Salisbury Cathedral behind sheep

Another notable James Cook photo of his local and favourite cathedral:

It’s nice how the sheep are mostly looking, vaguely curious but in no way troubled, at the camera.

And note how, in the summer, with all those leaves, the tree in the middle would spoil everything.

Why Democrat electoral cheating is no longer okay

To start with, a pre-emptive grovel. I am not a fully fit person just now. I can just about manage photoing photos and posting photos. I can even manage stating my opinions. What I shrink from doing, in my present state of seemingly permanent lethargy, coughing-ness and achiness, is embarking on any sort of argument to the effect that my opinions are correct, with someone who does not share them. You’ll either take these opinions of mine, or leave them. I am now only up to stating what they are.

And when it comes to the rows and ruckuses now happening in the USA about how Donald Trump should turn over a new leaf, become “presidential”, and now let Joe Biden become the next president, I have two opinions, which I will now state.

First, it is my understanding that the scale of cheating by the Democrats this time around was something else again. I won’t persuade you if you don’t agree, and I think I am open to the idea that the gap between where Biden is said to stand now and where Trump has to stand to remain President is just too great for a few legal judgements to make any difference. I just watched Megyn Kelly, whose attitude on things generally seems to resemble mine, say exactly this, and I didn’t blow any gaskets. But for whatever it may be worth, I found this, and this from the BBC, rather persuasive, and in the case of the BBC piece, highly relevant.

The Democrats hate Trump, but last time around they were caught by surprise. This jerk? He’s won this? They just were not prepared for that outcome. That’s why they didn’t cheat much last time around. They hadn’t thought they’d need to.

This time they were ready. They hate Trump just as much as ever, but this time around they grasped that, hateful down-market nincompoop embarrassment though Trump definitely is, he is also, for whatever clutch of mysterious and deplorable reasons, a formidable foe. And they were ready. But they weren’t quite ready enough. The scale of Trump’s achievement shocked them again, and this time around their cheating is, as Americans like to say, off the scale.

My opinion. You have a different opinion? Fine by me. I get it. If you do not share my admiration for Trump, fine by me again.

But here’s another opinion, which it seems to me is a bit less generic, a bit less predictably Trumpist. Because something else has changed.

Democrat electoral cheating is not a new story. I’ve been reading stuff about America and American politics all my life, off and on and mostly off, and like a thread through it all is the fact that in big cities that they run and are determined to go on running, Democrats cheat in elections. So Democrats cheating in elections this time around is not the big change.

The big change is a Republican refusing to retreat in the face of it. Why? Why is Trump being so unpresidential, so undignified, so … just so ghastly? The answer is that the big political picture has been transformed, partly by him, but partly by him responding to the fact that it has already changed so much.

Time was when Republicans were the party of the Lucky Winners. Country clubbers, corporate executives, yacht owners, owners of houses with several garages, presided over by perfectly manicured wives, in charge of several well behaved children and subservient servants. The Democrats, meanwhile, were the party of the workers, of people struggling to do work or even to get work. Any plutocrats who were attached to the Democrats, like the Kennedys or (FD) Roosevelt, were numerically insignificant oddities. (Whether that was true, I don’t know. But this was the dominant narrative, as people say now.)

But that’s all changed. The Democrats are now the party of the Lucky Winners, and also of the unlucky losers at the very bottom of the heap who can only now depend on the crumbs of comfort bestowed upon them by the Lucky Winner class. The Republicans have become the party of the workers in the middle, the middle class, as Americans accurately describe them. The Republicans are the party of the people who still struggle to work and to stay working, and who hate the whole idea of giving up and becoming dependant upon the Lucky Winners.

Not all “workers” voted for Trump. A lot of workers, especially in things like IT, are still solidly Democrat. But the heart of the Trump vote was workers of a certain sort. The heart of the Trump vote was no longer the Lucky Winners class. They have migrated over to the Democrats.

Okay, now for the key bit of what I’m saying.

In olden times, if you were a member of the Lucky Winners class, and your guy lost an election, complaining about cheating was frankly a bit, well, undignified. You and your pals controlled almost all the leavers of power in society. You owned the big corporations. Your children were creaming off most of the expensive education. The world was yours. Were you going to bitch about electoral corner-cutting by a few machine politician Democrats in big cities who had enough clout to say boo to you, every once in a while? This was not a good look. And on the whole, Republicans took their defeats, and if Democrat cheating cost them a win or two, well, that was how it crumbled, cookie-wise. Legally, that may not have been the rule, but actually, that was the rule. Noblesse oblige. Let the people picked by the struggling class have their turn. Suck it up. Go play golf.

But now? Now, what is happening is that the Lucky Winners class is telling the class definitely below it in the pecking order that this subordinate class now has to just lie back and let it happen, when the electoral cheating happens all over them.

This is not a good look either, but it’s what the Lucky Winner class now think they can do, and get away with. Maybe they can, in the sense that they may well get their guy over the line this time around. But if they do, but if it then becomes clear that they did this by cheating on a large scale in this election, then the words “reap” and “whirlwind” spring to mind.

Meanwhile, Trumpists do not now give a fuck about Trump being “dignified” or “presidential”. They voted for him because he was none of those things. Yes, he was born into the Lucky Winners class, but now he’s their Lucky Winner. And they now want him to insist on the principle that cheating in political elections is wrong, dammit! And it is especially wrong when it’s done by the very class of people that has spent the last four years declaring itself to be in every way superior to them – richer, better, better looking, cleverer, wiser, more tasteful, more cultured, more intellectually nuanced, less racist, less “deplorable”, you name it. And if those smarmy bastard liars on the television don’t like this, they can just shove it up their Lucky Winner arses.

I trust that the undignified nature of my language in the previous paragraph is getting my point across. Which is that the argument that those now on the receiving end of Democrat cheating should just roll over in the face of it is now out of date, big time.

Cheating is okay – not good, not completely okay, not dignified – when it is done by life’s strugglers to life’s Lucky Winners. But when the Lucky Winners do it to the strugglers, that’s a whole different ball game, and a game that the Lucky Winners will and will thoroughly deserve to lose. And whether you personally agree with that or not, the particular strugglers on the receiving end of this particular bit of cheating damn well do agree.

That’s what’s changed, and it’s a very big change indeed.

Like I say. My opinions. Take them. Or leave them. And comment all you like. Just don’t assume I’ll have the energy to respond to any responses that this gets.

Westminster Abbey – modified and unmodified

Again with the photos from last Wednesday, this time photoed soon after I had photoed The Broadway, and its coffins.

Proceed down Victoria Street from there, and you go past this place. If you are me, you notice:

This is one of those government departments which keeps having its name changed. That’s what it’s called for the time being. Not that I, or you, care very much. I’m just saying so you know what I’m talking about. “1VS” presumably means 1 Victoria Street.

Anyway, this Department of … whatever, has a fantastically over-elaborate glass and steel front entrance. There are two good things, along with all the obvious sneering, to be said about this front entrance. One, unlike with Big Lumps of the Concrete Monstrosity era of what you might call classic Modernism (which is pretty much what the rest of this building is), you can at least tell where the damn front entrance is. An elaborate front entrance is at least better than an infuriating guessing game.

And second, through the fantastically over-elaborate glass and steel roof of this entrance, you can photo photos like this, of Westminster Abbey:

This is a fine example of a modified cliché photo, which is a favourite sort of photo of mine. Cliché: Westminster Abbey, photoed millions of times. Modified: by being photoed through this roof, not photoed that way more than about a thousand times.

But, here’s a thought. What if you live in some terrible backwater like New York or San Francisco or Shanghai, and although there are lots of photos of Westminster Abbey that you could look at, you are so preoccupied with the details of your humdrum life that you seldom give them your attention. For the benefit of all such unfortunates, here is the unmodified cliché photo of Westminster Abbey that I photoed a little bit later:

God does not exist, but He still manages to occupy some of the best buildings.

Canaletto – and now

Came across this picture of St Paul’s by Canaletto, with boats, done in the 1740s:

I tried to find a bigger version. I failed, but did encounter this, from the Daily Express of June 4th 2012:

WITH its spectacular pomp and ceremony, yesterday’s river pageant evoked the alluring images in Canaletto’s painting The Thames on Lord Mayor’s Day which depicted a royal flotilla against a backdrop of the City and St Paul’s Cathedral more than 250 years ago.

That “backdrop” is not what it was. St Paul’s is still St Paul’s, but what’s in front of it has taken rather a turn for the worse.

I’ve surely photoed photos of that scene, although not with that many boats. I recall getting interested in the Faraday Building, the one with the green roof in the photo above, which was the first big architectural violation of that St Paul’s view.

In the Canaletto, notice all the spires there, of other places of worship, most of them also designed by Wren.

The Babylon Bee joins Twitter and Facebook in seeking to suppress claims that Hunter Biden is not entirely honest

Yes, my favourite insect has for many weeks been a bee, the Babylon Bee. But now, the Bee is telling me this:

Since you did not click on that article, you were not horrified by all the alleged revelations about H. Biden. So your life is much better for not reading the completely false story. We are glad you did not read it and share it with others. Because you are a good, upstanding citizen and would not share false smears about someone. Good job!

Until now, I had been supposing Hunter Biden, the son of candidate Joe Biden in an election they’re having over there, to be a corrupt scumbag of the scummiest and baggiest sort. But now that the Babylon Bee has come out alongside Twitter and Facebook in defence of Hunter Biden, I realise that I may have to revise my opinion of this handsome and vigorously entrepreneurial young man. Have I been thoughtlessly misjudging him? Who am I to doubt the Bee?

But, I don’t know, somehow, being told not to click on that article, even by such a respected insect as the Babylon Bee, well, that just doesn’t sit right with me. Who are the Babylonian Bee people to be telling me what I can and can’t read? So, here I am doing this posting in exactly the way they wouldn’t want me to, and including the link to the article, which I personally think that maybe you should read, because, well, as of now, I’m keeping an open mind on this Hunter Biden issue.

The Babylon Bee is run and written by hardcore, fundamentalist Christian extremists, the sort of Christians who actually believe in a lot of that Christian stuff. I, on the other hand, am a moderate middle-of-the-road atheist, who knows that all Gods are made-up hobgoblins, apart from the ones in Wagner operas. I always thought this might in due course lead to a political parting of the ways between the Beeites and me. Maybe this is that parting.

LATER: I take the Babylon Bee seriously, and I am delighted to report that I appear to be in good company.

Frank J. Fleming on how to do fake news

Frank J. Fleming muses on his new job as a social media adviser to Amy Coney Barrett:

This partisan divide is why it’s hard to trick all the people all the time with fake news. I dream of a day when this nation is less divided and I can constantly fool everyone.

Barrett, recently nominated by President Trump for the Supreme Court, is now being fiercely attacked on Twitter, but is too nice to know what to say in reply. She needs help. I wish Fleming every success in his new role.

A crazy sports day

I don’t usually set the video to record MOTD, or for that matter MOTD2, but I’ll have to this evening. First it was Leicester, unbeaten until today, who were today beaten 0-3 at home by West Ham, but okay that’s a reasonably normal scoreline. However, ManU 1 Spurs 6 is not reasonable, but that was the result of that one. Nor is Aston Villa 5 Liverpool 2, which is the score in that after an hour. Whatever else happens in that game, which I would still not put it past Liverpool to win, the score will definitely be crazy.

Now it’s Villa 6, Liverpool 2. First time ever both Liverpool and Man Utd have conceded six goals on the same day. (I copied and pasted that from the BBC report of the Villa Liverpool game.)

And, in freezing October, the county cricket T20 finals finally got under way this afternoon, after being totally washed out yesterday. Surrey won their semi and made 127 in 16 overs against Notts, which doesn’t seem like nearly enough, so boo hoo there, probably.

However, more interestingly for the kind of folks who read this blog, because of the dates that these T20 quarter finals and finals were played (October 1st and October 4th), these T20 games … :

… were the first professional cricket matches played in England in October since 1864 – Cambridgeshire & Yorkshire v Kent & Nottinghamshire at Newmarket, October 6th to 8th.

They postponed these T20 games until now so that, maybe, actual people could come and watch, which could and should have been allowed by now but of course wasn’t.

OMG, more copying and pasting:

GOAL – Aston Villa 7 (SEVEN)-2 Liverpool

Like I said, crazy.

I recall speculating here that there having been no sport in the early version of Lockdown caused a lot of unfocussed energy to insert itself instead into political demonstrating. Notice how, since sport has resumed, even sport in deserted stadiums, the demonstrating just fizzled out. If I didn’t speculate thus, I should have.

Yes, I did a posting in July about Der Bomber, a German footballer called Gerd Muller, and I ended it thus:

The passions that used to attach themselves to bombing now have to find another outlet, and that outlet is now, mostly, sport. I believe that in recent months we have experienced what a gap is left in our world when sport is lacking. The sooner our politicians feel able to allow people back into sports stadiums, there to cheer on their preferred “bombers”, the better.

It turned out that to take their minds off being violent in the streets, people didn’t have to actually attend sporting events. There merely had to be sporting events, the results of which people cared about. This was enough to fill the sport-shaped holes in their souls.

LATER: boo hoo.

Another remarkable Trump speech

Here.

I don’t agree that Trump is defeating The Virus, as he claims. I think it is fizzling out of its own accord. I therefore think that he overdoes the criticism of China, on this particular score. But otherwise, amazing.

I was particularly interested in the bit near the end, where he said:

As President I am proudly putting America first, just as you should be putting your countries first. That’s okay, That’s what you should be doing.

This is something people have always got wrong about Trump. He does admire people like Putin. But this is not because he is a Putin agent of influence, as some anti-Trumpists have absurdly claimed. It is because he admires Putin for fighting Russia’s corner. But Trump isn’t fighting Russia’s corner. He’s fighting America’s corner.

The manner of the speech’s delivery was also interesting. He just read it out, with no gaps during which anyone might try to heckle. He didn’t seek rapport with his audience, like at one of his rallies. There was a distinct undercurrent of “I don’t give a fuck what you evil bastards think about this, and I’m taking no questions, I’m just telling you how it now is” about the whole thing. I’ve been waiting all my life for an American President willing to talk in this manner to the assembly of (mostly) pompous and tyrannical scumbags that is the “United Nations”. It’s a different world, I tell you. As Patrick Crozier and I talked about in this conversation, Trump is conferring respect upon millions of Americans who have been denied it by their self-appointed betters. Crucially, he is also withdrawing respect from the over-respected “global elite”, and never more so than in this speech. And his voters will be loving it.

Roll on the thermonuclear landslide.

A model of London Bridge that is hard to photo

One of the more frustrating of the photo-expeditions I have done in the last few years was one to the Church of St Magnus the Martyr.

I was there, around a year ago. to photo a model of Old London Bridge, which I had found out about in some way that I now forget. And the model was there. That wasn’t the frustration. What was the frustration was that photographically, this model pretty much defeated me. Although clearly visible and clearly identifiable for what it was, it was protected by the photographic equivalent of armour plating, in the form of a very shiny glass box.

I still took lots of photos, and from the selection of those that I now show you, you do get some idea of what sort of model this is and how it looks in its ecclesiastical surroundings:

The less these photos are about the details of the model and the more they are about the model as a whole and its surroundings, the better they are, and I biased my choice of what to post here I had in that direction. So they are worth a click through, if London’s eccentricities and oddities are of interest to you.

I image-googled this model, and the results were not as disappointing as my own efforts but still rather disappointing. This model has been there since 1987, but at no time, then or since, has anyone taken any really classy photos of it, or not any that the internet seems to be have been told about. (If commenters can prove me wrong, I’d be be very happy.)

There are some photos of this model, which are definitely better ones than mine from the point of view of showing the details of the Thing, here. But even that photoer struggled, I think. As did this guy.

It would be nice if this church were to pick itself a Real Photographer, and let him have a go at this Thing, with Real Photographer type lighting, with the glass temporarily removed, and maybe with some specially supplied backgrounds to screen out the church clutter, and also all the uneven light that crashes into the church through its church windows. Maybe let the RP take the whole Thing to a studio of some sort.

That would be nice for the likes of me. But maybe the people running this church already rather resent the number of godless tourists of my sort who already come tramping into their House of God to gawp at and and to photo this bridge model, and who then tramp out again, ever to be seen again unless they want more photos of the model. And the last thing they want is to encourage a whole new flood of such people. If my guess is right, I can’t say I blame them, but it is just a guess and I could be quite wrong.

I could find no reference to this London Bridge model at the church’s own website, but again, that could merely be because I am terrible at searching websites.

There is another picture of this church in an earlier posting I did here about the Monument, showing how near that edifice is to this church.

“I love it when Dawkins admitted that!”

I recently watched this duet rant by David Wood and, when he can get a word in, Robert Spencer. David Wood, a new name to me, is a Christian, but not the sort of Christian who believes in turning the other cheek when his enemy threatens to slap him hard enough to cause serious harm. That doesn’t work. (That this doesn’t work is one of the many reasons I’m not a Christian at all.) But Wood makes many excellent tactical points about what you are up against when you interact with seriously Islamic Islamicists.

From that, I then found my way to this snatch of video. In the latter, a bunch of scornful Christians introduce a clip of Richard Dawkins talking about whether there is any evidence he can imagine that would convince him that God exists. Dawkins says he used to say: Yes. If evidence appeared, he’d change his mind and believe in God. But then, he was persuaded that he actually cannot imagine any evidence that would persuade him of God’s existence.

As I say, the Christians are scornful. This guy freely admits that there is no evidence that would change his mind about God!

Dawkins’s position is precisely my own position. I was once challenged along the same lines. If evidence appeared for God’s existence, would I start believing in God? I said: Yes. But then, I realised that I could imagine no such “evidence” that it would not make more sense to interpret in a non-God way. An hallucination, or a trick. Or maybe an alien who seemed to me like God, but who was merely clever at creating misleading effects, perhaps based on knowing more than humans do about how the human body and mind function, by getting inside the workings of my brain.

The reason I think this way is that the idea of God, as presented to me by Christians and Muslims, makes no sense. So to interpret a clutch of “evidence” as evidence in favour this senseless idea is itself senseless. These facts must have some other non-God explanation. If the only reason to believe in God is this one little clutch of evidence, then the chances are that this evidence isn’t actual evidence either.

A theory doesn’t only have to “fit the facts”, as in a small clutch of facts that seem to contradict it. It also has to make sense. What does “make sense” mean? Something like: Consistent with everything else I know about the world. A theory must must not merely “fit the facts”. It must fit all the facts.

The history of science is full of episodes of this sort. A theory is proposed with fits a lot of facts and which makes a lot of sense, despite being radically different from what scientists used to believe. Then, some facts materialise which seem to contradict the theory. Dump the theory! You are refusing to face the facts! You are a dogmatist! But then, these “facts” turn out not to be facts, and the new theory, because of the sheer weight of the evidence in its favour, sails on in triumph. Or, if lots of other evidence piles up against it, not.

I freely admit that what I think about evidence depends on what I already think. As does what you think. Worldviews differ. This is not scandalous. It is merely how things are. To get someone to change their worldview, you have to supply lots of evidence, not just a little bit.