need just two more to serve their purposes. Which is quite probable. Presumably they got a bollocking at half time. And yes, that’s exactly what the commentators are now saying. Italy 5 England 17, with somewhat over half and hour to go.

The France Ireland game that happens later is predicted to be a high scoring high risk affair, with both teams seeking to get four tries and a chance to win this thing themselves. So, I now predict a low-scoring stalemate, in which they cancel each other out, and win the tournament for England despite England’s worst efforts.

Why am I in such a bad mood about these games, because I definitely am? It’s partly Lockdown, and partly the fake crowd noises that happened during the earlier Wales Scotland game. Who do they think they are fooling with such nonsense? (Wales lost, by the way, not because Scotland were that good, but because they were not very good.) At least this Italy England game is being accurately reported by the television, without any added-on “atmosphere”. But, that makes it hard to take very seriously, because that means there’s no atmosphere. You need to be able to suspend your disbelief about these contests really really mattering. The seats in the stadium are all empty, and the only people you can hear shouting are the players. It looks and sounds like a training game. It needs to feel and sound like an actual life-and-death battle, but does not, at all.

It doesn’t help any that I have been suffering from persistent “lower back” problems, caused partly by having been sitting for far too long on the wrong sort of chair. I am now trying a different chair, but it’s too soon to say if this will work. This, for me, could be it from now on. If I could trade England winning the 6 Nations for getting rid of this pain in the arse, I’d do that deal in a blink.

England have try number three. They need just one more, with half an hour left. Expert prediction: Doddle. Me: Let’s just see about that, shall we? Meanwhile, England, after a very poor first half, are nevertheless 5-24 up.

In soccer news. West Ham are now leading Liverpool by a goal to nil. Will they do to Liverpool what Aston Villa did to Liverpool, and beat them 7-2? Well, probably not. Liverpool have already equalised. There’s been much discussion about why so many goals are being scored in the Premier League all of a sudden. It has been suggested that, in the absence of spectators, defenders aren’t taking their duties as seriously as they would if there were spectators present to jeer at them when they cock it up. But I would like to suggest another explanation which is that attackers are, for this same reason, a bit more relaxed, and hence better able to score goals, instead of turning into terrified blocks of wood or bodies of jelly just when they need to be at their sharpest. With no spectators to put them off, they can score goals just like they do in training.

England have just scored try number four. So, all those damn experts were right, despite everything. Boring.

Final score: Italy 5 England 34. My understanding is that if Ireland win by more than seven, or if France win by a lot, either of them could win it. But honestly, I find that I don’t care enough to check if that’s right. I’ll just wait to be told.

Result: Liverpool 2 West Ham 1. Boring boring.

Maybe I built all this up too much beforehand, only to discover on the day that I had become an adult. Maybe that’s my problem. It seems unlikely, but I suppose it could be that.

Apparently Ireland have to win by seven or more, and score at least four tries. So England are now hot favourites for the Six Nations 2020. Hoo ray.

LATER: Biggest laugh of the day. They got it wrong, and I got it right the first time! Ireland just have to win by seven or more. No four tries. Just win by a bit. France have to win by a mile, so, go France. But don’t go too well.

EVEN LATER: Well France obliged, by winning, but not by enough. England are champions. It didn’t feel like anyone was, really. The way France took their tries against Ireland was what I’ll remember from today.

The greatest show on earth (but not always nice)

So, what creatures does SteveStuWill have for us today?

Mother bird refuses to abandon her eggs. || The amazing diversity of caterpillars. || Sarcasm alert: Nature is so delightful. || Some baby owls sleep face down. || Like humans, wild chimpanzees focus on fewer yet more meaningful friendships as they grow older – that’s me. || Things aren’t always what they seem – butterfly faking it. || This bizarre-looking creature is a long-wattled umbrellabird. || A hognose snake faking its own death. || Who hurt the little sea toad? || A great-backed gull swallowing a rabbit whole. || Cat’s tongue under a microscope. || Scary octopus. || Baby gorilla. || Feline civil disobedience.

Or, to sum it up, Evolution Is the Greatest Show on Earth.

LATER: This. Eat your heart out Peter Bonetti. Not one of SS-W’s, but worthy of being added to them.

LATER STILL: Albino squirrel, demonstrating white supremacy by the looks of it.

How old age and wisdom are connected

And I don’t necessarily mean that the former inevitably causes the latter.

A big connection is that for young people to be wiser, often all they need to do is slow down a bit. Look before they leap. Old people just slow down. We can’t help it. For us, instant leaping is less of an option.

Trouble is, for both young and old, slowing down can just mean being stupid more slowly.

If you want to appear wise, saying nothing for longish time periods can be very effective, even if you are merely musing on sports results or playing a favourite tune in your head. Or, you just can’t be bothered to say anything.

I think I may just have imparted some wisdom.

Jonathan the 188-year-old tortoise

Here:

He is the oldest known living terrestrial animal in the world.

And there was me thinking I was getting old.

He has his own Wikipedia page:

Jonathan (hatched c. 1832) is a Seychelles giant tortoise (Aldabrachelys gigantea hololissa), a subspecies of the Aldabra giant tortoise (Aldabrachelys gigantea), and the oldest known living terrestrial animal in the world. Jonathan resides on the island of Saint Helena, a British Overseas Territory in the South Atlantic Ocean.

The tweet I linked to above says “happy birthday” to Jonathan, but they don’t know exactly when he was born. He could be even older.

Progress and the personal touch

The two photos below, taken at Chateau Michael Jennings, remind me yet again how valuable personal face-to-face contact is in an age of radically progressing technology. The irony being that a lot of the technology that is now progressing most radically is all about making such personal face-to-face contact less necessary. But the more such technology progresses, the more valuable it is to be sitting right next to someone who knows how to get the best out of it, and can watch you failing to do that and can correct you. What’s that you say? Zoom? Two problems for me there. One, my regular C20 computer has no camera pointing at me. Plus, I tried to get Zoom going with just the sound, for a meeting, but the damn sound didn’t work. I’ll only get Zoom going when someone clever pops by and helps me do it.

These photos were taken somewhat over a year ago, when Michael was still regularly tweaking this blog, this posting being the one on the screens. They illustrate one of the improvements of this blog over the old blog, which is that (be warned) the old blog didn’t work nearly so well on mobiles or tablets. This one works much better on such modernistical contrivances:

Another friend is due round soon to help me with get the best out of my new Dyson Graven Image, before Winter arrives. I probably could get this working okay by reading the damn instructions. But, personal face-to-face guidance from someone who already knows will work far better.

It’s a Golden Age for Pretending Not to Notice Acquaintances on the Street

Here. The point is made with the headline and the picture at the top. No need to read it.

Personally I have now reached that golden age on a permanent basis.

Getting old but also getting better

About a fortnight ago now, I suddenly started feeling pains in my lower back and stomach. They kind of meandered around, but centred on a spot just above my right buttock. After a few days of this not getting any better, I rang my GP – well, my “Medical Centre” – and described my symptoms to a receptionist. She promised that a doctor would ring back around midday, and when a doctor duly rang back and I again described my symptoms, he said, can you come in and see me in half a hour? Bending down to pick things up was very painful, but standing upright and merely walking I could do. So, I walked over to the Medical Centre, and within a few hours of my first call, I got the verdict. (There are lots of complaints doing the rounds now about how the NHS has been bent out of shape by the Plague, but for me, when it came to the NHS at least paying attention to me and my discomforts rather than just telling me to come back in a couple of months time, it seemed to be working pretty well. Maybe it was the hint of a possible emergency about my symptoms that got their interest.)

So anyway, yes, the doctor duly examined me and bent my legs around and checked how it felt. Doctor stuff. And his verdict was: Nothing serious. Just a strained muscle. Me: How soon will it stop hurting? A week? Doctor: A bit more than that I’m afraid.

Basically what he was saying was: It’s nothing serious. You’ll get better soon. Not as soon as you would like, but soon.

For the next few days, the pain continued, and I put up with it as best I could and as I had to, learning new skills for moving myself up and down by the use of my still fully functioning arms. Getting out of bed and into an upright position when I got up in the morning was the trickiest and most painful manoeuvre. Anything which required my stomach to exert itself, like putting on trousers or shoes, was hurtful. Getting up out of a chair meant pushing myself up with my hands and arms. I adapted.

But then, right on time and as if hypnotised by the doctor, my body checked the calendar, noted that the ordained time of somewhat more than a week had now elapsed, and I started getting better. Yesterday was painful. Today, it was just a dull and diminishing ache. This afternoon, I went out shopping in Tottenham Court Road. I did things like sit down in a tube train, get up out of a seat in the tube train, walk briskly along Tottenham Court Road. No problems. The worst thing was that it was raining, and the few photos I took were rather gloomy and blurry. Also, the tube train back was too hot, which doesn’t go well with being a bit damp when you get into it.

The relief I felt at this moderate but definite improvement in my bodily circumstances was considerable. When you are young and you get an illness or injury, the only question is: When will it stop? That it will stop and that you’ll soon be back and firing on all cylinders is not in doubt. But when I started recovering today, I realised that I had been semi-fearing that … this was it. This, the pain I had gone to see the doctor about, was what living inside my body was going to feel like from now on. The only thing that would change this would be when things took another turn for the even worse. That is what, in a dull, getting old sort of way, I had been fearing. I wasn’t caste down into utter gloom. After all, you expect this sort of thing as you age, and so far in my life I’ve been very lucky with such things. But, I had feared that this episode would go far worse than it now seems to be going, that is, that having gone rather bad it would stay rather bad from then on, until such time as it got even worse. What if the doctor had been sparing me the worst about how it could all go? What if he was simply wrong? But it now seems that not only was his speed in seeing me very speedy; he also judged my condition accurately.

And the relief I’ve been feeling today, also in a dull, getting old sort of way, has been, as I say, considerable.