Why I disagree with Alice Smith about “the BLM movement”

Alice Smith tweets:

“The BLM movement is totally different from the BLM organisation.”

Yes, just the same way that the Marxist movement is different from Marxist organisations.

And your point is?

Setting aside that bit of snark at the end, which I only include for completeness (that is the whole tweet), I think Alice Smith is wrong about this. I often do agree with her, which is why I follow her on Twitter, but on this, not.

I think that the “Marxist movement” is a lot more similar to “Marxist organisations” than the “BLM movement” is to BLM.

For instance, before they embark upon a test match, England’s cricketers and their test match opponents this summer have together been “taking the knee”. That makes them, in their way, part of the “Black Lives Matter movement”. I know why they’ve been doing this. They’re saying that back lives matter. They are saying that, what with cricket being very multi-racial and multi-cultural, everyone should be treated with respect, there should be no racial insults, etc. etc. And the world in general ought be like that too. It may be a bit virtue-signally, but they really are signalling actual virtues by doing this. Which is why I do not object.

If, on the other hand, I thought that by kneeling thus, these cricketers had been signalling their approval for the demolition of Western Civilisation and its replacement by tyrannical barbarism, which is what BLM, the organisation, believes in and is doing everything it can to bring about, I’d be angry. But if these cricketers thought that that was what taking the knee actually meant, or what the rest of us watching this on our televisions also thought it meant, they’d not be doing it.

Insofar as the BLM organisation actually succeeds in convincing us all that taking the knee does indeed mean favouring the destruction of Western Civilisation, then the practise will become confined to those groups of people who actually believe in the destruction of Western Civilisation. My understanding is that this is happening, somewhat, in America, which is why taking the knee is now losing some of its appeal. But it is not happening, or has not yet happened very much, in Britain.

England v Pakistan: No spectators and all the time in the world

The first test match between England and Pakistan could be a terrible disappointment, for England fan me. But, as I write this now, it could get special. England are chasing 277, I think it is, in the fourth innings. Pakistan got a first innings lead of over a hundred, but then got bowled out for only 169, so England appear to have a chance. It’s the morning of the fourth day now, so England have two days to get those runs. Nobody is at the ground watching, other than the players not out on the pitch and the ground staff and the TV and radio commentators. But it turns out that mere spectators at the ground aren’t necessary for test cricket to be thoroughly absorbing. Test cricket can be played in front of a live studio audience. But if it isn’t, nothing important seems to change.

Basically, if England start losing wickets now, as they well might according to what I’m hearing about plays and misses, then Pakistan will surely win later today, by quite a lot. If England can somehow hang about until tomorrow, they have a chance.

Oh dear. England one down already.

LATER:

England are nevertheless now hurtling towards their target.

LATER: Three quick wickets. England now four down and sinking fast. Shame. Looks like being all over today. The next LATER in this looks being that.

LATER: Well if you follow the first link at the top of this you will now know what a win this was for England, and with the final day not needed. Following those dots above, England lost a flurry of wickets and were at one point 117-5. But Buttler and Woakes turned it around, first by counter-attacking (that being why the final day was not needed) and then by, well, just batting. Buttler got out before the end, but Woakes stayed to the end.

The weird thing is: It would be logical if both Buttler and Woakes now got dropped. Buttler kept wicket very badly, and his batting has not usually been nearly this good. Woakes might be dropped if Stokes is fit to bowl. Given that Stokes actually did some bowling, he surely will be able to bowl. More likely though is that Buttler will stay, and they’ll hope he keeps better in the future. And Anderson will get dropped. Wibble wibble wibble. What the hell do I know? What a game.

Has television rotted brains?

When I did education blogging, this was one of the opinions I acquired, that television may not exactly rot the brain, but it does, shall we say, interrupt its development:

One very specific factor, however, could have led to the stagnation of intellectual performance in the United States in the 1950s. It was then that television entered the lies of families and individuals, rearing them to some extent away from written culture. By 1958, there were 287 television sets per 1,000 inhabitants in the United States. I mentioned earlier that intensive reading before puberty made Homo sapiens more intelligent. It comes as no surprise that an abandonment of intensive reading reduces the effectiveness of the human brain.

It’s not, that is to say, just a matter of teachers getting worse.

So, does this mean that, what with all the texting that the kids do nowadays, that the kids will resume getting cleverer? To find out the answer that that being yet one more reason why I’d like to live to three hundred, instead of just for about another decade or so.

The quote is from Lineages of Modernity (pp.211-212), by Emmanuel Todd, which I am now three quarters of the way through.

Strange sport

In between the first two photos I showed in the previous posting, of and from the coutyard, and the second two, of the hair and the mugs, I also photoed this:

That’s Vincent Square. In the far distance, the Wheel. In the not so far distance, the Vincent Square cricket pavilion. In the foreground? Cricket? There often would be at this time of year, played by the inmates of nearby Westminster School. But the Plague has kiboshed all that. Cricket is only just getting going again.

But we have had two test matches, the second of which concluded today, between England and the West Indies. It’s now one all and one to go, the one to go getting going this coming Friday. More heroics for England from Stokes.

Nobody is at the grounds watching these games, but for the many thousands following virtually, on radio or on television, these are still test matches. I found it oddly soothing, when I watched the highlights on television, or listened to the radio commentary, in which regular reference was made to the strangeness of it all. Usually, the empty seats that often afflict cricket test matches not against Australia are a source of regret, embarrassment even. But for these games, there was the perfect excuse.

This hasn’t been much of a posting, but I wanted something here to remember this strange summer of sport by. One of the oddest things about Lockdown was, first, the total absence of any sport, and then, the oddity of the professional sport that did resume. With all the apparatus of modern communication, but no actual spectators. The perfect reflection of what has been happening to the world as a whole. We weren’t allowed to go anywhere or be anywhere, but we had no trouble keeping in touch.

An England v West Indies memory – at least I got how the stumps looked afterwards

Tomorrow, assuming I have it right, a test match begins between England and the West Indies, in Southampton. There’ll be no spectators, but they’ve all played either English county cricket or whatever is the equivalent in the West Indies, so the players will know how to handle that, no worries.

My favourite moment in an England West Indies test match happened in July 2004 at Lord’s, when Ashley Giles, England’s skilled but nevertheless rather journeyman-type spin bowler, bowled Brian Lara, the West Indian batting superstar.

I photoed it. Well, I did a photo about a quarter of a minute after it had happened:

There you can just about make out Lara, trudging off into the distance, while Giles is mobbed by his team-mates.

Giles knocked back Lara’s middle stump. How do I know that? Because it’s in my photo, which I only just realised, because only just now did I examined it properly:

Crop, sharpen, and there it is. My Canon A70 was pretty terrible by today’s standards, but it was good enough to show that. YouTube confirms it (never seen that before). Giles’s hundredth wicket in test cricket, apparently. Blog and learn.

England bowled the West Indies out that day and won the match. Scorecard here.

Afterwards I watched the highlights on telly. I remember thinking how much more informative these were than actually being there. But despite that, less entertaining.

Friday creatures Twitter dump (3): All the others

Further proof that a dog will put up with just about anything, including being biffed by a cat half its size, if it has been subjugated by humans and if the humans say it mustn’t retaliate.

Well that didn’t take long. So, here are the rest, all in one Twitter dump posting.

Congratulations to Laurence Fox, for standing his ground against the mob. Live long and prosper, Mr Fox, and in the fullness of time become Sir Laurence, for services both to acting and to sanity. (LATER: Fox laughter.)

Also on the subject of acting, my favourite recent Babylon Bee story was this:

Hollywood Actors Pledge Never To Take A Role Where They Have To Pretend To Be Someone Else

Finally:

Saw that here.

That’s it for BMNB today, probably (I don’t promise nothing). I’m off out this evening, to do Something, and it will take several hours for me to get ready.

LATER: Bird carries shark.

EVEN LATER (not Twitter, but I’m dumping it here anyway): Robot jellyfish.

New River walk with GodDaughter1 from Bounds Green to Enfield

On April 2nd 2016, GodDaughter1 and I went on a photo-expedition along the New River. It was most enjoyable, and I prepared another of those big photo-clutches that I could seldom bother to do on the Old Blog, so that you can now, if you feel like it, click-click-click through them on this New Blog. But I also wanted to link back to an earlier posting I did about a rather exotic looking duck that we had encountered that same day.

For reasons explained in this posting, all postings on the Old Blog linked back to from this blog have to have been transferred to the New Blog. So, here I am linking back to What sort of duck is this?

But, problem. That posting itself linked back to a posting about Trees pruned into strange sculptures, because GD1 and I encountered a really strange piece of tree surgery (photo (6.2), on that same expedition.

Which, in its turn linked back to Losing the leaves in Victoria Park, because, well, because it did. So that had to be transferred across too.

When I put it like that, it all seems pretty simple. But following the link chain backwards and then forwards again, opening up each posting about four times over, was the Grandma of all muddles that I had not seen coming, and muddles you do not see coming can get really muddled.

Anyway, it’s all sorted now, and here are all those photos I mentioned, at the top of this:

My favourite is the plate-shaped foliage that has been emptied upside down into the water (photo 28 (4.4)).

There’s lots more I could say about all these photos, but this posting has already gone on far too long, and I confine myself now to saying: See also the plaque about Sir Hugh Myddelton (photo 37 (5.5)), who designed the New River. Designed? You don’t design rivers. They’re just there. But yes, he designed it. The point being it was designed and built, to supply London with fresh water, right at the beginning of the seventeenth century. So, at a time when so many stupid things were in the process of happening, something truly creative also happened.

Well, one other thing: the occasional interpolation of extreme urbanness (e.g. a newspaper headline about Ronnie Corbett (photo 27 (4.3)) and the van covered in stickers (photo 21 (3.5)) is because when you walk along beside the New River, it sometimes dives underground and you have to go up to regular London, until you get to the next bit.

Lockdown chat with Patrick

On June 2nd, Patrick Crozier and I had another of our recorded conversations, this time about Lockdown.

In the course of this, I refer to a photo that I did take, and a photo that I didn’t take. The photo that I did take was this:

That being me, and another bloke, recording the fact of empty shelves in Sainsburys. The photo that I didn’t take, but talk about with Patrick, is the one I should also have taken of how the shelves laden with less healthy food – crisps, chocky bickies etc. – were crammed with yet-to-be-sold stuff, a lot of it offered at discount prices.

Patrick, in his posting about this chat, mentions something he thought of afterwards but didn’t say during, which is that what may have been going on with the crisps and bickies was not that people were shunning unhealthy food, but rather that they were shunning party food, on account of there suddenly being no parties being had. Good point. In my photo above, you can see in the distance, the drinks section. Plenty of drink still to be had also.

I remember, when I used to do chat radio, I used to regret not having said things I should have said, either because I had them in mind but forgot, or because I only thought of them afterwards. But, in due course, I realised that what mattered was what I did say. If that was reasonably intelligent and reasonably well put, then I did okay. People wouldn’t say: Ooh, but he forgot to mention blah blah. They would merely decide whether they liked, or not, what I did say.

Well, this time around, I think there was a huge elephant in the virtual room that we didn’t discuss, which I am sure some listeners would expect us to have at least mentioned. Sport. As in: There hasn’t been any! Patrick and I are both sports obsessives. He is a Watford fan. But he has had no Premier League relegation battle to warm his heart during the last few months. I love cricket, not just England but also Surrey. Likewise for me: nothing, despite some truly wonderful weather at a time when it’s often very grim. But, not a single sporting thing, other than ancient sportsmen reminiscing about sports contests of yesteryear on the telly. Yet we never mentioned any of that. Since a lot of the point of our chat wasn’t to yell at politicians and scientists, hut rather just to remember the oddities of our own lives now, this was a major omission. We talked, as we always do whether that’s the actual topic or not, about war, this time in connection with the question of which economic policy attitudes will prevail during whatever attempts at an economic recovery start being made in the months to come. Yet sport, the thing that has replaced war in so many people’s lives, got no mention by us.

One year ago today: “You cannot do that!”

I love to photo the front pages of newspapers, while in shops from which I also buy things I still want:

And that was the front page of The Times of a year ago tomorrow, June 1st 2019.

The headlines make interesting reading now. Trump trying to stop us getting into bed with Huawei. Bet our politicians now wish she’d listened then.

And, the Lib Dems riding high in the polls. But this was because they had temporarily managed to get most of the Remain vote supporting them. Labour eventually got most of the Remainers supporting them. Meanwhile, the Leave vote was split, but would later unite in voting Conservative.

But most important of all, to me, are the pictures in between those two headlines. That’s Ben Stokes, taking an amazing catch, in England’s opening World Cup 2019 match against South Africa at the Oval, one year ago exactly. Stokes only had to take the catch this way because he at first misjudged it and got himself too far towards it. But who cares?!? He caught it. Video, with Nasser Hussain’s great commentary, here. England went on to win the tournament.

Now, YouTube is showing me the amazing Ashes test-match-winning last wicket partnership, at Headingley, between Jack Leach and … Stokes.

The weather now is perfect for cricket and has been for several weeks. But as of now, they still cannot do that, and we fans are having to be content with memories.