This Blog was fun while it lasted – but now it is approaching its end

First I got diagnosed with lung cancer, and that was bad. And then I started taking the pills, and that was good. The cancer got no worse, and I got better.

But now the side effects, if that’s what they are, are starting to pile up, the worst of these being a loss of appetite, and consequent loss of energy. So – to cut a long and medically very dreary and off-putting story short – the time has come for me to stop fretting at all about this little blog every day, and concentrate on writing stuff for Samizdata, of the sort that really matters to me, even if not necessarily mattering that much to anyone else.

I thought I’d be able to do daily stuff here, and go on making headway with the more serious stuff, but it hasn’t worked out that way, and something has to give. Basically I am now back staring death in the face, and there are still things I want to say of a Samizdata sort. Anything that gets in the way of that has to stop.

It’s not that everything here will necessarily stop, although it may well. I just don’t know. What I do know is that all of the limited energy that I have left has to be spent on saying what to me are big things, now. This Blog has been more about accumulating half-baked small thoughts, with a view to fully baked and bigger thoughts suggesting themselves to me in the fullness of time. But I now have no “fullness of time” that I can rely on. So, postings here will happen whenever they happen and when they’re no bother to do, which will not mean every day.

It was fun while it lasted. For me, and I hope for lots of you.

Sulphur-crested cockatoos’ ability to pry open bins has spread across 44 suburbs in only two years


Patrick and I talk sport

Yes, the latest recorded conversation between me and Patrick Crozier is up. It’s about sport. My pet theory, that the rise of professional sport and the ending (for now (fingers crossed)) of great wars between great powers are not coincidental events, gets another airing. I expanded because it sounded like Patrick was having his ear bent on this topic for the first time. I swear I’ve mentioned it before. Should also have mentioned a famous earlier peace episode, the Pax Romana, which gave rise to the custom-built sports arena in the first place, gladiators, etc. Forgot.

Our conversation happened just before the Euro2020 (that happened in 2021) semi-finals. Patrick doesn’t care to watch England games because England have disappointed him so often. I resist watching them because I can’t help getting sucked in and my nerves can’t take it, so I keep half an eye, rather than the usual two, on the game, while internet surfing.

Modernism plus vegetation

Now that I am reduced to scrabbling through my archives for photos to show here, Cousin David is helping to fill the gap. Recently he sent in some photos of cranes and new construction, in the City of London. By far my favourite, however, was of something I have not made a point of noticing, until now.

I have been banging on here about how Modernism is soon going to start being seriously jazzed up by being painted in all the colours anyone can imagine. But another way of brightening up Modernism, and in the short run a more popular way with the currently powerful architects, is to let plants thrive in it and on it. The effect is a bit similar to when a medieval castle or abbey finds itself getting the same treatment.

Modernism plus vegetation equals Modernist picturesque. The point being: Modernism is not now all that modern any more. Cover a concrete monstrosity with plants and you destroy, or at the very least strongly dilute, its brutalism. The contrast is between brutality on the march, and the brutality having been stopped in its tracks to the point where Mother Nature gets to clamber all over it. In these pictures you see Modernism shedding its modernity, and settling back in to be just another ye olde style.

This is already a definite architectural trend. Because of Greenery and all that, save the planet blah blah, this kind of thing is happening more and more. And, as this next of David’s photos shows, with new buildings as well as slightly antique ones:

That looks a lot more recent. Yet there’s grass all over the top of it. It’s got a way to go before it rivals the top photo, and it probably won’t do so any time soon because individual dwellers and their potted plants won’t be competing with one another the way they are in photo 1. But it shows you the way that architectural opinion, and practise, is already moving. This stuff will of course do bugger all to save the planet (because the planet does this sort of stuff for itself automatically), but the point is to signal that you’re doing that, while making places that look and feel prettier and more homely.

It took me no time at all, when I looked on Dezeen for illustrations of this trend, to encounter postings like this one.

Neptune appears on the south coast

Seen by me on Twitter:

I think it said that this was claimed to have been photoed this morning. Unfortunately I lost the tweet where I saw this and could not find it again, so do not know the provenance of this photo. I hate it when clickbait sites omit their sources for such things, and apologise for doing this myself.

But, good I think. I especially hope that 6k likes this photo.

As well as the face, I like the hand.

Perry de Havilland on those Covid demonstrations

Well, I managed to do a posting that I had merely hoped to do for Samizdata, about the Covid demo in London the weekend before last, linking back here to all the photos of it that I stuck up here.

Here. and there, I added some rather rambling verbiage about how I had mixed feelings about such demos. Do they work? What do they achieve? That kind of thing.

And I really liked Perry de Havilland’s comment on my Samizdata piece in response:

Demonstrations are much misunderstood; particularly ones like this (& this was a huge demonstration).

They are not going to change state policy directly because that just isn’t how things work, they are mostly about deisolating activists, they are about demonstrating to the demonstrators that they are not crazy (even if some of them are as is the case in any group of disparate people).

Demonstrations are a building process. Demonstrations in this case are particularly effective at highlighting assorted lies about this particular disease. After all, get hundreds of thousands unmasked unvaccinated people shouting for a few hours face to face, there is going to be an observable spike in deaths each time, right? Right? 🤣

Some demonstrations against the lockdown got hammered by the police earlier on … why? Because they were small enough to get hammered by the police to try and discourage other demonstrations. In this demonstration, the police were so vastly outnumbered, by a march that refused to even tell the police where it was going to march (by design), there was never any chance it could be stopped with truncheons. And the demonstration’s organisation was connected yet dispersed, utterly protean: a couple organisers were arrested before the march to try and derail it, and expecting that, others on various platforms seamlessly took over.

What THAT demonstrates to the marchers is that resistance is not futile, they are not alone. In fact, they are legion. It was an anti-lockdown march but it was also an anti-media march, giving lie to the idea that utterly dominating the media dominates public opinion (as if Brexit had not already proven the falsity of that in the internet age). How many times do crap opinion polls have to get it wrong for demonstrable things (such as election & referendum outcomes) for you to stop believing them when things are less demonstrable?

If you don’t ‘get it; then who cares; you are most likely not the target audience. But these marches are not a pointless hissy fit like some marches, these particular marches are literal in-your-face defiance of instructions by the state intending to protect you from “the inevitable consequences of a terrible disease spreading amongst crowds”. These marches are an absolute refusal to obey & a demonstration that the state relies on your willing even if grudging compliance, because there is a tipping point beyond which they do not have enough people with truncheons to force your compliance. That is what demonstrations like this are for & it is working just fine.

Perry and I have since talked further about this, and it is clear, from his and other comments, that libertarianism, as I merely speculated hopefully, really is spreading amongst those demonstrators. In general, says Perry, a lot of people are going to be radicalised by Covid, more precisely: by the response to Covid. This will take time, as the economic damage done by this response makes itself felt and as the facts start emerging in greater detail, both the scientific facts and the policy making facts. Of course, nothing like all of this radicalising will be in a libertarian direction, but a lot of it will.

And I had completely ignored the crucial point that this one was a demonstration in favour of the right to demonstrate, and in defiance of the claim that demonstrations would spread The Plague.

Perry and I also agreed that if it had been a real Plague – dead bodies in the street, double digit percentage deaths and so on – our attitude would have been very different. This is an argument about the mishandling of medical data, not just a libertarian “hissy fit”, to quote his phrase.

Although, I rather suspect that for many, “hissy fit” is simply a demonstration they don’t agree with. Which was why I mentioned those pro-Remain demos in what I wrote at Samizdata. I disagreed with those demos, yet they were clearly demos, and they clearly will have consequences, even if not those that the demonstrators will be fully satisfied with, of just the sort that Perry described.

Perry also mentioned how getting to know this lady had informed his thinking on these matters. He zeroed in on this sentiment, that I also mentioned in that earlier posting:

Being a dissident wasn’t about overthrowing the regime; it was merely about staying sane.

In other words demos say, if only to the demonstrators, but typically also to many sympathetic but timid onlookers: You are not the only ones thinking like this.

Sheep herding in Israel

Videoed from above by Lior Patel. Watch the sheep here. Or, watch them where I first did, at Mick Hartley’s blog.

Very social animals. Which is how one man and a dog are able to control vast numbers of them.

Sheep come in flocks, not herds. Yet, the verb is herd. We don’t flock them. Odd.

A Helter Skelter ghost sighting in Croydon

Yesterday I visited Croydon, and one of the more entertaining things I saw and photoed was this, of the frosted glass windows of the exit that rises slowly up from East Croydon station platform towards the main entrance:

Which is London’s most remarkable Big Thing? The Shard? The Gherkin? The Wheel? The BT Tower? The Walkie Talkie? The new and biggest one one still known only as 22 Bishopsgate? I hereby nominate: The Helter Skelter.

The two remarkable things about the Helter Skelter, a representation of which is to be seen in the above photo on the right, is, first, that it was never built, but, second, that the way it would have looked if it had been built still lingers. It certainly lingers here.

The expression “can’t wait” is overused, by people who can wait easily enough but who would rather they weren’t having to. But, those designers whose job it was at that particular moment in London’s history to plug London, by reproducing selections of its Big Things, actually could not wait until the Helter Skelter was finished before they started incorporating its presumed likeness into their designs.

“This video makes me feel like CRT is a cult …”

CRT, as referred to in this posting, and in this tweet, stands for Critical Race Theory. I say that because I very much like the idea that at least some of my readers here have no notion of what “CRT” stands for. After all I do not bang on here very much about such things, having other preoccupations nowadays, here anyway.

However, this snatch of video strikes me a truly remarkable:

(“CRT” also causes me to remember a libertarian collaborator from my earlier late twentieth century life, Christopher Ronald Tame. Chris would have detested what CRT means now.)

I doubt that “Cardinal Pritchard” is really a cardinal, and if he’s not then I don’t know what else he is besides a (Not The) Babylon Bee writer, but this is what the Cardinal says about this bit of video.

In all seriousness though, this is one of the strangest things I’ve seen in a while. And I’m willing to bet that only like four people in that entire group found the experience “a little weird.” Cuz it seems like most of them are super into it.

If this feels like a “cult”, then I say that, in the days of my youth when I was an unwilling participant in it, Church of England congregations sounded to me just like this also. I suppose a religion is a cult that has achieved social respectability, by stabilising into a part of the social furniture and by becoming less pushy and obnoxious, and people no longer want to complain about it by calling it a cult.

But cult, religion, whatever. This is very clearly a religion-like event.