Another Twitter dump

I had a Twitter dump earlier. It feels so good to be getting this stuff out of my system, so here’s another. Again, in no particular order, and not chosen for bang-up-to-dateness, just funness and interestingness.

It maybe makes things a bit clearer if I indent the tweet references, and then unindent at the end, at which point I’ll be having a bit more to say:

What concrete blocks are made of in China.

Ghostbusters.

The Battle of France in 44 seconds.

This family built a hug guard.

Baihe reservoir (白河水庫) in Tainan county is at once both shockingly ugly and stunningly beautiful.

BBC’s Jeremy Bowen says there haven’t been all that many terrorist attacks in Israel.

Everyone who was worrying he was a fascist now worrying he’s not fascist enough.

150-foot iceberg passes through Iceberg Alley.

My boyfriend cheated on me, but, I love him. What should I do? A Georgist: Implement a land value tax.

James Burke had only one chance to film this scene, and the result is possibly the best timed shot in television history.

Jeremy Corbin won the argument.

The lockdown is ending because the American people say it’s ending.

I miss those carefree pre-coronavirus days when nobody died at all.

In each of the above cases, you get most of the tweet, and sometimes all of it. So, if all you want to know is what the tweet said, no need to click. But if you want to know who else besides me thought the tweets in question to be funny or interesting, click away.

And that has actually done the trick. To my great surprise I have actually cleared out all this tweetery from my hard disc and from now on my computer will surely be functioning better, until such time as I need another similar dump. There remain only a few animal-related tweets which are already scheduled to appear this coming Friday.

The ups and downs of cricket (and of the City of London)

Ten years ago today, England beat Australia in the Final of the ICC World Twenty20, in Bridgetown Barbados. It seems that Australia batted first, lost early wickets and never recovered.

I watched the final dozen or so overs of this game at the home of Michael Jennings:

Happy memories. What could be better than watching England beat Australia at cricket, at the home of a friend, who is an Australian cricket nut?

My hard disc has a much better memory than I do. I had no recollection of this until I just looked up May 16 2010 in the photo-archives. And up came all these photos of a screen, telling of England’s triumph.

The Man of the Match was … Craig Kieswetter. Whatever happened to him?

It wasn’t good:

Craig Kieswetter, the England ODI and T20 wicketkeeper who was Man of the Match in the 2010 World T20 final, has announced his retirement following the eye injury he sustained last year.

Kieswetter was struck in the face when a ball went between his helmet and grille when playing against Northamptonshire, breaking his nose and damaging his eye socket. He returned for two matches at the end of the 2015 season, then went to play T20 in South Africa, but struggled with the effects of the injuries.

It could have been far worse. That I had definitely not forgotten about.

LATER: Here’s how the City of London was looking that evening, photoed from Michael’s local railway station:

No Cheesegrater. No Scalpel. And no Big Lump, the latest biggest one that has no silly name because it’s too boring. Not, in other words, yet, this, which is how Things are now, give or take a few cranes.

Howard Goodall on the world’s first recording star

I’ve been dipping into Howard Goodall’s Big Bangs, which is a book (based on a BBC TV show), whose subtitle is “The Story of Five Discoveries That Changed Musical History”. I have started at the end, with Bang Number Five, which was when Edison recorded sound. Here’s what Goodall says about the impact of the nascent sound recording industry on the life and career of Enrico Caruso (pp. 218-220):

Enrico Caruso was one of seven children born to a working-class Neapolitan family living in the Via San Giovanello. He received his first singing instruction as a choirboy in a local church, and as a teenager he made a few lire every night singing favourite Neapolitan songs for the cafe customers on the harbour waterfront. He began work in a factory, but eventually he was able to turn professional with his outstanding voice. After a shaky debut in Naples – he vowed never to perform there again – he was invited to sing at the holiest of all opera’s shrines, La Scala, Milan. It was here in March 1902 that Fred Gaisberg, the Gramophone Company’s European representative, heard Caruso performing in Franchetti’s popular opera Germania. Gaisberg offered the young unknown a deal to record ten arias for £100; Caruso duly accepted the offer, to the horror of Gaisberg’s London office, which tried to forbid the spending of ‘this exorbitant sum’. Gaisberg, however, backed his hunch, using his own money. That April, in Suite 301 in the Grand Hotel, Milan, the ten records were cut, beginning with ‘Studenti, Udite’ from Germania. Gaisberg went on to recoup his investment thousands of times over – and the records earned his company a fortune.

Most of the ten masters made on that occasion remain in perfect condition to this day. After their release, Caruso’s fame spread dramatically throughout Europe and America. He made two recordings, in 1902 and 1907, of the aria ‘Vesti la giubba’, from Leoncavallo’s opera I Pagliacci, which between them sold over a million copies. I Pagliacci was at this time a relatively new opera (it was given its first stage performance in 1892), based on a recent real-life criminal case. It’s hard to find a modern equivalent for this – a modern opera being as commercially successful as I Pagliacci. Even the hit records released from the shows of Andrew Lloyd Webber are based on stories from the past (Evita is probably his most contemporary non-fiction subject). As for the work of contemporary ‘classical’ composers, the thought of Harrison Birtwistle writing an opera which included a million-selling song is, let’s face it, laughable.

Caruso was to the early gramophone what Frank Sinatra or Maria Callas were to the LP, what Elvis Presley and the Beatles were to the 45-rpm ‘single’, and what Dire Straits and George Michael were to the compact disc: the ‘software’ of the music that drew listeners to the ‘hardware’ of the machines and materials. He was the first recording megastar, as much a household name in his day as Charlie Chaplin, prodigal son of another medium also in its infancy. Caruso’s voice had a timbre and range that perfectly suited the limitations of the medium, it could soar and tremble with such strength and depth that the background hiss and the indistinct accompaniment were all but forgotten. To many people, hearing him scale the summits of high opera was both miraculous and moving and this was not just their first experience of the true potential of the gramophone but also a gateway to the whole classical repertoire.

Edison’s humble contraption was to become a universal gift with the popularity of Caruso, catapulting classical music out of the small, exclusive world it had hitherto known.

The Gramophone and Victor Companies were buoyed by Caruso’s success. What’s more, all the other top singers now wanted a piece of the action, hurriedly dropping their objections to the quality of the medium once they realised that it could make them rich. The female equivalent of Caruso was Nellie Melba, an Australian soprano with a peach of a voice, and a good head for business, who held out until she got £1,000 – and her own label in passionate mauve.

Time tricks

When I woke up yesterday, I could have sworn it was Friday. And I at once did two things. I checked for an incoming email telling me when a food delivery would happen, which wasn’t there. Odd. And, I did a blog posting about a bird photo. On a Thursday rather than on a Friday, Friday being my usual day for such things.

I’m not the only one suffering time derangement. I am hearing this lots, in the course of all the phone calls with friends and relatives I am doing to stay in touch. People everywhere are losing all track of what time it is, what day of the week it is, what date it is. Let’s see what The Internet has to say. Yes, this is now an official Internet Thing:

In my case, two forces are at work. At any moment I am either absorbed in something, with no fear that if I stay absorbed I will miss something that’s coming up. In which case I lose all track of time, and it goes far faster than I expect. Or, I’m doing nothing, wondering what to get stuck into next, in which case I also lose all track of time, because it then seems to go so slowly. Combine these two things, and I really lose all track of time. All of this quite aside from the fact that I am getting old, a major symptom of which is … losing all track of time.

What is lacking for me, and for many others, is Things Which I Have To Be At Or To Pay Attention To At A Particular Time. Work. Events. Meetings. Sporting events, for real or live on TV, which are not retro-wallowing but which are actually happening now, at a definite time which you have to be aware of or you’ll miss it. And it turns out that if you lack such Events to keep reminding you of the time, which includes the day of the week and the date as well as merely whether it’s 10am or 4pm, you … lose track of time.

Hence the bird.

Good news, the food delivery has now been delivered, that email having earlier arrived telling me when to expect it. These people. Recommended to me and now recommended by me.

Silencing the many voices

I am in the habit of opening windows, each window with lots of open tabs, and of leaving them all open. Pocket (thank you again 6k) has been a life saver, because I can now close a tab and still have a record of it. But even then, I still tend to have a lot of tabs open, so much so that every now and again, Google seizes up and has to be restarted. At which point I get the magic option, if I’m lucky, to “restore” all the windows and tabs I had open when the seizure struck. Well, I want these tabs open, or why would they all be open? So, I duly restore.

At which point, if my loudspeakers have not been silenced, there begins a babble of voices, caused by several tabs immediately starting to talk. I’d paused them, but when they get restored, they forget about being paused. Or something. (If I perfectly understood all this, I probably wouldn’t have a problem.) The problem being, there are so many tabs open that I find it very hard to track down all these babbling voices. Recently, I have been switching my discretionary attention from television to things like YouTube and podcasts of various sorts. That has made all this far worse.

Now, as I type this into BMNBdotcom, I have managed to find and to silence all but one of these voices, but that one voice is persisting. I can’t find it. Until I do, the only way to silence it will be to silence everything. So I can’t listen to any other sound my computer is capable of producing, without this voice talking over the top of it.

My search continues. I’m not expecting any answers, but I would love it if some passing commenter could solve this for me.

I actually did the “simultaneous sip” …

… before watching what Scott Adams has to say about the Democratic Debate that happened in Las Vegas last night. This is the first time I have done this. This only happened because I happened to have a recently assembled cup of coffee on my desk. My simultaneous sip felt nice.

By all accounts I’ve read so far (in my bubble), the actual debate itself was a Motorway Pile-up of epic proportions. I’m guessing Adams will be saying pretty much that.

Trouble is, I have to be out soon, and will have to hold off watching this until I get back. But the point of the simultaneous sip is that this interruption now really hurts. I don’t think this interruption would have hurt, had it not been for me actually doing the simultaneous sip. Me doing the simultaneous sip is like the difference between something being merely on, and me truly tuning in to it.

The voice of the Falklands War

This afternoon, Patrick Crozier and I recorded another of our podcasts. In due course, assuming the machine recording us didn’t misbehave, it should be showing up here.

Towards the end, during the “anything else we want to say” bit, we reminded ourselves of this amazing character:

For many Brits, Ian McDonald is the sight and the sound which will most vividly take us back to that bizarre time. Would the internet have anything to say about this unique bit-part player in recent British military history? Somewhat sadly, yes it did, in the form of obituaries. Ian McDonald died, in March 2019, one day before what would have been his 83rd birthday.

In the above video, which I found here, the news of the sinking of HMS Sheffield was imparted to Britain’s television viewers in the ponderous and funereal style that McDonald adopted no matter what news he was conveying.

As McDonald said later, this eccentric manner of speaking was deliberate:

“I knew right from the start there would be bad news as well as good news, which is why the delivery I chose was drained of all emotion with no adjectives, short and truthful. …”

Maybe short on paper, but it took an age for him to read it out. Nevertheless, it made a refreshing change from the bombastic and excitable style often adopted by other official spokesmen doing this sort of job, eager to talk up triumphs, but either saying nothing or telling lies about the inevitable setbacks. At the time, most of us trusted that McDonald was, as he said, telling the truth, even if not the whole truth.

Creature tweets

Lost of animal stuff on Twitter lately, as always, with much of the stuff I liked best involving dogs.

First, a dog’s unique way of getting past a gate.

Next, a reunion.

I looked up “cats and dogs” on Twitter, to see what epic confrontations would materialise, but instead found my way to #Dogandcat, which is full of dogs and cats getting along with one another, although some of the cats seem to be getting a bit irritated. Dogs, on the other hand … There’s just nothing they won’t do to oblige their humans. They’ll even like cats, if the humans tell them to.

I also learned of Dog and Cat, which is a TV show from the seventies about two humans called that. A young Kim Basinger is involved, presumably playing Cat. This never made it to England, first time around.

Moving away from dogs, horses are reminded not to overstep boundaries.

Next, because I know you’ve always had your doubts about this, ostriches:

… do not bury their heads in sand to hide from danger. They actually dig holes to bury their eggs and the myth came about from people seeing ostriches putting their heads in the holes to turn the eggs to ensure they are evenly heated.

Final full stop added there. Twitter is great for animal videos, but is ruining punctuation.

Finally, news from a fox. Well, actually a Fox:

A Twatter pile on I can deal with.

Extremely painful upper left molar, not so much.

Oh dear god, the agony.

Lots of suggested remedies follow. I trust the agony will abate soon.

A Happy New Year of sport

The weekend just concluded is one of my favourites of the entire year, every year, because of sport. The Six Nations rugby gets started, which this time involved Italy getting slaughtered by Wales 42-0, and Scotland and England getting beaten by Ireland in Ireland and and by France in France. Then on Sunday evening the Super Bowl got started, and went on into the not-that-small hours. The Flyover Country MAGA Chiefs defeated the Coastal Elite 49ers with a great come-back at the end, so I was very happy about that.

Plus there was lots of regular sporting stuff that just happened to be happening. On Saturday morning there was a Big Bash League cricket game in Australia. In the BBL, I care only about how well the English players do, and in this game the Alex Hales Thunder defeated the Phil Salt Strikers.

I even took a look at the Australian Open tennis, in which Djokovich beat somebody. Everyone hates Djokovich, apparently, but he seemed okay to me.

There was also women’s rugby, snooker, and much else besides of a sporting nature, but women’s rugby, snooker, and much else besides of a sporting nature are none of them of great interest to me. What am I, a sporting obsessive?

Then on Sunday afternoon, Spurs beat Man City at English football, which tends not to happen these days. Spurs took both of their two chances, while ManC missed all of their eighteen chances, including a penalty that the Spurs goalie saved. That definitely softened the blow of England losing at the Rugby version of football to France.

What with all this excitement, it feels to me like now is the real beginning of the new year, a feeling intensified this year by Brexit, which caused January 31st to feel exactly like December 31st.

Happy New Year everyone.

Those thirty-five photoer photos from October 20th 2007 that I promised you

Yes, as earlier promised:

There’s a lot I could say, by way of a photo-essay, about these photoer photos. But, do you know what the best thing about them is, in my opinion? How good they are. Oh, technically, they’re a bit rubbish, but I don’t care about that. I just really like them. Even the one of me. But especially the one of the bloke lying face down on the ground playing a guitar behind his head.