Rioters and the ending of the Lockdown

Scott Adams:

Serious question: Did any Republican lose a business to rioters?

I began thinking of my answer, but the first tweet-in-response said it for me:

I bet some future Republicans did.

I’ve been suspecting for some time now that Antifa – or “Fa”, as I prefer to think of them – could be a project put together by Trumpsters to ensure his re-election. I mean, if they really were that, what would they be doing differently? (Take a gander at this bit of video, to see what I mean.)

On a more serious note, all these demos will speed up the process of discovering if ending Lockdown makes sense. I already think it does make sense. If, as I am now betting, no Coronoavirus spike now materialises among the demonstrating classes, others will likewise be convinced.

Meanwhile, a huge chunk of people are now behaving as if the only thing they’re scared of is dirty looks from other people. They aren’t scared of The Bug itself anymore. Lockdown is ending. You can feel it. You can see it, for real and on the news and social media. Two months ago, no matter who had done what, there’d have been no demos about it because almost everyone was truly scared of The Bug. Now, The Bug is right down there with car accidents and getting struck by lightning.

It’s almost as if no government action was required, either to make Lockdown start when that made sense, or now, to make it stop.

See also what Johnathan Pearce, has to say about these US rioters. JP links to all these videos, which I am now about to sample.


While searching the photo-archives for something else completely, I came across THIS!:

I photoed the above in the summer of 2016, in the Tate Modern gift shop.

Art galleries fascinate me, even though I often don’t like the Art that’s on show in them. And I am in particular fascinated by the gift shops that are now always attached to Art galleries. These places are often more crowded than where the Art is being shown. The above is only one of many, many photos, of Art stuff, that I have photoed in Art gallery gift shops.

In the case of this Roy Lichtenstein stuff, you can make a pretty good case for saying that those cushions, for instance, are as “authentic” Roy Lichtensteins as the “original” painting that the cushions were copied from. After all, the “original” painting was itself a copy, of something a lot like the cushions. And the original comic that Lichtenstein copied his painting from was mass produced, just like the cushions. Only the fetishism of the authentic unique object, by an officially recognised Artist, is holding back the dam of absurdity here.

I’m guessing that the business that Art galleries do in their gift shops, and in their equally vital coffee shops, is the difference between economic famine and something more like feast.

I also think that Art galleries are popular places to spend time in, again not because of the Art, but because of the quiet. Art galleries do not, on the whole, play annoying music, and talking in loud voices is considered boorish. The result is something a lot like a church.

Dogs Stuck To The Ceiling


Natalie Solent mentioned this strange phenomenon in a Samizdata piece entitled Solving the problem of dogs stuck to the ceiling. Natalie quoted a commenter saying, ironically of course, that this is a serious problem which We Should All Seriously Think About, and herself commented on that comment thus:

Although the writer did not try to make any political capital from this issue, it did lead me to wonder what other problems in modern society are conceptually similar to the plight of these dogs.

Natalie’s point being that some problems are only problems because you are looking at them the wrong way. In this case, the wrong way up. It’s quite a profound piece. She says that the “gig economy” is such a problem, and I agree. There are definitely problems associated with the gig economy, like people not paying for work by the date they promised they would. But just making the gig economy illegal would make everything far worse for the gigsters. There already is a law saying payments have to arrive when promised, but it is no use to the gigsters at the lower end of the gig economy. They’d rather do work that they do eventually get paid for, probably, and in the meantime not antagonise such a customer. Their solution is to get more and better customers, not to sue. One of my best friends (the one who photoed this bird, and also the ducklings in the previous posting just below this one) is a gigster. As was I a few years back.

Like I say. Quite profound stuff.

But I only paid Natalie’s piece proper attention after David Thompson had linked to it, while mentioning that he got it via Samizdata. In his Friday ephemera, he likes weirdnesses of all kinds, and likes libertarian messages also to be smuggled in in among the weirdness. So, this was all perfect for him.

Train chat – ugly and old versus pretty and new – double-decker trains in Britain

I get nostalgic about cars, even though cars have clearly improved quite a lot since my childhood. But the trains of my childhood, them I do not miss. The average train in Britain has, I think, got a lot prettier and nicer to use than the immediately-post-Beeching clunkers I used to travel in from Egham to Waterloo.

Recently, in connection with some forgettable muddle concerning some bad weather which had disrupted train services, I came upon a photo that illustrated this. Or I came upon another photo, and googled “azuma” (sounds like an on-line gambling den), and got to this photo, whichever:

My point being that that is a really sweet looking train, compared to the lumpish Southern Region trains I remember. Automatic doors have replaced doors which were like the doors of bank safes. Light materials have replaced heavy materials. There is elegant streamlining sculpture at the front. The carriage is one long single compartment, instead of divided into separate compartments, in which you could get stuck with a weirdo. (I realise now that I was often that weirdo.) That kind of thing. Just getting on and off these horrible old trains took about three minutes, compared to the about-one-minute process that happens now.

Well, more recently, on another random walk through The Internet, I came upon this amazingly angry blog posting, about double decker trains, which featured this amazing photo, of a British double-decker train:

Double decker trains are common on the Continent, but not here in Britain, and this angry blogger is not happy about this! But the reasons for their absence here seem to be more complicated than I had supposed. It’s not that there is simply no room for them under our bridges. It seems that they were tried (see above), but were not persisted with.

This intriguing graphic shows that actually, Britain could accommodate such trains, if it wanted to:

I did not know this.

Unlike this angry writer, of the angry blog post where I found these images, I am quite used to not understanding why something has happened that makes no sense to me, or in this case has not happened when it might make sense to me. No doubt those far closer to the action than me or than Angry Blogger have their reasons. Also, Angry Blogger doesn’t think like an economist or a man of business, but more like a Continental dirigiste. He wants double-decker trains! If those who should have arranged this, but who didn’t, chose not to because of various quite subtle trade-offs involving how many more people you can actually fit in a double-decker train (what with having to include the stairs), how much longer it might take for people to get on-and-off them, what sort of extra air conditioning might be needed, how much heavier and more structurally robust everything might have to be, blah blah blah, then as far as Angry Blogger is concerned, it is because they lack Vision! Not because they might have looked into it, and decided to spend their limited budgets in other more humdrum and more sensible ways. (I don’t know what Angry Blogger thinks about HS2. I suspect him of broadly favouring it, but of thinking that it’s being Done All Wrong!!!)

The other thing I like about the photo of the double-decker British train is that it illustrates all that old school clunkiness that used to afflict British trains of all kinds, way back then. Yes, I remember now. I think I got into all this double-decker train stuff simply because I was looking for a picture of a clunky old train, and came upon this clunky old double-decker train.

Dig deeper into the British double decker train issue, by becoming a follower of this Twitter group, to whom Angry Blogger (to whom deep thanks despite everything) links. Where it says:

Not followed by anyone you’re following.

It figures.

Meanwhile, it is clear to me that we in Britain have double-decker buses, unlike on the Continent, because, unlike them, we have Vision!

A national tree contrast

Two photographers-whom-I-follow do trees.

Martin Cook, in England:

That photo reminds me of this urban equivalent, although to be an exact rhyme, it would need a big bird in the middle.

Charlie Waite, in France:

Waite says, of his trees:

Any tree avenue is reminiscent of a cathedral nave …

Especially a tree avenue where the distances between trees and tree sizes have been so precisely contrived, and where failure to achieve identical size is just that: failure. If Wait hadn’t said that, the rest of us would still have thought it.

Anyway, my point is: I seem to recall quite often seeing effects similar to Waite’s, while being driven around France by GodDaughter2’s parents, over the years. I’m pretty sure I have photos in my archives to prove and illustrate that observation, although nothing as dramatic as Waite’s wonderful photo, a classic Real Photographer achievement, and surely the product of lots of preparation, exact timing, weather watching (daily and seasonal), and general photo-expertise. (Or maybe just high class opportunism. Whatever. I think it’s very good.)

In England, on the other hand, avenues seldom have this architectural precision about them, or not as often. Yes the trees are sometimes evenly spaced, and approximately the same size, but there isn’t the utter determination to keep them the exact same shape. Having planted them, the tree carers follow a set of rules about how to care for them, for instance by pollarding them, but the outcome is whatever it is. Variations on a theme, rather than bang: theme!

It is tempting to see this as an expression of the French delight in obedience to official rules, while the more anarchic English way is more expressive of English anarchy, and English resistance to official rules. A temptation I think I choose to give way to and indulge in. It seems improbable that there are any “practical” reasons for the difference, like the French trying to contrive a particular sort of timber, in the one best way.

I think each country is getting what it wants.

Ian Leslie seems to be learning from his mistakes

You get the feeling that a certain New Statesman piece, written in June 2016, must have had a rather big impact on the life and career of its author. Here is what the headline above it said:

Calm down. Trump won’t be President – and Britain won’t leave the EU

The piece under that was written by Ian Leslie.

Here are a couple more headlines, that can be read above two more recent pieces by Ian Leslie, also in the New Statesman.

December 2019:

Political scientists talk about low-information voters, but too much information causes problems too

March 2020:

Society rewards bluffers, but now is the time to admit we don’t know what we’re talking about

The reason this posting is here rather than at Samizdata, which is the group political blog that I have contributed to a lot in the past and continue to contribute to rather less frequently, is that although I have noted the existence of these articles, I have not read all of them. I did read the first one, quite a while ago, but I’ve not read the other two. Before sounding off about all this on Samizdata I need to actually read what Leslie said, and in the case of the top one, read it again.

Two thoughts about this, in the meantime.

First, if my blog postings were gone through, heading by heading, I’m pretty sure that you could have plenty of this sort of fun with them. A difference between prominent and more mainstream opinionators like Ian Lesie, and me, is not that he’s often badly wrong, but I never am. It’s that his wrongness is more public than mine. Also, he’s paid to make a judgement. If I want to hem and haw and hedge my bets and sprinkle my blog postings with question marks, no editor tells me I’m paid to get off the fence rather than remain seated upon it.

I was also very surprised when Brexit won (I talk about this ten minutes into this conversation with Patrick Crozier), and when Trump won (see this blog posting).

Second, it is by being wrong that we often learn. This is a tedious American cliche, with “learning experience” often just being the American for a balls-up. But it’s a cliche because it is said so often, and it is said so often because it is often true.

You certainly get the feeling that Ian Leslie has at least tried to learn from his very public double error of June 2016. I don’t recall the details very clearly, but I do distinctly recall that Leslie’s first piece actually said quite a lot about why Trump won and Brexit won. He identified, that is to say, some relevant variables – degree of economic discomfort and indifference to grander political principles are two that I recall noting. He just got wrong how people felt about how these things mattered, in connection with Trump and with Brexit. He wasn’t wrong because he asked the wrong questions. He merely answered some right questions wrongly. He was half way there, in other words.

So, next step: read the pieces themselves. Remember: The biggest lies in the media are told by those who concoct the headlines. These are often not just wrong, but often immediately proved wrong by what is right underneath them.

Strange creatures in Exhibition Road

Just over a year ago, in May of 2019, I was making my way from South Kensington Tube, up Exhibition Road past Imperial College, to the Royal College of Music, there to witness a performance which involved GodDaughter2. While making this journey, I encountered this strange creature:

I wonder what that was, I thought to myself from that moment on. Then, while rootling through the photo-archives, as I do, I encountered this taxi-with-advert photo, which seemed to feature the above creature:

Now I had some words to work with, so googling went from difficult to easy, and I began to learn about the One-Eyed Creature. He is one of the stars of a juvenile movie franchise, involving such things as One-Eyed Creatures, but also similar but Two-Eyed Creatures. Despicable Me. Also Despicable Me 2. At around that time, Despicable Me 3 was being plugged. Also there is a Bean Boozled connection, involving some sort of toy. Now that I know I could understand all this, I no longer feel any need actually to do this. How do I feel about having once cared? Despicable Me, that’s how.

I think a symptom of getting old is that you see more and more things that baffle you, and you don’t like the feeling. It’s not that we Oldies really do care about knowing trivia like this. What we care about is not knowing.

Soon after photoing this One-Eyed Creature, I photoed this couple:

I don’t feel quite so Despicable for being entertained by these two, but I still do somewhat. I found a few mentions of them on The Internet, in connection with Halloween. But this was May, so, no reason for them to be out and about in South Kensington. But then again, no reason for them not to be.

Feline Twitter dump

I earlier promised a creature-related Twitter dump. It turns out it’s pretty much all cats:

Another optical illusion that works on a nonhuman animal.

Can cats pass the mirror self-recognition test? This one did.

Why does this advert make it look like cats created a centre left political party in the early 2000s?

Screw your traffic, humans.

These next two tweets are also feline, because they’re Schrödinger’s Cat jokes:

Schrödinger’s Dumpster.

Schrödinger’s Plates.

Fed up with all the cattery? Then maybe you’ll approve of this:

A bit barbaric but my dog approves.

Still wanting something not cat related. Well, there’s always the Babylon Bee.

Tiananmen tank man – the small picture and the bigger picture

Someone calling himself hardmaru tweets, of this photo …:

… this:

The full Tiananmen Square tank man picture is much more powerful than the cropped one.

Not sure that’s right. You only get the point of this big picture if you already know the smaller picture. If you didn’t already know that, would the big picture pack such a punch? Maybe this is my bad eyesight asking, but would you even properly see the guy in front of all the tanks?

I don’t know when this big picture first started getting around. But, having seen the small picture many times, I have only now seen this big one. So thankyou
@hardmaru, and I’m glad that both can be seen.

A Twitter dump

For several months now, as alluded to tangentially already today, I have a ever heightening heap of, in particular, tweets piling up in my computer, which I have in mind to say clever things about, and which I do not in the meantime want to completely forget about. Pocket is great for articles with big headings at the top, but less good for tweets. So, here is a twitter dump, several of which are now way out of date, but still fun to remember.

This has made some impression on the pile. Not much, but some. So, in no particular order …:

Horrific find in local cafe. Destruction of great literature to create a bookish aesthetic. Shameful. Wasteful.

When God tries to punish your city for homosexuality but gays use their magic shield to protect it.

Two Concordes landing simultaneously.

I was glad to help you get home safely.

… you can be anything you want to be. You absolutely can not.

Inequality is the idea you can never be happy with a million dollars if the guy next door has a billion.

When I said Boris should get the unpopular stuff out of the way straight after the election, I meant unpopular with other people, not me.

“The United Kingdom is the last major European country where it is illegal to use e-scooters on public roads, bike paths, and pavements. This is despite surveys and usage indicating they are overwhelmingly popular where they are legal.” Time to fix that.

I see the potential for a whole new and compelling theory of modern political trends: ‘where does the bonkersness go?’ It could be called The Bonkers Dynamic, or Bonkerology.

Why did the Pilgrim Fathers leave for the New World? … They sailed because they felt themselves in a story.

Brexit Day +4: The grounded planes, the chaos in the streets, the unpaid workers, the crippling strikes, the faltering economy, the upper class buffoon in charge, the petrol bombs, the riot police, the snipers on rooftops, the tanks on the streets. But enough about France

I will not stand for baseless attacks and slander, unless they are directed at people I personally dislike.

A little excess fear is exactly what evolutionary principles would predict. The cost of us getting killed even once is higher than the cost of responding to a hundred false alarms.

However the #CoronavirusOutbreak plays out, pundits and commentators will craft a clean story for why whatever ends up happening was obvious all along.

From Dawah to damage control – All the workshops that used to be around trying to convert non-Muslims to Islam, are now trying to keep Muslims from leaving Islam and doubting religion.

When a team loses it looks unpopular, out of touch, and hence more likely to lose in future. It is the very act of winning that changes other people’s minds because they don’t want to be on the unpopular team, and winning shows that what you’re offering is what’s popular.