Something grim rises from Trump’s rally.

Trump wants to be a dictator. It’s not enough just to laugh at him.

Muslims lived in America before Protestantism even existed.

Permafrost N2O levels are twelve times higher than expected.

Antarctic sea ice has fallen precipitously since 2014.

Our fight against fake news is starting to turn the tide.

Notre-Dame came far closer to collapsing than people knew.

Many of the “oldest” people in the world may not be as old as we think.

Critically acclaimed horror film of the 2010s or your Ph.D. program?

It’s okay to be good and not great.

The birth of the semicolon.

The dawn of the Chinese blockbuster.

Mr Olds’ remarkable elevator.

A new clue to the origins of life.

18 August 2019 · Weblog


There was a lot of buzz in Remain circles last week about a Guardian Long Read article on the radicalisation of remain by Daniel Cohen. (I liked Alex Andreou’s take on it.)

Much of the article is reasonably straight reportage of the general landscape of Remain activism, particularly the Twitter side, but the tone is skewed by Cohen’s use of the term “remainist” to make it seem as if hardcore remainers are some sort of extreme fringe. The label “remainer” seems perfectly adequate to me. We’ve had no trouble distinguishing between different types of remainers to date—people have talked about Remain voters versus Remainers, or “hardcore remainers” as the Guardian puts it in the lede of Cohen’s article. “Remainer” means more than just “somebody who voted remain”, because at least some remain voters are now leavers, just as some leave voters are now remainers. It’s also flexible enough to include those who are generally supportive of remaining, through to those who are passionate enough to go on a march, tweet or post to Mefi Brexit threads, through to those who have given up their day jobs to devote themselves to the cause. It’s a broad church, and it isn’t defined by #FBPE.

Read More · 18 August 2019 · Politics

Service Not Included

I was away for a month over the summer, which meant nothing new appearing here, although the trip will yield some more photo galleries eventually. It also meant that a server issue that arose just before I left went unrepaired for weeks. My webhost did something to how it handled Server-Side Includes which meant that any included PHP-driven segments on my pages broke, which affected the category archives on this blog. I couldn’t get to the bottom of it with them, so rather than convert all of my blog pages to PHP and use PHP Includes to achieve the same effect, I tweaked the templates a bit and changed the functionality of some of the archive links. It should all be looking normal now, if slightly different.

18 August 2019 · Site News

Some minor housekeeping: after meaning to for years, I’ve finally added an alternative index to Detail that groups its galleries by region, bringing back some of the functionality of earlier designs.

Read More · 11 July 2019 · Site News

Maps 2

Did I say I was finished with photos for Detail? I forgot about these natural maps from our trip to Shetland six years ago. Now I’m finished.

Read More · 10 July 2019 · Site News

Here Be Castles of Scotland

It’s over five years since the last collection of Scottish castles at Detail, so here are six more, represented in collages compiled from trips over the past few years to Galloway, Glasgow, East Lothian and Perthshire. This gallery brings me up to date with my photos at long last, apart from the unscanned 35mm negatives, although some travel I’ve got planned for the rest of this year will no doubt bring some more.

9 July 2019 · Site News

Window Seat

At the beginning or end of half of the sets of travel photos collected in Detail are a handful of photos from the air, either of countries I’ve visited or places I’ve flown over. Window Seat gathers together over thirty years’ worth, taken first on 35mm film and then on a succession of digital cameras, and in one case on a phone. I haven’t recorded every flight, and some of my most memorable views from the air, like the snaking Thames after dark or the islands of the Pacific, are missing, but there’s enough here to evoke a lifetime’s travel.

Looking back at these now leaves me with some feelings of environmental guilt, and one day when air travel is again out of reach I’ll no doubt look back with nostalgia... but in the meantime, come fly with me.

7 July 2019 · Travel

The State of It

Evidence that the Home Office should be abolished, part XVII: The Home Office have privatised the visa system and made it even less accessible. The Home Office detained a trafficking victim for five months because it insisted he was somebody else.

Evidence that the US is lost, part XVII: The youngest child separated from his family at the US border was 4 months old. America’s new concentration camp system.

How Rupert Murdoch’s empire of influence remade the world.

Canadian permafrost is thawing 70 years early. The reality of melting Greenland sea ice. Antarctica has lost as much sea ice in four years as the Arctic lost in 34. Planes are even worse for the climate than we thought. #ShowYourStripes

Finally, a sad development in a country close to me: Cocaine and meth fuel crime and chaos in Fiji.

2 July 2019 · Politics

Permission Denied

I mentioned a while back that my 2012 iMac’s hard drive finally died, which led to some tricky choices: to replace it altogether, or replace the hard drive with an SSD, or with another hard drive (not recommended nowadays), or a fusion drive where the system treats a dual SSD and HD as a single drive, or—my eventual choice—a 480GB SSD and a 4TB hard drive installed as separate drives, with system and everyday files on the former and archival files on the latter. That way I got the full speed boost of running my system and apps on an SSD, with the space for archives of a honking great hard-disk. I got some extra memory installed while I was at it, so that the revamped Mac would last me at least a few more years and save having to spend two grand on a replacement.

Everything went fine, and I had a recent enough backup that I lost no files worth worrying about, although there were the usual software updates after the transition to macOS Mojave. But in copying stuff over from my backup, I made a couple of mistakes that led to some month-long headaches. This post serves as warning and solution, if you’re ever in the same boat.

Read More · 1 July 2019 · Infotech

Local Views

Last year I finally started doing justice to a large backlog of photographs intended for Detail, chipping away at sorting, resizing and arranging them into galleries. I’m now near the end of that process, with only a couple more to go. Here are some featuring my everyday surrounds, with photos taken in and around Edinburgh.

Read More · 25 June 2019 · Site News

Out West

The next batch of galleries at Detail looks closer to home, recording trips to the west of Scotland going back over a decade. It’s a beautiful part of the country, with plenty of out-of-the-way places little-known to tourists.

Read More · 25 June 2019 · Travel

Rust in Peace

We lived in Edinburgh for nine years without a car, but when our son came along the merits of having one again became hard to resist, so in June 2010 we bought a second-hand 2002 Ford Focus.

Read More · 17 June 2019 · Journal

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