Thursday, 22 June 2017

Sir Mo Farah in Feltham


High quality street art hits a Feltham industrial estate. The artist worked a while on this, and it's clearly sponsored by Russell Finex, who supply specialised filtration equipment. Click on the picture because I uploaded it full-size and it shows the detail, the quality of the artist's work, and how damn good an iPhone SE camera is.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Random Photographs From Recent Days


A book in Foyles about Arnold Bax I'm never going to read (I listen to a lot of music, but don't read much about it); remember the General Election?; the Frank Pick memorial in Piccadilly Circus; runners in the London 10k by St James' Park; my local Air Park on a Sunday evening; the converted church across the road from Feltham station, taken through the clearest air I can remember.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

The Arrogance of the German Chancellor: My Last Political Post

Two years ago, the Chancellor of Germany, without consulting her fellow Europeans, or her fellow regional governors, decided to open Germany’s, and hence Europe’s, borders to millions of economic migrants who were mostly illiterate, innumerate, could not speak German or any other European language, had no trades, no skills, and had arrived mysteriously fit and aggressive at Mediterranean ports or eastern European borders after what must have been gruelling 1,200-mile journeys (at least) from Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Nigeria and all points African and Middle Eastern.

The Chancellor did this despite the warnings, she must have received from her own intelligence services, about the low economic value of these young men, the fact that they had been recruited, transported by truck and lorry to the ports and borders by NGOs, and that they had been sent to Europe to farm for welfare benefits. Europe’s intelligence services are staffed by smart people: they must have worked out that communities all over those countries were sending Europe their lazy, angry, crazy, surplus, and criminal. Just as Castro sent the US his criminals, AIDs victims, long-term sick and other undesirables (as he saw it). They would have briefed the German Chancellor, and the EU, on this possibility.

A politician works for their constituents first, their fellow citizens second, and anyone else a very distant third. The job of governments is not to tell citizens how to live, and what they can and cannot say, do or believe. The duties of a government are to defend those people and their families against violence and exploitation, and then to advance their interests. It does not matter if the exploitation is the so-called Gig Economy and zero-hours contracts, or by migrants sent to farm welfare benefits, or whether the violence comes from men from another country wearing uniforms, or men from another country without uniforms beating and raping women. The German Chancellor failed in that duty. Victor Orban of Hungary did not. Neither did David Cameron, whom we may assume listened to the brief by his intelligence services, and refused to take large numbers of the fake Syrian refugees.

The German Chancellor’s act was one of sheer political brute force: she had the power to dump disaffected, violent and unemployable young men all over Europe, and she did so. Because power means nothing if it is not exercised arbitrarily from time to time. It was a message to the EU that Germany would do whatever its Chancellor wanted to do, that she could and would on a whim ignore her duties to the electorate, and that the EU would pay for it as well. She dared the EU to reprimand her, and it did not. She dared her own politicians to reprimand her, and they did not. When ordinary people started to complain, she turned the media companies into her censors. Her response to the outrage felt by ordinary European people at the invasion of 2015 was to make it a crime to express that outrage. Arrogance masked by righteousness.

So-called Liberals and other assorted “Good People” show a genuine righteous arrogance when they suppose that it is their job, and the government’s job, to make the electorate “better people”. It was a New Labour strategy to "rub the Right's nose in diversity” with indiscriminate immigration in the Oughties. One has to assume the was some gerrymandering intended as well. Now those “Good People” are smugly watching what they think is the train wreck of Brexit, thus showing no understanding of the cunning of reason. We can only be thankful that none of them have the ability to act with the same reckless and malicious brute force as the German Chancellor.

This righteous arrogance is why I want dump a basket of wet fish over the heads of many editorialists at the Financial Times, the Economist and other formerly august media institutions. It’s not their job to be on the right side of history, but it’s not smart to be so smugly on the wrong side either. A little self-awareness would help.

Having understood that it’s a wholly pointless anger about the arrogance and smugness (“Good People”) or hypocrisy (the German Chancellor) of politicians who refuse to do their job, and the media who fail to hold them to account for that failure, I’m now going to stop with the politics. This and the previous CUPID post are it. Prepare for lots of posts on things mundane, artistic or otherwise of a man with a life.

Monday, 12 June 2017

The CUPID (Con-Man/Useful Idiot/Denier)

I’m going to invent a new acronym: CUPID. Con-man, Useful Idiot or Denier. (The P is redundant.) I need this, because there’s a bunch of behaviours that show a family resemblance, but could come from one of three different motives. If you’re one of the people who invented the Russian Hacker scam, you’re a Con-man. If you believe it and pass it on, you’re a Useful Idiot. If you need to believe it because the alternative is to admit you were fooled by Hillary, you’re a Denier. If you are taking the EU shilling and talking down the UK’s prospects after 2019, you are a Con-man. And possibly a traitor. If you believe that Britain doesn’t deserve a good deal, because it was dumb to leave, you’re a Useful Idiot. If you think that one more popular movement could reverse the decision, and that the EU will take us back, you’re in psychiatric amounts of Denial.

Making a mistake doesn’t make you a CUPID. Doing something because you had the wrong beliefs about how the world worked, makes you ill-informed or ignorant. Making a mistake and not learning from it, makes you an idiot. Making a mistake, and claiming that the world should be a place where your mistake wouldn’t be a mistake: that’s being a CUPID. Making an obviously bad choice, and insisting the world be such that yours would be a good choice: that’s being a CUPID. Taking a job for which you have insufficient knowledge and skill, and not doing the reading and the practice: that’s being a CUPID. Thinking you can legislate the world to being a better place, and that people who avoid your legislation are bad people: that’s being a CUPID.

Posturing and virtue-signalling are symptoms of CUPIDidity.

EU bureaucrats are mostly CUPIDs. Washington Democrats are CUPIDs. Russian-hacker conspirators are Useful Idiots, and the people who started that nonsense are Con-men. Anyone who thinks that mo’ EU is what we need is a CUPID. People who want uneducated village Islamists in Europe are CUPIDs. And traitors. Impeach Trump-ers are CUPIDs. Apologists for Islam who won’t understand that it’s one religion in English and another in Arabic are CUPIDs. So are people who believe that mankind can affect the climate of this planet to a significant degree. Uber, Deliveroo, and all the other “gig economy” companies are evil Con-men. So is any other employer who uses zero-hours contracts or doesn’t pay interns. Those people are going to hell. The people who made and sold CDOs and all the bastard off-spring products are evil Con-men, as is anyone who lends sub-prime. Newspaper managements who spent zillions on building websites and then sacked the journalists they needed to put decent content on the websites are Idiots. People who tell you to buy gold every time anything happens are Con-men, and so are Bitcoin enthusiasts, while IT managers who offshore system administration and development are CUPIDs. People who think that a State basic income are CUPIDs who are also economic ignoramuses. Editors who let CUPIDs take up one column inch of space are Useful Idiots.

When, miraculously, a decent Brexit deal with some harsh bits on the side is agreed, the CUPIDs at The Economist will say that May's government did a good job negotiating, but that it was a shame they should have needed to. CUPIDs can be patronising.

Why is the world is suddenly full of CUPIDs? It always was, it's just that we can see this particular bunch more clearly, now that the "liberal" project is starting to fall apart.

The Con-men come from various lucrative scams that come from the “liberal” project, scams that require huge government subsidies: renewable energy, carbon trading, big education and the useless liberal arts degrees that go with it. I suspect that a lot of virtue-signalling by large US corporations is for employee retention and relations. Internationalism is a liberal project, and the Con-men turned that into H1-Bs, and the grotesquerie of American workers training their cheap Indian replacements. Neo-liberalism sounds as if it should be a Good Thing, but actually it is a Terrible Thing, bringing in low wages, volatile employment, cost-and-quality cutting, downsizing, automation, and off-shoring. Is it co-incidence that neo-Liberal Capitalists are enthusiastic supporters of SJW causes, and that their enthusiasm is directly proportional to the extent they exploit their working-class labour force? Smoke and mirrors?

And now the CUPIDs can sense that these scams and the accompanying free rides are going to stop. Daddy USA and Mommy UK are not going to pay their rent and bail them out anymore. The Saudis get it: they want the USA disrupting the liberal Arab world, they have to pay by purchasing billions of dollars of defence kit. The Europeans don’t get it: they think that the USA should subsidise NATO and and employ European workers on pointless climate change scams. Not any more. No more massive car exports from Germany, subsidised by a currency kept artificially low by bankrupt Greeks. Everyone knew that was happening, but now everyone knows everyone knows.

Donnie, Donnie, don’t you know you can’t talk about the family secrets like that?

So now the CUPIDs are whining like teenagers who just lost their allowance and Internet privileges. That would not matter much, if only they didn’t have Twitter, and if only the Press didn’t quote tweets. The press does not quote or refer to You Tube videos, partly because loony liberals don’t do well on You Tube, where it becomes fairly clear fairly quickly there’s something wrong with them. The maul-right is a lot more video-genic. Twitter and its press coverage makes the loony left look a lot more significant than it is. The minimal amount of work needed to tweet suits the quick, emotional reaction using cliches and catch-phrases. Just what journalists want: feel the offence. And what the CUPIDs want, is the world to be back they way it was, when no-one talked about their Big Problem.

The Big Problem is that CUPIDs are goats in sheep’s clothing. They call themselves “liberal” or “left-wing”, but they are not their grandfather’s liberal. Their grandfather was a decent middle-class man who supported the cause and betterment of the working man. The CUPIDs are Uber-loving, career-focussed, self-actualising, rootless apparatchiks who exploit their own working-class. In Europe they have the good manners to stay silent about the working-class, while at the same time removing its economic support and surrounding it with an unwanted vibrant diversity. In the US, it is acceptable and even virtuous to say things about white people, and especially unemployed rural white people, that would be considered actionable if said about urban people of colour. On either continent, they are a class apart with their own economic interests to protect: their taxpayer-funded, non-productive jobs, or the taxpayer-funded projects on which they work, disguised as private-sector employees. CUPIDs depend on the “liberal project”. Which is now being, as they used to say at Yahoo, “sunset”. Except that’s the wrong time of day. It’s really sunrise, and the CUPIDs are going up in flames, like vampires everywhere.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Election 2017: And The Hits Keep Coming

Calling an election was dumb.

Putting a dementia tax in the manifesto was dumber.

Saying she hadn't changed anything, instead of openly fessing up to bad judgement, was even dumber.

Faced with a Labour Party promising half a generation debt forgiveness, and not expecting youth registration and participation to increase, was a little complascent.

The more I think about it, the more I see that treating Brexit as some sort of moral crusade for sovereignty is going to put the bureaucrats' backs up. Brexit is a business deal and should be treated like one. Just with the bit where we repeal the 1972 Act one quiet morning. "That? Oh sure, we did that. It's just a formality. Now, about the Somerset Brie quota..."

A hung Parliament could be the best thing for the Brexit negotiations.

A party with a strong majority would see itself as having a mandate to do deals, and then feel under an obligation to the EU to sell those deals to the House. Basically acting as agents for the EU. And also vulnerable to a hundred negotiating tactics you would not believe.

A party with a weak majority can say "Well, we will take that to the House, and we'll let you know". They aren't going to argue anyone's case: the House will decide. This puts the decision where it belongs: on the 650 MP's in the House of Commons, equally across all parties. And with a narrow majority, no-one can afford to virtue-signal and otherwise posture. Lest one vote make us subjects of the European Courts forever.

That would take a little finesse. No emotive language, no bullying, just professional.

There's been way too much bullshit in the last eighteen months. In fact, I now understand the meaning of that phrase: "Man, the bullshit piled up so fast in Vietnam, you needed wings to stay above it."

 
(It's number 3 on the countdown)

Monday, 5 June 2017

May 2017 Review

Birthday Month.

(This post was written the Sunday after the London Bridge atrocity. The best thing to do when some evil losers kill people is to carry on like nothing happened. Unless you are directly involved. I'm in Brunswick Square, Sunday lunchtime, and it's doing regular business. People are walking around, no-one looks scared, the shops are open and the movies are showing. That is exactly the correct response. One's thoughts go to the relatives of the dead, and to the wounded, to whom may be granted a swift recovery. And then, on with normal life.)

I passed sixty-three this month. I don't look it to anyone under thirty-five. To me, I look like an old man who doesn't have wrinkles. For reasons I will explain in next month's review, I know my vital signs are phenomenal for someone in their mid-20's, let alone for my age. I look, however, like an old sports saloon does when surrounded by new sporty cars. You can see it was once a neat piece of kit, but it's out of its time. It's might even drive faster and better than a lot of the new cars, but it's still an old car.

Sis took me for a birthday supper at Gauthier, and we had lunch at Dishoom off Shoreditch High Street one Friday. I met a friend for an early supper at our regular venue: an Argentinian Steak House in Richmond. My Mother's birthday is this month, and Sis and I took her to Shambles in Teddington on a Saturday that was warm enough to sit outside. 

I read Sudhir Hazareesingh’s How the French Think, Ray Deletin’s The Axeman’s Jazz, Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, Eduardo Rabassa’s Zero-Sum Game, Christie’s compilation of their greatest hits, Going Once: 250 Years of Culture, Taste and Collecting, Sarah Thornton’s 33 Artists in 3 Acts, and a chunk of Charles Hadlock’s Six Sources of Collapse

I saw Colossal and Raw at the Curzon Soho. Colossal has Anne Hathaway. That's pretty much all I needed to know about it. It's also a good film. Did I mention Anne Hathaway? Raw is not a movie about female power, but about what happens when mothers don't tell their daughters how to handle themselves. Forget you read that if you're going to see it. There were a lot of men at the Colossal screening, and a lot of younger women at the Raw screening. Raw did not have Anne Hathaway. I think that explains it.

I took a week off for my birthday, and the weather was rubbish. However, I re-discovered the pleasure of doing nothing but reading for a large chunk of the day - with quick breaks to load the washing machine, do a bit or ironing or cut my nails.

I took my right arm to my osteopath. It has been hurting ever sinceI started to do pull-ups. I can push with the best of them, but pulling has always been my weakness. Applies to weights in the gym as well. (Ba-boom-tish! I’m here all week.)

I arranged to get a Smart Meter installed. Except they never showed, called once in the morning to say they might be delayed but would still make an AM, and then I had to call them at one o’clock to find out what was going on, and they requested a delay until two, and then didn’t show up or call, so I re-booked, went shopping, called again and cancelled. Every time I deal with any of these guys - electricity, phone, gas, water - there’s always some damn reason they can’t make it. It’s always something that’s never happened before, but the point is, it’s always something. So I said, no thanks. Smart meters are for your convenience, not mine, so you can sack more meter-readers. And if the things need calibrating before leaving the depot, rather than work straight out of the box, I’m wondering what happens when my Smart Meter tells them I spent £1,000 on electricity in a month. How do I show it’s wrong? Too much computer. Give me the old electro-mechanical one. And hire a reader to check it.

Don’t get me started on what happened to Talk-Talk’s suburban London network when it rained on my week off. Three days the service was erratic, and I had to use all my powers of bluffing to get the telephone help line to admit it. And they want to sell me FTTC. Not while the last twenty yards is sixty-year old (at least!) copper from a distribution pole into the house. That’s going to go wonky every time the weather gets wet or cold. Distribution poles are a wonderful thing: that one survived the 1987 storm and didn’t blink an eyelid. But the insulation round the copper must be brittle and leaky by now. 

Monday, 29 May 2017

Performance Advice is No Use To Regular People

I read an excellent book about sleeping recently. Turns out that if you want a really good night's sleep, made round your body rhythms, you should sleep on your own. You can canoodle all you like before dozing off, but when it comes to sleep, the performance-minded sleeper sleeps alone. People whose partners snore will doubtless agree.

An end to this nonsense, I say. I have said before that physical sobriety is only for drunks and emotional sobriety is only for emotional fuck-ups. Both of which are me. In the same way, dieting is for people who can't stop eating the wrong food and putting on weight; exercise is for people who will otherwise spend all day on the couch; and managed sleep is for insomniacs. There are all sorts of people who benefit from exercise, managed sleeping and eating, a consistent programme of cultural and intellectual self-improvement, but all of them are either athletes, creative workers, or dysfunctionals. And the comorbidity between "dysfunctional" and "athlete or creative worker" is much higher than advertised.

Ordinary people - and if you bristled slightly at that phrase, you are one - should not adopt ideas intended for athletes, drunks, and violin students entering the BBC Young Musician competition. Ordinary people should not aim for consistent exercise, diets and exercise regimes, career development and self-management. Nor should they aim for a meaning, purpose, goal or story for their lives. They should not aim for balance, calm, and proportion in their emotions. Those things are for neurotic, driven, obsessed, unstable people who need to manage themselves, either because they will fly apart or because they are aiming for a distant target.

Ordinary people who can afford to eat just a little too much should be overweight; ordinary people should have no understanding of science and engineering, and even less of economics and the human soul. They should have as much knowledge and skill as it takes to do their job, and no more, certainly not enough to make it more difficult for the next person. They should not choke up at the end of Mahler's Second, the music of J S Bach should sound like busy fiddling, and their first and last reaction to a Basquiat should be that their children paint like that. Rohmer movies should feel like paint drying, and sushi should be cold rice and fish. Ordinary people should get hangovers, eat curry on a Saturday night, cereal for breakfast, and have chips with their rice. They should watch sports rather than take part; lie on the beach rather than climb mountains; and go to theme parks rather than art galleries. They should have arguments, rows, affairs, messy divorces, illegitimate children, complicated families, and unemployed older children.

Why?

Because the managed life of the athlete, top ten percent knowledge worker, or professional, is unimaginably bland. It starts with an education requiring years of deferred gratification, punctuated by moments of binging sensuality. It carries on through more years of deferred gratification, constructive habit-building, and the deliberate management of the self. In order to achieve at that level, such people do not think about winning or losing, nor savour the taste of victory nor feel the sting of defeat. That applies to lawyers, negotiators, and mathematicians as well as athletes. The last scientists to experience a hit of exhilaration at their discovery were likely Crick and Watson.

At the top levels, the concern is with analysis, method, practice, rehearsal, fine-tuning, acquiring one more useful technique. Amateurs train to prepare for the competition, professionals compete to identify training needs. For professionals, winning is not about better or best, but about money. The motive for participation for the top-end performer is not the rewards of success, but the participation in the process. Doing, not achieving, is the goal: the achievements come as a by-product. As does whatever sponsorship and award money is available. Sounds like fun? It doesn’t even sound like work. It sounds like some weird third mode of being that cuts one off from the very things that ordinary people think are the rewards of such efforts.

State control, otherwise known as emotional management, is essential. An ordinary person feels an emotion and lives it. That emotion may pass or linger, it may become a trace element in their base emotional state. They may fight the emotion to deny its existence, or, perhaps with that immortal phrase "I can't believe...", deny that they are responsible for managing the effects of the emotion. A high-performer treats emotions like weather: emotions are things that happen to them like winds, showers or hot weather. Feel it, acknowledge it, take action and move on. When it rains, find shelter. If someone steals their car, they call the insurance company. If their children are hurt, well, then play injured, like everyone else does.

The constant self-management required, much greater now than it was even fifty years ago, is easier, if not even only possible in the first place, if one simply never does anything remotely at variance from mainstream or regulatory expectations, and so if one creates a life and state of mind that does not provide chances to do something the regulators, official or unofficial, might censure. Everyone one meets and everything one does is vetted as a potential PR-disaster, as potential distraction, and only then for potential benefits. Top performers of any kind may tell you and the Press how important their families are to them, but don’t listen to what they say, look at what they do. Training first, diet, sleep and learning second, everything else a long third. And their families know it.

Their families accept it because there’s a gold medal in the sock draw. Ordinary people don’t have gold medals, and their families will not and should not accept it.

Enough I say. The idea that ordinary people can benefit from elite training advice benefits authors, publishers and maybe people who sell the gear they recommend. Not ordinary people.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Longford River Between Hanworth Air Park and the A316




The Longford River runs through a culvert across most of my local Air Park, and re-appears near the road bridge (top photograph). On a whim a few Sundays ago, I crossed the road, found there was a path on the other side, and followed it. It's not bad, given that there's an industrial estate on one side (the warehouse) and a council estate on the other (second from last photo). When the weather is as glorious as it was that day, it's an okay walk, but it must be grim when it's grey. The last photograph is the A316 looking towards Twickenham. I have lived in the area for *cough* years, and I think that Sunday was the first I'd ever stood on that bridge.

You can read all about the Longford River here.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Bank of China


My Talk-Talk broadband service went to pieces when it rained Wednesday and Thursday. It's not too stable if it gets cold either. Do you think that might be because the copper into my house has not been changed since I moved in thirty years ago? And it was old then. Insulation goes, moisture or water gets into connections at the pole... all sorts of things. And Talk-Talk wonder why I won't upgrade and watch TV over their service. Which is copper all the way from the local exchange.

And of course the weather was awful. I took the week off.

God hates me.

Monday, 15 May 2017

The Air Park in Spring


You wouldn't know it has council flats on one side, a municipal baths and the A312 on another, a light industrial estate on the third and some flats and my little estate on the fourth. It's not Royal, like Bushy or Richmond Parks, but it is about a hundred yards from my front door. It's been a good Spring.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

The Red Pill Reddit and The Invisible Committee

I see that the Red Pill reddit intends to change direction
Our sexual strategy focus has been important at freeing minds from our anti-male culture, saving lives and teaching men to game, lift, and get laid. But we have completely ignored the rest of the hierarchy of needs. Men who have conquered their own demons learn the basics of TRP, and get spit out on the other side. They are still missing the essential components to a fully realized male identity. Men cannot exist as islands. It is camaraderie that we require. It is a tribe that strengthens us, that enables us to pursue the rest of our efforts and missions. Starting families, creating systems, selling products, creating artwork, exploring the galaxy. These are the men history will remember as great. And the way we’ve prescribed the red pill, these men will never be us. Pride, honor, and a sense of duty were the driving forces of the modern man. He contributed to society because that was what was expected of him. In return, government and community supported his marriage and family, and a balance was found.
The answer?
The future is going to be built by those who embrace and build power. The new man is a tribesman who builds his strength by joining with his brothers. It is a network of men who establish a fortified ground on which to build their lives, men who defend that stability from the chaos around them. It is men who know their own interests are best served by the success of the group.
Or to put it another way…
We’re setting out from a point of extreme isolation, of extreme weakness. An insurrectional process must be built from the ground up. Nothing appears less likely than an insurrection, but nothing is more necessary. FIND EACH OTHER. Attach yourself to what you feel to be true. Begin there.
Here’s the Red Pill
The answer to this is to band together. Small geographically centralized groups of friends and family cooperating together in the way they used to. There is no point in trying to change the larger culture to accept us. That is how women handle their problems. Instead we will build ourselves up so that we are not dependent on the good graces of this culture. We will form our own cultures and steady ourselves against the slow descent into a fully feminized world.
and the Invisible Committee
Form communes. Communes come into being when people find each other, get on with each other, and decide on a common path. The commune is perhaps what gets decided at the very moment when we would normally part ways. It’s the joy of an encounter that survives its expected end. It’s what makes us say “we,” and makes that an event. What’s strange isn’t that people who are attuned to each other form communes, but that they remain separated. Why shouldn’t communes proliferate everywhere? In every factory, every street, every village, every school. At long last, the reign of the base committees! Communes that accept being what they are, where they are. And if possible, a multiplicity of communes that will displace the institutions of society: family, school, union, sports club, etc. Communes that aren’t afraid, beyond their specifically political activities, to organize themselves for the material and moral survival of each of their members and of all those around them who remain adrift. Communes that would not define themselves – as collectives tend to do – by what’s inside and what’s outside them, but by the density of the ties at their core. Not by their membership, but by the spirit that animates them.
Plus ca change, plus c'est le meme chose.

The Invisible Committee felt they were surrounded by a dysfunctional economy, propped up by a Police State and an increasingly arbitrary managerial and administrative class. Their solution was to band together, throw spanners into the works, cheat the welfare system and pirate some gas and electric where they could. The Red Pill guys feel they are surrounded by an economy that exploits and despises men, pushes female-centred consumerism and a vapid hedonistic pop-culture. The solution is for "like-minded men" to form groups to resist the forces of the Feminine Imperative.

Both analyses can be right, and are. Both policies can be wrong, and are. This is so often the way. Both analyses assume there was once, and preferably recently, a Golden Age. Here's the Red Pill:
Pride, honor, and a sense of duty were the driving forces of the modern man. He contributed to society because that was what was expected of him. In return, government and community supported his marriage and family, and a balance was found.
Not sure what universe that world was in, but it wasn't this one. If an older male relative tells you that’s how it was, don't ask them the time, because they will lie about that as well.

The Invisible Committee can look back on the immediate post-WW2 period, from about 1950 to 1970. Stable employment, moderate inflation, strong trade unions, governments that owned most of the major utilities, half the world shut up behind and Iron Curtain, controls on personal credit, a large public housing stock, final-salary pensions for the lucky, and no runaway consumerism.

Take a look at some photographs of everyday life in 1963. Let me know if that's how you want to live. No thanks. I was there. Wouldn’t go back.

Mainstream pop-culture has almost always been pretty vacant. Managers and administrators have almost always been barely-competent, arbitrary and inclined to take it out on the workforce. Almost all women have almost always shit-tested, screwed around, complained and moaned. Almost all men have almost always followed sports and let themselves be turned into servants for their wives and children. There are exceptions, and some things improve while others get worse. The theme remains the same, it's the details that change.

The question is not what extra-ordinary people can do, but what ordinary people - me, the Red Pill guys, The Invisible Committee - who don't have charisma, abundant energy, quick intelligence, shrewdness, or any of the other things that separate a future President or Prime Minister from a regular hump. What do ordinary people do?

If we run across an exceptional person going in the direction we want to go, we find some way of getting behind them. Funding will do: there have never been so many ways to do so.

We withdraw our support for anything in the mainstream we don't like. Turn off the damn TV. Stop listening to chart broadcast or streaming radio. Stay away from the big chain retailers, especially if they espouse social justice causes.

Except for medicine, we don't work in the Public sector. If you are, get into the Private sector. Large companies do a metric tonne of virtue-signalling: it doesn't mean they are ridden with SJW's. It means they know the difference between real life and PR. It's the small companies which can't afford to maintain a parallel PR universe, so if they are PC, they are PC for real. Mostly though, small companies can’t afford that nonsense.

WE VOTE! Bush / Gore went down to a few hanging chads. Brexit was a small majority. So was the Presidency of Austria. If you don't vote, you can't complain about the result.

Of course none of this will make the slightest difference to the world around us. The mainstream is too large. There are too many ordinary people. Stop worrying about them. They are doing just fine. They love complaining about their partner, kids, manager, their football team and the price of fish. They love what we see as pointless drama and invented disputes. It’s the very stuff of life to them. Leave them alone.

We focus on making our own lives more pleasant and liveable.

I understand the need for other people. The camaraderie, or “like-minded people”, as it used to be called. The self-improvement / self-respect route is narrow and usually walked alone. Beware, though, of phrases like "fully realized male identity”. That’s a Trojan Horse of a phrase, inside which an unscrupulous guru can smuggle marriage, children, unrecognised self-sacrfice and a whole pallet-load of yo’ grandfather Blue Pill nonsense. Never argue over words. Argue about policies and facts. I don’t care if some guru thinks I’m not a “fully realised man”. I will continue to commend the single life to those men who look at the deep rewards of intimate relationships and wonder why the frack anyone would do that to themselves.

It’s sad that detailed and insightful analysis of the current situation is rarely paired with policies that pack a punch. The reason is that the concerns of the Red Pill, or the Invisible Committee, are minority in the extreme, defined exactly in their opposition to the mainstream. Deep down, the mainstream doesn’t change, it simply adopts the fashions and fads of the time. Sometimes it benefits by doing so, and sometimes, like now, it does not. We can change our own lives, but we can’t change the mainstream. We’re the wrong people. Only Gorbachov could declare perestroika, just as only Nixon could go to China.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Leaving Out The Gin Bottles


Steps of the Caffe Nero across from my gym, early one Saturday morning. I swear I did not pose this. I leave milk bottles out, but clearly the denizens of Soho get a wider range of products delivered by their milkman.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Punjabi National Bank


Another City photograph from last summer. Since the Punjab is a region of India, how can it be the Punjab National Bank? Anyway. I have distractions at the moment, so posting is erratic.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

April 2017 Review

Maintenance month.

I watched a number of car maintenance and driving channels in April, and prompted by Scotty Kilmer telling us that he changed his oil every 6,000 miles and that anyone who didn’t was storing up troubles, I checked the service frequency on the Punto. Uh-huh. I was around 37,500 miles and should be having services every 12,000 miles. So I booked it in a local Fiat dealer and got a full service, with oil changes and other good stuff. This requires driving there at 06:30, leaving the car on the street, taking the slow train to work, and then taking the slow train back, and driving home in the evening. It makes a change, and if you look along the track at the station you could be in the country. My regular station is much less domestic and friendly.

The garage found a bunch of other things - leaking gearbox seal, worn rear shock bushes, a hole in the exhaust and thin front break pads - that I drive away, thought about, called them and said YES to. I’m passing on the new set of tyres for a few more months. I can’t tell you how many pounds lighter I am for all that.

The back porch acquired a vivid green sheen, which I killed with mosskiller. I tackled cleaning the path to my front door, which has been looking grungier as the years have gone by. This is not rocket science: wet the path, pour on diluted cleaner from a watering can with sprinkler head, scrub in with stiff bristle broom, count to a hundred, water again and scrub clean. However, it’s a lot more effort on muscles I don’t use in the gym. Lower back. Gardening is hell on the lower back.

My brown garden waste bin from Hounslow Council arrived within days of me applying for it at the start of the month - I was expecting it in mid-May - and I spent the first two shots getting rid of lawn cuttings and other stuff from months ago. This week they are taking away some plant trimmings and more grass cuttings. I’m far more motivated to do an hour’s hard labour with shears and trimmers when I can dump it all in the bin and not have to drive to the Tip. This is as big a result as buying your own washing machine and never going to the launderette ever again.

Talking of launderettes, I read a book about sleeping, and it prompted me to try cleaning my duvet and pillows. These are always washed, even if you take them to a Dry Cleaner. I took one of my duvet+pillow sets to the local launderette for a service wash, and while they got the duvet right, I had to air out wone of the pillows and dry out the other one with heaters and radiators. Not going back again, but the idea is a good one. Except, it isn’t cheap. Unless you have expensive Siberian goose-down pillows, it may be cheaper simply to replace them. In cost terms, two washes = one new feather duvet.

And yes, I did the thing with the mattress and a vacuum cleaner - I have a Dyson V6 with an animal-hair brush head - and it didn’t pick up a darn thing. But then I use a mattress cover. I washed the newer one and replaced the worn one, requiring a trip into John Lewis in Kingston, something I usually try to avoid as much as possible.

And as described elsewhere, I got my little Asus back working well again. Curse Windows Update.

So that was all the exciting stuff.

Sis and I just squeezed in a supper, at Native in Neal’s Yard. The food was good, but the atmosphere was a little too casual. Quite where they found carrots that small I have no idea. I had a trip to Gulu Gulu after the gym on Payday Friday. Oh yes. I know how to live it up!

No movies. None. I finished off Angel S4.

I read Nick Littlehale’s Sleep: The Myth of 8 Hours, and I thought it had a lot of good ideas. I have definitely switched over to thinking of sleep in 90-minute (ish) cycles. Also David Ley’s The Myth of Sex Addiction, Alex Reinhart’s Statistics Done Wrong, Juan Pablo Villalobos’ I’ll Sell You A Dog, and Thomas Oliveri’s anthology Geek Art, and I finally finished Michael Rush’s textbook on Video Art.

Maintenance. Does anybody really budget for it?

But I like getting maintenance done. And I don’t mind paying for it. Which doesn’t mean I rush about finding stuff to do, but I don’t grudge it when I have to do it. It’s a form of looking after myself. It lets me know I’m not letting everything slide.

And over Easter, I ate my way through a Tre Marie Columba from Lina Stores.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Dear Captain Capitalism, Men Don't Demand Female Beauty

Aaron Clarey, aka, Captain Capitalism, is one of the smarter men out there. But he has a blind spot. Here it is again:
I have said it before, and I'll say it again, and the reason I'll do so is because it's true, but the most valuable commodity in the world is not oil or gold, silver or diamonds, copper or plutonium. The most valuable commodity in the world is female youth and beauty. And the reason why is very simple. Because it's true. No other commodity in the world is in as high of demand as female youth and beauty. And the reason why is that half the world's population (they would be men) demand it. And not only do they demand it, they demand it highly. They demand it so much that they built civilization to afford it win it over, so much so to the point we could say nearly all of human civilization and global historical GDP was created to get it.
Ummm. Nope.

Female beauty isn’t a commodity. We can use a commodity to create something of value: as wheat is used to create flour is used to create bread. Female beauty cannot be used to create anything. It has value to the woman insofar as she can use it to manipulate and gain advantages from others, but for anyone who is not having sex with her, her beauty has value in the way that art has value. People who say that art is a commodity are trolling you, not making a serious point.

Even for pimps, madams and hookers, female beauty is not a commodity. The commodity is sex. Beauty is a competitive advantage, a unique selling point.

For another thing, men do not demand female beauty. Don’t listen to what men say, look at what men do. They settle for… well, by definition, in a country where over half the women (and men) are overweight, most of them have to settle for Four and below. Sixes may be sexy and attractive, but they are not beautiful. Beautiful is above the Pretty Line, and that's a very small proportion of the 18-40 population. Three per cent or less, and in some places, it's zero per cent. And yet the guys line up to court and marry overweight, unattractive women. Lenny Bruce got it right: "You put guys on a desert island, they’ll do it to mud!"


Men don't demand youthful beauty. They fantasise about it. They have the same fantasy about Ferraris, holidays on some Pacific archipelago, getting a Knighthood, seven-figure bonuses, or any other form of fame, fortune and recognition. All these are unavailable to them, and any idea they could have any of it is a fantasy.

As the regular man grows older, the fantasy fades and he accepts what he can get. Until she divorces him, the boss sacks him, and the cost of everything goes through the roof while his salary stays the same. At that point he discovers that what he thought he was getting was as much a fantasy as dating Gigi Hadid.

What about the men who don't accept what they can get? They don't get into long-term relationships, and they sure as heck don't get married. We bachelors enjoy women's company from time to time, but she needs to meet our minimum standards for the time period involved in the interaction. (This is proportional to her hotness, logarithmically proportional to her ability to maintain a reasonable conversation, and inversely proportional to the sum of the work required to entertain and / or to to seduce her. This means that unavailable smart hotties don’t get lots of time, which makes sense, as it’s all wasted, since she’s not going to have sex with us. But I digress.)

The good Captain doesn't understand what motivates men. Neither does Rollo, who makes the same mistake. For the majority of men, women are not a reward, a status symbol, a source of validation, or a goal. They are an activity with costs and benefits, a resource with uses and hinderances. This is not an explicit calculation, by the way, it's instinctive, it's the immediate sensation of "Nah" or "Yea" when someone suggests something: we can invent reasons afterwards, but none have anything to do with that immediate reaction. It's probably a simple algorithm: we avoid the stuff that was tedious last time, and we do the stuff that was rewarding last time. Hence that overwhelming feeling that in all human affairs, you're only as good as your last (enter activity here).

The women I see, day in and out, on and in the trains, pavements, offices and shops of London don't inspire me to do anything. And I'm sure they feel the same way about my grey-haired ass. There's a brief moment in our lives when men and women matter to each other, for reasons that make no sense ten years after, and then it sinks into indifference, so we can get on with inventing gadgets, discovering medicines, building bridges and castles and sewers, solving mathematical problems, creating art, and all that other good stuff that life is really about. Babies are a by-product. Boeing 747's are the real product. Life is about business.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Things You Don't Realise They Do For The London Marathon No38 - Runner's Clothes.

My walk back to the District Line takes me through St James's Park, unless the weather is horrible or I'm feeling especially knackered. This morning, something seemed to be going on, because there were policemen everywhere and people wearing jackets, and seemingly the London Marathon was coming through St James' Park to end at Buckingham Palace. Didn't it used to end at Westminster Bridge? Then I caught sight of this...


What is going on here? I asked a friendly person with an official jacket. All those plastic bags are the runner's clothes and other equipment. All bagged up and numbered, to be collected on finishing. The things organisers have to arrange. If you had asked me, I would have said that the runners turned up at Greenwich in their running gear, and were met at Westminster by friends and family with coats and drinks. On further reflection, I would have realised that was silly, and that yes, runners would turn up in coats, tracks suits and with stuff to wear on the way home. Also food, probably. Which they couldn't leave in Greenwich.

There were a LOT of these trucks.


The front runners were arriving as I was trying to get to St James's station. What surprised me was the size of the gaps between the front runners. There might be four in one little bunch, then a thirty-second gap to a single runner, then a twenty second gap to a pair pacing each other... it wasn't a steady stream, nor a large crowd, as I suppose would have appeared an hour or so later. The elite runners really are running each in their own bubble: high performance is not social.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

1892


Obligatory photograph of somewhere in Soho, with a backdated posting time, to preserve the illusion that I didn't lose track of the time over the Easter break, and don't have anything to say about much at the moment.

Monday, 17 April 2017

2017 London Restaurant Visit List

Avid readers will know that Sis and I like to eat out once a month, though we didn’t do too much of that last year because I had braces and eating was sometimes painful and always awkward. And then came Winter and Colds. This year I have my teeth back, and it’s April, and we want to do it properly this year.

There are two fixed points in our schedule. A summer trip up the Kingsland Road to a Vietnamese place - this is as much for the atmosphere and summer evening as the excellent food; and Rules  in the Game season, when at least one of us goes for the roast Bambi. Rules usually ends the supper season for us, as after that the weather gets cold and December fills restaurants with India and Thomas having their Christmas party.

We started doing this a long while ago, and is it just me, or have the better places got really pricey, and the reasonable places compromised slightly on ingredients? I assume the relentless upward march of London rents is one reason, but I suspect that those with money have quite a lot of money and can afford the higher prices, which serve as much to keep people like us out. There are dozens of high-quality small-exquisite-portions-on-white-plates places with equally exquisite prices, and chains outlets by the score, but no so many in the middle anymore.

Sis is tired of the lamb-shank-brasseries: the places that do well-cooked food, but the menu is steak, chicken, lamb-shank, liver, and a white fish. I’ll happily eat at somewhere like that before a show at Sadlers Wells, but if the food is the point, there’s no point in food like that unless the location is interesting.

Interesting location gives the Oxo Tower a pass, because the menu  is fairly ordinary. Maybe one weekend. Same for the River Cafe which would otherwise fail the lamb-shank test.

A lot of the places at the top the Time Out 100 guide seem to have a) long queues and b) long waiting lists, so Barrafina, Time Out’s #1 is out. So for that matter is the Ivory (Sis and I aren’t famous enough). However, #2 Counter Culture in Clapham sounds interesting, as does #4 Som Saa in Spitalfields, and #5 Hoppers in Soho. I have seen the queues outside #7 Bao and, no. Just. No. On the other hand, it would be nice to go to Tapas Brindisa on Broadwick Street, about fifty yards from Bao. I’ve eaten there before, but not with a full set of choppers.

Sis wants to go back to The Providores, which we went to in December 2012 (!), and I want to go back to Gauthier, which we visited in January 2012. She’s also suggested the Merchant’s Tavern in Spitalfields, which I do want to go to.

So here’s a list:

The Providores, Marylebone High Street

Gauthier, Soho

Merchant’s Tavern, Spitalfields

Counter Culture, Clapham (seats at the counter)

Som Saa, Spitalfields

Hoppers, Soho

Tapas Brindisa, Soho

Native, Covent Garden

Oklava, Shoreditch

Rules, Covent Garden

Tay Do, Kingsland Road

Eneko, Aldwych

The Shed, Notting Hill

The Holborn Dining Room, Holborn,

Gymkhana, Mayfair

Pizzaro, Bermondsey

Plus we have to consider The Ledbury, and then not organise it. Again. The Ledbury takes a lot of organising.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Windows Update Was Sucking The Life From My Netbook

I have mentioned my ASUS Eee PC 1005P Seashell that Amazon tells me I bought more than five years ago. It has the Atom N540 processor with 1.66GHz and a maximum of 2GB of RAM, which I have. It has Windows 7, and while it was okay when I bought it, running anything on it recently has been painful. The processor is too slow even for a modern full-weight Linux distro, and I was about to abandon the thing when I ran across a review of Linux Lite, a stripped-down Ubuntu version.

Oops! The minimum screen requirement is 1024x600, while Linux Lite needs a minimum of 1024x768. I went looking for another Linux distro, and though Lubuntu might have done the trick, I've just lost that hobbyist drive to mess around with installing operating systems. Using Macs will do that: the darn thing does just work so well that I'm not tempted to go poking around in the underlying UNIX to sped it up a bit, so I'm out of a) practice with hobbyist OS tweaking, and b) don't see why I should do it because MS or Apple or Canonical or whoever should just build the frikkin' thing right in the first place. But I really don't want to give up on the Asus - I'm cheap like that.

So I started it up, called Program Manager and looked at the CPU performance. 50% when I wasn't doing anything? WTF? Looking through the processes, there was a svchost.exe hammering away when my hands were not on the keyboard. So asked Google questions like "Why is svchost taking so much CPU" and similar, and back came a number of sites, which I read, did the bit where you can show the processes a service is running - highlight the service, right-click, Show Processes. Scroll, scroll, hah! It's Windows Update isn't it? Of course it is. I set Windows Update to Manual, ignored the warnings about my bank accounts being vulnerable, re-booted and... Yea! Now running Evernote with tiny CPU usage. Which is the way I've always heard it should be.

I've also set Dropbox to manual, although it seems to start anyway at boot-up, then read its settings, see it's not wanted, and shuts down. Running, it takes around 100MB (Wha! How?) and I only have 2GB of RAM, of which, as I write, I need 715MB for Windows 7 and Evernote. I'm not doing a lot of Dropbox-y-things at the moment. When I do, I'll take the RAM hit.

So yes, my poor Asus was being choked by a virus called Windows Update. Now look, I have more respect for Microsoft that many people with Macs. But to insist that Windows Update be live all the time, and then have it hog half the CPU cycles of a 1.66GHz Atom is just bad and / or lazy engineering. I'm going to check out what it does on Win 10 next.

So now I have my Asus back. You Tube loads and plays in a snap. Windows Media Player is updating itself off my NAS as I type. And I still have spare CPU cycles. Result.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Reasoning Logically, Being Rational and Thinking Scientifically

I stumbled across this short discussion between Neil de Grasse Tyson and Richard Dawkins - names which would usually would send me heading for a Scotty Kilmer car maintenance clip - and at one point Tyson says “[We] must have a great challenge before us to think rationally, logically, scientifically” as if the three were the same, or at least,very similar.



Except these are three very, very different things.

Reasoning logically has a narrow and a broad sense: the narrow meaning is using valid rules of inference to deduce one statement from others; the broader one is conducting an argument in which no two of your assertions contradict each other. The broad interpretation lets you use the full range of informal argument and rhetorical devices. The narrow one is for mathematicians and logicians constructing formal proofs. Most people reason logically in the second sense.

Being rational is not a way of arguing or thinking, but an attitude towards one’e beliefs. The dominant theory of rationality was confirmationism: my belief in something is rational if I have evidence for its truth. Of course fanatics can have evidence for their beliefs, and it really shifts the argument to what constitutes evidence. Try having a discussion with a religious fundamentalist who maintains that there is something called “spiritual evidence” for their bigoted beliefs. Or stand outside on a sunny day and tell me the sun is not moving across the sky: who you going to believe: Copernicus or your lying eyes? So in the 1930’s Karl Popper proposed a falsificationist account of rationality: my belief in something is rational if I am prepared to state the circumstances under which I would abandon that belief. Instant banishment of fanatics, ideologists, psycho-analysts, vulgar evolutionists and a classroom of others to the Naughty Step. The nice thing about this is that anyone putting forward a silly condition - such as an angel coming to the House of Commons and announcing that we should abandon our belief in abortion - tends to sound silly of their own accord.

Thinking scientifically is a process that aimed at finding explanations of empirical phenomena by using previously established explanations, deductive logical reasoning and mathematics, testing those explanations by experiment, and abandoning at least one of the inputs to the test if the experiment fails. (Notice that one of those inputs is: "the experimental result was calculated or measured correctly”. Experimenters can make mistakes as well.) What would non-scientific thinking look like? Usually it doesn’t refer to previous results. It has Gods that just do stuff with no explanation as to why they didn’t do something else. Or else it seems to be able to explain everything, no matter what happens. But above all, pseudo-science and myth are definitive and final. Science is never final and never definitive (except possibly in a grant proposal), it’s a process that aims to improve our understanding of the world, while recognising that at any time, something may come along that is inconsistent with what we think we know, yet gives better results.

Finally, how a scientist finds the explanations, or how a mathematician finds their proof, and where and how they get their ideas, is entirely up to them. They don’t have to follow rules or templates, though there are rules and templates to follow, they just have to be right.

A little later Tyson says that people who think irrationally “get along just fine in life, they live long lives…”. I get the point he’s making, but it applies as long as they don’t reason irrationally about buses, cholera, bullets, stepping out of fifth-floor windows, hungry tigers, drinking poison and other such stuff. Being dumb about the composition of the outer planets is fine, being dumb about running across busy roads is not.

But after that Tyson suggests that Van Gogh is “illogical” for painting Starry Night, and Dawkins suggests that the instincts humans allegedly developed on the savannah for surviving back in the day are also “illogical”. It’s at this point I leave them to it, because jeez! do people even still think like that?

Just because Van Gogh didn’t paint like a Victorian academician doesn’t make his art crazy, although you’re welcome to use words as you want, and if you think Starry Night is crazy, then I’d suggest to you that some good art is crazy. And as for tested survival instincts being “illogical”, well, same thing, if that’s how you want to use the words, then some “illogical” beliefs or behaviours are useful and prudent. As in all things, you do what works.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Crossing Kew Bridge


Really, I take photographs of the colour blue.

Monday, 3 April 2017

March 2017 Review

I finished the month with the Spring Cold. In the middle of these colds, I wonder if I will ever be well again. Will I be able to walk more than twenty yards without getting breathless? Will I be able to focus enough to do any work, even from home? Will I ever have an uninterrupted night's sleep again, and will that sleep ever be free of fever-driven obsessive imagery and stories? Intellectually I know it will all be over in a few days, that doesn't help me get through it now. I'm used to being clear-headed and physically on form, unlike the rest of you, who have hangovers, mysterious aches, low days caused by eating curries after too much lager, and dodgy sleep from having a row with your partner, or from the kids teething. None of that happens to me, so when anything breaks my serene routine, it's Literally. The. Worst.

I got in a training session in on the last Saturday of the month, and that was it.

I saw Personal Shopper at the Curzon Mayfair, and John Wick 2 at my local Cineworld. I went through half of Angel S4 at a clip, and then stopped. I will carry on, but I wasn’t in the mood.

I read James Salter’s The Hunters, Somerset Maugham’s The Merry-Go-Round, Wells Towers’ Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned, David Szalay’s London and The South-East, and Svetlana Alpers’ The Vexations of Art. I can commend the first three, but Szalay's novel left me feeling like I needed a shower. Alpers' book on Velasquez is in that style of art commentary which mixes interesting history with that weird art theory that finds great epistemological significance in the fact that the painter stands in front of the canvas to paint.

Sis and I had her birthday supper at Picture, because we like it there, and I had an early supper at the Argentinian restaurant in Richmond with another friend of Bill and Bob. Between my teeth and the winter, this is the first time I've been eating out socially. I stopped by Gulu Gulu for their unique take on sushi the Thursday before The Cold.

I went to a delightfully arcane City ceremony called a "Wardmoot" in the Parish Hall of St Botolph's Without Bishopsgate. It's where the candidates for the Council of the Ward of Bishopsgate are elected and confirmed in their position. People who work in the City get to vote for Councilmen as well as the very few residents in the Ward. Most of the people there were officials and candidates, including a Beadle who shouted Oyez Oyez Oyez and called on us to attend, shut up and listen. I thought one of the people wandering about in fancy gowns looked familiar, to the point where I thought "That's Baroness Scotland", and then when I got the Agenda, there it was. Patricia "The Overspender" Scotland is the Alderman for the Bishopsgate Ward. The ceremony was full of people saying admiring things about each other, as often happens at these ceremonial events. There are six councilmen, and had been IIRC nine or ten candidates in February. Then four dropped out and there was no need for anyone to vote for anyone. That's democracy for you. The next one is in four years' time, when I might not be working, so I'm glad I had that little glimpse of City ceremonial arcana.

And was I the only person to spot a distant but important resemblence between Sir Tim Barrow



and Sir Thomas Beaufort as portrayed by the mighty Brian Blessed in Kenneth Branagh’s Henry V?

(Sir Thomas is on the left)

 I know that Sir Tim was only delivering a letter to a guy he saw on a fairly regular basis, but though it looked like this when he handed it over



what was really going on was this


History. Lived through again.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Using Mylio Reviewing Photographs: A Replacement for iPhoto

Photographs are rarely taken at random. There's usually some common theme - a wedding, or a rainy evening in Soho - that was the reason we took the photographs and which remember independently of the photographs. Laying all the images where we can see them at once helps us compare the images with that independent memory.

(Rainy evening in Soho: that's how I remember it.)

Which images capture what we felt, that inspired us to take the pictures? The side-by-side, contact-sheet view lets the eye compare-and-contrast (the eye has a mind of its own) and lets us appreciate the good and bad features of each image. This simply doesn't happen when we can only look at one image at a time.

By mass acclaim, the best program in which to look at lots of your photos side by side at the same time was iPhoto. Then Apple replaced it with the space hog that is Photos, a program so egregiously designed to make you buy more outrageously-priced memory from Apple that it ought to be investigated by the EU.

The best image-file manipulator and viewer, by so far it's not even a competition, is IrfanView. That's for only Windows, and if you have a lot of image files it's so good it justifies having a mid-spec Windows machine just to make use of it when you need it. Because the alternative is the command-line. As a compare-and-contraster, it doesn't quite do it for me: the images don't jump out at me they way they did in iPhotos.

Anyway, I digress. Lacking iPhoto, what do we have? For something so fundamental to the process of photography, surprisingly little. Picasa isn't bad at it and shows individual photos kinda okay; Sequential makes my images look way better than Picasa does, but the film-strip view at the side doesn't quite do the same job as the contact sheet; Photos looks nice, but space; and I'm going to experiment with Mylio, especially since the low-end version is free. The one thing it seems to do best, synchronising image collections across devices, is the one thing I don't really need, but it's optional.

Mostly I take pictures, post or print the better ones and let the rest gather digital dust. I have a bunch of old 35mm film pictures from way back in the day that I should scan. I'm not really into categorising pictures or anything else. For the professional selling work through sites offering keyword search, tagging makes a lot of sense. I don't really do tagging and categorising. I might if I had 250,000 images in my catalogue, but I don't.

I got a cold at the weekend, and that disabled my doubt-and-caution mechanism, so I downloaded DxO Perspective and Mylio, and found out how to use Airdrop all in one session.

Mylio does generate “previews and thumbnails”, and it took about ten-fifteen minutes to do it for my collection of 3,000 or so files. It offers a white or black background, and I’m a fan of black backgrounds at the moment (it should be ISO 3664:2009 colour neutral grey N8, but, you know, I live in white rooms so it’s a wonder I’m able to see colours at all for all the dazzling reflections from the white paint). It does not create its own space-hogging database, but works from the files in your folder structure, and lets you see what’s in the folders you told it to import. It lets you create albums, which I have a limited use for, and it has a calendar view.

If there is one thing that will shame me into taking more photos it’s that calendar view. How can I have let entire months go by without taking any pictures? (Answer, by the way, was that it was too darn cold to hang around taking snapshots. And the weather was horrible and the skies were grey. Also, that I move in a rut, a pleasant rut, but a rut nonetheless.)

(Guilt-inducing calendar view: I have to do more than this!)

Mylio also has some basic cropping-colour-contrast-etc controls with a bunch of reasonable pre-sets. I spent a while playing with these - because that’s what Real Artists do when they get some new tech. So between Mylio + DxO on the Mac and Photos + SKRWT on iOS, I think I have what I want for the while.

And it's is available for Windows and iOS.

PS: So I thought I had more photos that this, and it turns out I do. Something must have gone awry when I thought I copied my collection from the NAS to my Air. A lot is missing. Mylio provides an option to catalogue but not import files on an external drive, but guess what? It doesn't treat NAS as "external", so it copies the files into a directory the Air's HDD. On the plus side, if you mess around with where you put that directory, it keeps track of the changes. Importing a bunch of missing folders, it identified duplicate files and only added the missing ones.

By the time I'd finished, I had 12GB of images, with a 3GB database of previews and thumbnails. As I understand it, that database, or a smaller version, is what lives on your other devices, and I'm not sure I want that on my 16GB iPhone SE. It's also making me think about how big I want those image files, and if I want what's on my Air to be a selection rather than the full warehouse.

None of these problems happened when we had film, prints and shoe-boxes. Technology solves one bunch of problems and creates others.

(I knew I hadn't been that lazy!)

Monday, 27 March 2017

Perspectve Correction, iPhone SE and DxO Perspective

I upgraded to an iPhone SE recently and I use it to take photographs. I take landscape / cityscape photographs, which means I’m doing so from odd angles and often with a tilted phone. The camera is an f2.2 with 29mm lens (which means: it has the same optics as a 29mm lens would on a 35mm film camera) and that gives horrible perspective distortion. This goes away if I zoom in on details, or take pictures of a scene which is “flat”, but shoot down a narrow road and it’s going to look awful. Like this:


Whereas I want it to look something like this

 

That takes software, and software costs money. Real Photographers are used to paying hundreds or even thousands of pounds on lenses and camera bodies (the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV body alone is £3,000 and high-quality lenses go for £1,000). £120 a year for Lightroom and Photoshop, or £105 for the Lightroom 6 download is nothing. I'm not a Real Photographer: for me, software competes with books, movies and CDs. Which is how we consumers do price comparison, but sometimes we miss the point.

My iPhone SE will have cost me a few hundred pounds after the 24-month contract is over. To get the best out of my phone and hence that money, I need to spend a small-ish - compared to the cost of the phone - amount on perspective-correcting software. And I will take more pictures, which is the point of have a camera in my pocket all the time.

So now, look!, I've convinced myself to shell out. I am not tempted to do image-editing on my iPhone. Photos offers basic editing facilities already, and even a quick experiment convinces me that my eyes are no longer young enough to be reliable enough to make those kinds of adjustments. So I’m only going to do stuff on the Mac, or maybe the iPad.

For reasons that have to do with spontenaity, I have SKRWT on my iPad. SKRWT is as good as the reviews say it is. I can transfer pictures to it from my phone using Air Drop. Which is every bit as easy to use as it says it is. So I could do my picture editing on the iPad, and it gives me as large an image as I get from Picasa on the Mac Air. (Just pretend I never said Picasa.)

Now for the Mac Air. SKRWT is iOS-only, but there's something that looks very similar, from DxO Perspective. It gets good reviews, so I installed that to handle the images that are already on the Mac.

This is what DxO can do. Here’s an original…



and here’s a correction using the rectangle tool and some cropping


That was the photograph I wanted. To get that au naturel, I would have needed a medium-format camera, as even a 35mm full-frame / film would not have let me get the whole frontage in at that distance.

I’m sold.

Monday, 20 March 2017

Female Privilege: It's Not About The Crazy, Not The Babies

I have read the following sentiment once too often:
the reality is that female privilege is the incessant undercurrent of culture, derived from the fundamental premise that governs all social organization and policy: women are more reproductively valuable than are men.
I’m not sure if Heartiste is saying only that, right or wrong, American society has that fundamental premise, or, that societies are rightly governed by that fundamental premise. So I will give two answers.

First, if American social organisation and policy is driven by “mo’ babies”, the USA is screwed. As screwed as any country importing warm bodies with no skills because population decline.

Second, here’s why. Reproduction is not the valuable activity: reproduction just gives you babies. Babies are raw material, not the finished product. The valuable finished product is a contributing, co-operative and considerate adult member of the society and the economy. Any idiot can produce babies, and most do, but it takes real skill, and both parents, to raise a decent young adult, especially in post-industrial societies where long periods of education are needed for the children to even begin to have the skills needed to be productive. Only warriors can train warriors, only hunters can train hunters, only fishermen can train fishermen. The last thing a small society needs is a large bunch of growing boy children without enough men to train them to be men. Fertility is like a lot of things: it’s only a good thing if it’s kept between limits. Unrestricted baby-making is a liability. Valuing women as baby-makers isn’t privileging them, it’s sensible resource-husbandry, along with keeping the cows watered.

Female privilege is a thing. However, it has nothing to do with babies. It has to do with there being a critical mass of psychiatrically damaged women and women who decide to act crazy to get their way. One feminist harridan in a lecture theatre can be stared down: five can wreck the whole proceeding. And once it becomes clear that crazy gets its way, deliberate displays of insincere crazy becomes one more weapon in the armoury.

I live in England, and while there’s a healthy tradition of, um, bawdy behaviour amongst English women that makes Saturday nights worth avoiding, not so many of them are actually crazy. Britain has its dysfunctionals, oestrogen-dominants, adventuresses, bitter girls, shrews, princesses, psychopaths and other misfits, who behave badly a lot of the time. There are so few of them that they can be dismissed as “weirdos and head-cases”, kept out of organisations where important work is done by sane people, and the average clueless man will have a low probability of meeting one.

Heartiste is in America.

America, land of obesity and medicalised psychiatry, has a proportion of hormone-imbalanced and damaged female souls that, to go by the obesity and DSM-V stats, and even allowing for extensive co-morbidity, may be as high as one in three. Crazies are going to be almost everywhere in employment, and almost everyone is going to have to deal with one at least once a day. The natural instinct to back off and placate the crazy woman is going to be kicking in on a daily basis. In fact, it may never kick out. In which case, American men are going to be tolerating all sorts of bad behaviour all the time. Crazies use feminism and liberal ideology because it suits their need to bully, confuse and browbeat. America is what happens when a society has a large number of crazy people with the vote. Someone is going to pander to them, and they will in return vote en bloc for anyone who gives them money and feeds their troubled souls. It looks like privilege, but it’s really just one giant freak show.

What Heartiste and many others call “female privilege” is a mixture of three things: a) a bunch of legal privileges in employment law, and some presumptions in Family Law which are designed to stop un-supported mothers and excess babies being a burden on the taxpayer; b) the instinct to back off and placate the crazy woman; c) men tolerating calculated crazy in their personal lives. Female privilege is mostly men putting up with behaviour from women that they would never accept from another man, and women exploiting that to the hilt and half-way up the handle as well.

Nothing to do with babies.