As an Edinburgh southsider who hasn’t ventured down Leith Walk for a while, I’d only seen glimpses of the St James Centre demolition site, so it was quite something to walk past it yesterday, on my way into work after dropping the car off at an auto-electrician. I snapped this quick panorama on my phone (click for bigger).

St James Centre demolition site, Edinburgh, November 2017

Five districts of Edinburgh changed beyond recognition.

16 November 2017 · Comment · UK Culture


My brother was on a business trip to Bilbao last week, so I took a couple of days’ leave and spontaneously flew over to see him. We spent Sunday and most of Monday bar-hopping around the city, drinking cerveza and eating pintxos (the Basque word for tapas pinned to pieces of bread with—in Spanish—pinchos, or long toothpicks), as well as admiring one of the most extraordinary buildings in Europe. Pure pleasure.

It’s a busy week at work and home now, so the photos will have to wait, but here’s a pintxo to be going on with.

Bilbao, 29 October 2017

6 November 2017 · Comment · Travel

Once Were Webloggers

The other day I sorted through some old bookmarks of weblogs I used to follow—a more complete version of the pages of blogs I used to maintain here. Over 80% of them were defunct: archived, with depressingly similar farewell posts; or abandoned, with their most recent posts dating back years; or gone altogether. I filed those into folders marked “Hibernating” and “Missing in Action”. The rest, though, were still varying degrees of active, if not as active as most of us were back in the day. Any blog with a post from the past several months I considered a going concern, which is the least I can do when my own blog has sometimes barely matched that. Not many seem to be posting daily, though (not that I blame them), so even a curated collection of ye finest weblogges is no match for the Skinner-box hit of Twitter.

Several also seem to have got snarled up in Google’s push to deprecate http-served pages (as discussed by Shelley Powers of Burningbird, another old blogging hand who’s still at it). I fear that I’ll have to face that time-suck of site-maintenance soon, too, or see the ’snail sink even further into obscurity.

6 November 2017 · Comment · Net Culture

Divide and Rule

Australia admits more migrants than any other big Western country—but thanks to section 44(i) of our Constitution, many of them aren’t able to run for federal parliament (as mentioned here in August). I posted a few comments to a Metafilter thread about the latest High Court ruling about section 44(i) and dual-citizen MPs, several of whom (most prominently the deputy prime minister) now find themselves excluded from parliament.

Read More · 28 October 2017 · Comment · Politics

Remember Puerto Rico

A few links that stood out of the morass of American despair this month.

Read More · 28 October 2017 · Comment · Politics

Over the Cliff We Go

Brexit talk has been in full swing again this month, and it’s been hard to keep up with the fast-moving indecision surrounding such a dynamic, intractably stalled process. I’ve posted a couple of thoughts to Mefi in recent weeks, excerpted below, and have been collecting links...

Read More · 28 October 2017 · Comment · Politics

Noodly Appendages

How did I miss the Ramen Burger? Here’s how to make your own, plus a selection of miscellaneous links (Trump/Brexit excluded, for the moment).

Read More · 28 October 2017 · Comment · Weblog

The Death of Stalin

As a big Armando Iannucci fan, I was looking forward to The Death of Stalin, and saw it last night. It was an odd experience: I didn’t laugh much, but still thought it an excellent film. I think the fact that it’s Iannucci and that half the cast are recognisable comedians (not only the leads, but people like Justin Edwards in minor roles) lulls us into expecting boffo comedy when really what we have here is, as the tagline has it, terror. It certainly contains comedic moments, but I spent most of the film feeling viscerally terrified of the story and (some of) the characters—which is exactly as it should be.

Read More · 28 October 2017 · Comment · Film

Into the Great Wide Open

We might be getting used to the gathering parade of celebrity deaths, but Tom Petty’s still hit me. For a few years in the late ’80s and early ’90s he was one of my favourite artists, both in his Traveling Wilbury guise and solo. Into the Great Wide Open was one of three CDs I bought on Oxford Street to keep me company at the start of my student year in England, and it’s still my favourite, but I loved Wildflowers, She’s the One, and of course Full Moon Fever, too. (Petty, apparently, hated She’s the One, but for me it’s the last great record of his eight-year peak; I’ve never even seen the movie, but it’s one of my favourite soundtracks.) In later years I kept up with his releases, with the Heartbreakers, Mudcrutch, and solo, but perhaps didn’t listen to them as closely as I should have. Time to go back to all of them.

Read More · 28 October 2017 · Comment · People

Rainbow Connection

As an Australian-at-a-distance distracted by northern hemisphere stuff, I hadn’t fully absorbed the impact of the federal government’s Marriage Law Postal Survey. I mean, I knew it on an intellectual level, but not being surrounded by it day-to-day, it took exposure on social media to feel the full awfulness of it. Malcolm Turnbull has basically been prepared to put thousands of same-sex couples through months of agonising campaigning that strikes at the heart of their identity so that he can duck the responsibilities of power while maximising his chances of maintaining that power.

Read More · 2 October 2017 · 1 Comment · Politics

Hurricane Season

Another batch of links on politics and other miscellany.

Read More · 2 October 2017 · Comment · Weblog

UKIP, Hide Your Lion Eyes

UKIP have revealed their new logo (or, more accurately, the favourite of two options yet to be decided) to immediate derision. The letters reminded me of quite a different animal...

Read More · 29 September 2017 · Comment · Politics

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