A colour photo taken over a century ago of one of my relatives

This remarkable photo dates from 1903.

I recently encountered it at BabelColour, which I follow. and where I learned who it was:

It shows Rear Admiral William Acland (1847-1924) & was taken by his sister Sarah 117 years ago using the Sanger Shepherd process.

Follow the first link above for a bit more about the Sanger Shepherd process.

This got my attention in quite a big way because I am distantly related to this Admiral Acland. He wasn’t a direct ancestor, or I don’t believe so. But the maiden name of my grandmother on my mother’s side was Acland, and she was the daughter of someone just like this Admiral. I possess a book entitled “Aclands and the Sea” which I acquired when my mother died and I cherry-picked the books in the family home where I grew up, and in any case I recall that my mum’s family were related to various Aclands, including, for instance, this guy. Although I couldn’t find in this Aclands and the Sea book any references to Aclands and their daughters, it’s the sort of book you only have if there’s a family connection. Not quite, so to speak, a real book. So, that Admiral Acland is like a first or second cousin of mine, about five times removed, or some such thing.

I haven’t linked to where I confirmed that my granny’s maiden name definitely was Acland, because, well, because I didn’t. What I will say is that one of the many things the internet does is tell each of us, as and when we ever get interested in such things, lots of stuff about our forebears and relatives, without anyone having to spend weeks grubbing away in libraries. That’s quite a change. I don’t know what it means exactly, but surely something.

On reflection, it may be more significant that we can, should we wish to, research the relatives of people we bump into and get curious about. That never used to be easy but now is. We now live, that is to say, in a world where uncongenial relatives have become that little bit harder for us to forget about being related to.

Tom Harwood on the party politics of Covid

Tom Harwood, tweeting in response to a Guido tweet reporting that Starmer will support all government Covid restrictions:

On the areas it might be useful to have an opposition, we have no opposition.

I agree.

Where are the voices asking at what point do lockdown measures cost more than Covid?

No, that’s rather wrong. Lockdown is not only harming everything else; it is also doing no good on the Covid front at all. The only good thing you can say about these measures is that they are failing to accomplish their purpose. They are not stopping the spread of Covid, which is good, because the sooner Covid has done its spreading, the sooner this nonsense will be over with.

The cost of Covid itself will be what it will be. Whether the frenetic failure to control Covid will cost more than Covid itself is a way to dramatise the costs of this failure, so good in that way, but not the basic point. Which is that these restrictions are doing no good whatsoever, and costing us all a fortune, and should accordingly end. Whether Covid is nasty (I think it is quite nasty and very nasty indeed for those clobbered by it), or in particular is nasty compared to the cost of the restrictions, is only being vehemently argued about by people who don’t understand the essence of this argument.

But the essence of Harwood’s argument is that there ought to be some political opposition happening, and that’s right.

Harwood’s tweet then adds, and ends with, another potent party political point:

You’d think if there ever were a niche for the Lib Dems this would be it but they dropped liberalism long ago.

Just what I had not been thinking. When did I stop despising the LibDems and start ignoring them?

I think I just fisked a tweet.

Flying with geese

Tim Skellet:

OK, folks, I’m off to see a man about some geese.

Not with a view to buying them, but with a view to flying with them a short while. Will explain later. Wish me luck, it may not work out at all.


this is what I want to do, why I’m here. Hoping I get to do it. My photo yesterday:

Vekica says:

Fly Away Home!

Just what I was thinking. I’ll be that movie triggered a lot of this flying with geese stuff, putting it up there with swimming with dolphins.

So much better to fly with birds that to shoot them with guns like so many used to and some still do.

This is the damage a tiny speck of space debris can do at 15,000 mph


I did a piece a while back for Samizdata about that foolish equation people sometimes still make between “the age of exploration” that happened about five hundred years ago, when Europe, until then a backwater, globally speaking, started to connect itself with the rest of the world out there, and space exploration now. Like I said, rather foolish.

The above is one of the many ways in which space travel, unlike those early sea voyages, is profoundly different from anything before attempted by humans. Not saying we shouldn’t do it. Am saying: watch out for very big surprises, often very nasty ones.

I have had that tweet open for over a month, and it refused to let itself be closed. Too interesting. Too dramatic. Too destructive.

Nico Metten describes the “casedemic”

Facebook friend and actual friend Nico Metten, on Facebook, puts the case against “cases”:

One very simple thing for everyone to understand. Cases mean nothing. Deaths is what counts. There is no uptick in deaths. There isn’t even an uptick in cases. They are simply testing more. If I sample 1000 random people and count how many are female I might get something like 502. Now I sample 2000 people and I get something like 998. Headline reading “NUMBER OF WOMEN IN SOCIETY DOUBLED ON MONDAY”. No it did not. And that is what is going on with COVID cases. They have increased the number of tests. It is not rocket science, so why are so many people missing this? NUMBER OF CASES ARE MEANINGLESS.

Nico wrote that only for his Facebook friends. Hope he doesn’t mind me copying and pasting it here.

I am not hearing the British government answering this sort of objection, and the longer they seem to be ignoring it, the more I will suspect that they can’t answer it. If they have responded, good, and please tell me about it.

Colossal baby tripod fish – flamingos feeding – house exploding

Baby? Well, it says “larval”. That sounds very young to me:

I came upon this at Colossal. But I’ve not checked out Colossal lately, and it took a Steven Pinker tweet to draw my attention to these photos, of which the above is one.

I scrolled down at Colossal, having not, as I say, been there recently, and I then also came upon this video of flamingos feeding, which David Thompson also noticed, them being his penultimate item of ephemera today, his final item being about an old man who attacked a fly with his electric fly swatter and blew up his house.

Ah, the Internet, Where would we be without it?

New robot ship

My thanks to Facebook and Actual Friend Tim Evans for alerting me to this:

It’s Britain’s First Robot Ship. The coolness of that fake-photo is a big reason for this posting, but not the only reason. I am actually interested in robotised transport.

For some bizarre reason I found I was able to read the article linked to above, but then I wasn’t, and so far I’ve only skimmed it.

So what follows is speculation that could well be answered in the very article I’m linking to. But here goes anyway.

I sense a certain confusion about what a robot ship actually is. Is it a ship that is told where to go and from then on makes all its own decisions? Or is it a ship which is just as much commanded by a human commander, but is merely commanded by a commander who is using a radio link rather than being on the bridge of the ship? My guess is that there is quite a lot of the latter sort of human commanding going on. On the other hand, warships don’t like revealing to the enemy things like their location by sending or receiving radio signals, so maybe the ship really can command itself. But whichever it is, I’m impressed.

Ships now have expensive crews. You don’t need an onboard toilet in a car, or beds for everyone, or an elaborate food supply system. But on ships, you need all that and more for that crew. So, not having people on board is a big deal. Especially if you are sending the ship into battle.

But there are bigger issues than toilets and beds and canteens. The more I ponder the contribution of “robots” to transport, in the form of robot cars especially, the more I am sure that everything depends on a predictable and controlled environment, with the necessary infrastructural back-up. The DLR, with its centrally controlled “robot” vehicles, works a treat, because people, at any rate in Britain, are already well schooled in not wandering onto train tracks, and if they do and get themselves killed, nobody blames the trains. But cars in city centres trying to avoid disaster are a different story altogether, as the delay with robot cars is now proving.

And the sea, rather oddly, is a more controlled environment than a city centre. Although sea dramas can be very dramatic, they are mostly dramatic in a predictable way. Other ships are much more tightly policed than are all the things that can happen on the roads in cities. So robot ships, for war and for transport, make a lot of sense. They are yet another fun thing to be keeping an eye open for, during the next few years.


Here‘s the big reason why Trump is going to win. He wants everyone to vote for him, black or white, gay or straight. He’s not picky. All you have to be is pro-American!

Ricky Rebel explains his video, in one of the great pro-Trump speeches of the campaign so far. Conservatives are in on the joke! It’s driving liberals crazy! Some of my best friends are Republicans! … Trigger all the Libs!


Five pendulums getting into step

Or should it be “pendula”? Probably not, because that sound vaguely sexual in a rather creepy way.

I am now assuming that this video is showing the same phenomenon as the wobbling of the Millennium Bridge when it first opened.

Tweet-commenter Alma Cook also mentions how periods in groups of women get synchronised.

And yes, I found what I was looking for. Tweet-commenter Morris Jasper says:

This is essentially what happened with the ‘wobbly’ Millennial Bridge.

But as several tweet-commenters say, it’s not right to call any of this “spontaneous”, if by that you mean happening for no reason. The pendulums are all resting on the same oscillating platform. Just as all those people on the Millennium Bridge were walking on the same wobbling bridge.

Talking of pendulums, I am fond of György Ligeti’s Poème Symphonique For 100 Metronomes. They don’t synchronise themselves, because the structure they rest on is not wobbling. They just stop. One by one. It takes just over eight minutes for this to happen. (I also like Ligeti’s piano music. (But now I really digress.))