On how I may now not resume buying classical music magazines

Every month for as long as I can remember, I’ve been buying paper copies of Gramophone and the BBC Music Magazine, “Music” being how the BBC refers to classical music.

All over my home, these magazines have accumulated in shelves and in heaps:

I haven’t had these magazines on order, because I don’t trust my neighbours not to let in burglars through the front door we all share, and because I like the exercise of actually walking to a shop and buying these magazines.

Which means that during the recent Plague, I’ve not been getting either of these magazines. The shops where I would have bought them have all been closed.

One of the many changes I am now contemplating in my life is: Not resuming buying these magazines. Are many people now contemplating a similar decision with regard to these or other such printed publications? Surely, they are. Are many people contemplating buying printed publications they do not now buy? I doubt this very much.

If “normal” ever returns, it will, for most of us, in big ways and in small ways, be a different normal, not least among those who publish the magazines like the ones in my photo. It’s not just the obvious ways in which we will remain nervous of the Plague returning, though that will definitely happen also. It’s that by being jolted into doing this for the first time, and not doing that any more, we are all now shedding old habits and being pushed towards acquiring different habits. I try to resist generalisations involving words like “we all now …”, but I really do think that the above generalisations are largely right. (You need only look at the recent numbers for postings here per month at this blog, on the left, to see this kind of thing happening to me and maybe therefore also for you.)

So, habits are being dropped, and acquired. And, are you, like me, and provoked by the above experiences, going beneath and beyond such changes of habit, and asking yourself: What other habits should I now decide to shed, and decide to acquire?

After all, and especially for the likes of me, life has just got shorter.

SpaceX building fewer rockets

Most of the news today seems to be particular bad. But not this:

SpaceX has gotten good enough at reuse that it’s building fewer rockets.

Space travel is finally getting back to being as fun to follow as it was when they did moon landings. The big difference this time round is that then, money was no object. Now, money very much is an object. Huge improvement.

Signs in Seattle

Here:

I agree with what Matthew Continetti says in this piece, which the above photo adorns, that this is froth. History as farce, Tom Wolf style. This “Seattle Soviet” is going nowhere. It’s “signs and notices”, to quote one of my more frequent categories here, rather than revolutionary architecture of any substance. That being why the above photo is the most informative one I have seen concerning these dramas.

As Kurt Schlichter (who his now being seriously noticed by his enemies) says, the important thing about this Seattle drama is the impact it has on the forthcoming Presidential election in November. Will Trump get the blame for it? Or will the local Democrat politicians? And by extension, the Democrats nationally? Schlichter says the Democrats will get the blame for this Seattle farce, this being why Trump is leaving the local Democrats to not deal with it, until America landslides in his favour. “Silent majority” and all that.

Schlichter combines partisan rhetoric way beyond the point of self-parody with very shrewd observations and analysis. I read him regularly. He is like one of those crazy American lawyers, who seems insane, yet who is taken very seriously, and for good reasons, by his enemies. And as I understand him, which is only a bit, this is because Schlichter is one of those crazy American lawyers, who seems insane, yet who is taken very seriously, and for good reasons, by his enemies.

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.

Roz Watkins “in the front rank of British crime writers”

About three weeks ago, I mentioned the latest DI Meg Dalton book, and its author (also my niece) Roz Watkins.

The Daily Mail just gave Cut To The Bone, which comes out this month, this glowing review:

TWO years ago, I warmly welcomed DI Meg Dalton in Watkins’ debut. Now in her third outing, she has developed into a memorable detective with attitude, pounding Derbyshire’s Peak District with commendable fortitude.

A young social media star — famous for cooking sausages on a barbecue wearing only a bikini — goes missing from her job at an abattoir on a summer’s night.

Traces of blood and hair are found in one of the pig troughs, but there is no sign of the victim. Has she been killed?

Even more importantly, what on earth was she doing working in an abattoir in the first place?

Have animal rights protesters harmed her, or is there something more sinister at work? Has she fallen prey to the ghost of the Pale Child who, legend has it, announces death if once seen?

Subtly plotted, and with a delicate sense of place, it confirms Watkins in the front rank of British crime writers.

Strong stuff, especially that last bit.

Candace Owens – alarm clock for black America

My thanks to Scott Adams for telling me about this video speech to camera by Candace Owens. (When I watched this video at the Scott Adams twitter feed, the top of her head was sliced off, sometimes even including her eyes. Not recommended.)

The heart of what Candace Owens says about the dramas now unfolding in America is that black Americans are the only ethnic group in American who make martyrs and heroes out of their worst people, i.e. petty and not-so-petty criminals who come to bad ends. George Floyd is now all over T-shirts, but he was actually, first, a petty criminal, and then a not-so-petty criminal, as Owens explains. By martyrising and glorifying wickedness and failure, you set yourself up for a life of wickedness and failure. And mostly: just failure.

What Candace Owens says seems to me, and to Scott Adams, very persuasive. I hope it will prove persuasive to those whom it is most particularly aimed at, which is black Americans. But what Owens says is partly aimed at old non-black guys like me and Scott Adams, because what she says is also universally appealing wisdom. Wise people don’t do this! Owens has certainly done nothing to stop me hearing this speech of hers.

A twitter commenter says that Owens will become America’s first female black President. But Owens is surely in the meantime attempting something smaller and more immediate than that, and in the longer run potentially bigger and better than that.

The “alarm clock” reference comes towards the end of the video.

In which Patrick Crozier tells me that the Americans could and should have won the Vietnam War

This was in the course of our latest recorded conversation, which we had over the phone (by which I mean my phone and his computer) last Wednesday, and which has just been posted at Croziervision, with further verbals from Patrick.

Which I recommend, even if you don’t listen to the thing itself. Patrick’s posting is even more informative and full of pertinent links than usual. In particular, I draw your attention to the link concerning the Case-Church Amendment, which Patrick identifies as the moment (it happened in June 1973) when an American victory, having been pretty much won on the battlefield, was then thrown away by the US Congress.

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.

Adam Nathaniel Furman – Colourful Modernist

Here we go. Colourful Modernism is on the up-and-up:

Design education “brainwashes” students into rejecting colour, pattern and ornament, according to Adam Nathaniel Furman, who said a group of London designers is finally overcoming bias against their use.

Furman named the movement “New London Fabulous” and described it as “design and architecture as a visual and cultural pursuit, which is highly aesthetic, sensual and celebratory of mixed cultures”.

The thing you have to understand about “architecture” (as opposed to just shoving up machines for living and/or working in) is that famous architects do most of it, and you have to work long and hard to become one of these people. What designers and architects aged around 35-40 are fantasising is not what gets done, except on a very small scale.

Architecture is not like Art. Art, you can actually do, now, whoever you are. You don’t need a room full of old people to all agree to spend a huge amount of money on it. (It helps that in addition to costing nothing, Art doesn’t have to “work”, as in: not collapse and not leak, and so forth.) But “architecture” needs just this sort of tedious functionality. So, you need to have spent a life-time impressing the clusters of old people who matter, persuading them that you are a safe enough pair of hands as well as a genius, blah blah. Your contemporaries with proper jobs, basically. So, you spend your life doing architectural propaganda and publicity. You do manifestos, books, essays, and little design jobs that attract disproportionate attention, given their often humiliating size (i.e. lack of it). Like Adam Nathaniel Furman is doing. Then, when you’re about sixty, the old men may pick you from the ranks of all the propagandists and visionaries, and let you build a bank headquarters building or an apartment tower or a museum, and that’s your chance. If that stays up, doesn’t leak, and attracts tourists and sells in miniature form in tourist shops and on postcards – if it is declared to be “iconic”, you then have the rest of your life to go on doing “architecture”. You become, as we now say, a Starchitect. Main rule to follow then: stay alive as long as you can.

Notice how Furman is both turning his back on “Modernism” and yet not doing this. His stuff, if and when he ever builds much of it, will still look “modern”. It is merely that he is utterly rejecting one of the founding principles of Modernism. He embraces colour, and also “pattern and ornament”. As he points out, “Modernism” as originally proclaimed, was often quite colourful. But the colours were just painted on. Colour was not stuck on, in an obviously colourful way. “Applied ornament” was an object of hatred and contempt for the original Modernists, and in practise, as we know, they and their followers mostly shunned bright colours also. Furman intends to apply ornament with colourful abandon.

But, not the old sort of ornament that the Victorians liked to do, and against whom the original Modernists reacted with such disgust. Furman is proposing enough of a change to enable architecture fans like me to see something big happening. What he is not saying, merely because Ancientists also like “pattern and ornament”, is that he actually wants to be an Ancientist himself. Perish the thought. He wants to “celebrate all cultures”, rather than just ours as it used to be.

Personally, I find Furman’s “fabulous” designs more than somewhat garish and over-the-top. But then, I almost always dislike strikingly new architecture, until I see it and get used to it. And whether I personally end up liking whatever Furman builds or not, in London it will fit right in. Why shouldn’t it? Everything else does.

Ian Leslie seems to be learning from his mistakes

You get the feeling that a certain New Statesman piece, written in June 2016, must have had a rather big impact on the life and career of its author. Here is what the headline above it said:

Calm down. Trump won’t be President – and Britain won’t leave the EU

The piece under that was written by Ian Leslie.

Here are a couple more headlines, that can be read above two more recent pieces by Ian Leslie, also in the New Statesman.

December 2019:

Political scientists talk about low-information voters, but too much information causes problems too

March 2020:

Society rewards bluffers, but now is the time to admit we don’t know what we’re talking about

The reason this posting is here rather than at Samizdata, which is the group political blog that I have contributed to a lot in the past and continue to contribute to rather less frequently, is that although I have noted the existence of these articles, I have not read all of them. I did read the first one, quite a while ago, but I’ve not read the other two. Before sounding off about all this on Samizdata I need to actually read what Leslie said, and in the case of the top one, read it again.

Two thoughts about this, in the meantime.

First, if my blog postings were gone through, heading by heading, I’m pretty sure that you could have plenty of this sort of fun with them. A difference between prominent and more mainstream opinionators like Ian Lesie, and me, is not that he’s often badly wrong, but I never am. It’s that his wrongness is more public than mine. Also, he’s paid to make a judgement. If I want to hem and haw and hedge my bets and sprinkle my blog postings with question marks, no editor tells me I’m paid to get off the fence rather than remain seated upon it.

I was also very surprised when Brexit won (I talk about this ten minutes into this conversation with Patrick Crozier), and when Trump won (see this blog posting).

Second, it is by being wrong that we often learn. This is a tedious American cliche, with “learning experience” often just being the American for a balls-up. But it’s a cliche because it is said so often, and it is said so often because it is often true.

You certainly get the feeling that Ian Leslie has at least tried to learn from his very public double error of June 2016. I don’t recall the details very clearly, but I do distinctly recall that Leslie’s first piece actually said quite a lot about why Trump won and Brexit won. He identified, that is to say, some relevant variables – degree of economic discomfort and indifference to grander political principles are two that I recall noting. He just got wrong how people felt about how these things mattered, in connection with Trump and with Brexit. He wasn’t wrong because he asked the wrong questions. He merely answered some right questions wrongly. He was half way there, in other words.

So, next step: read the pieces themselves. Remember: The biggest lies in the media are told by those who concoct the headlines. These are often not just wrong, but often immediately proved wrong by what is right underneath them.