Under Pressure

Late last year my webhost suddenly switched from MySQL to MariaDB for its back-end databases, which meant that my aging installation of Movable Type, which had powered this blog for a decade and a half, stopped working. Short of finding a new host, paying a fortune for a newer Pro version of MT, or adding individual posts by hand indefinitely, my best option was to make the switch to WordPress, which I’d tentatively started with a blog project in 2015. I figured I’d switch over in 2020 so that the static archives from before the start of the year could persist unchanged.

Moving the site across has been a complicated process, and isn’t finished yet. I thought I’d keep track of some of the tips and posts I found along the way that made it possible.

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10 February 2020 · 1 Comment · Infotech

Rupa’s Proto-Balearic Bengali Beats

A Metafilter post from a fortnight ago, which went over well.

Despite never having set foot in a nightclub, Rupa Biswas made a Bengali disco album on holiday in Canada in the early 1980s, which sank without trace. Decades later, her son discovered that copies were selling online for hundreds of dollars and that one track in particular had racked up millions of views on YouTube. Now the singer is receiving proceeds from the Numero Group reissue and corresponding with fans around the world.

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4 February 2020 · Music

Keep Pedalling

I said goodbye here to our car when it finally died, so I should really do the same for my bike, a Claud Butler Dolomite hybrid which lasted eighteen and a half years before I finally donated it yesterday to the Bike Station, where it will be repaired and sold on. Over those years I’ve ridden it right around Edinburgh, out over the Forth bridges, from Glasgow to Edinburgh twice with Pedal for Scotland, around the Trossachs, up and down the hills of Glentress, and back and forth to work and the shops and the kids’ school (since my youngest finished nursery I’ve been riding to work every day). It was my seventh bike, after three as a kid and three others as an adult, and lasted by far the longest. Farewell, faithful steed—and welcome, shiny new Pinnacle Cobalt 4.

Bike at Glentress

2 February 2020 · Journal

Backs to the Future

Memories of England in better times, when HMV and Parrot Records were full of Carter USM albums emblazoned with the flag of Europe. I spent one of the happiest nine months of my life studying here as a Masters student, thinking deep thoughts, making good friends, performing onstage. I carried my 35mm camera around at times, taking about a hundred photos of the town over the course of those nine months, another laughably small number compared with what I would have taken in digital. I’ve finally scanned them and sorted them into a gallery for Detail. Take a punt:


1 February 2020 · Memory


I saw in 11 p.m. last night by watching Rocketman. In hindsight, it seems appropriate to have been watching a movie about someone who started out full of talent and promise, grew insanely rich, spent a few years going off the deep end in a coke-fuelled frenzy, and ended up in rehab.

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1 February 2020 · Politics

Not With a Bong But With a Whimper

Rat’s coat, crowskin, crossed staves

A Metafilter post on today’s main event.

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31 January 2020 · 1 Comment · Politics

Not Funny

The death of Terry Jones the other day left me wanting to write everything about what he meant to me as a young fan of comedy, which meant I ended up writing nothing. Here he is talking about his dementia in 2017. What a gift to us all his life and work was.

Commenting on the death of Nicholas Parsons is more manageable, if only because his legacy was more focussed. Growing up in Australia I knew him only from The Goodies, where he was a regular target of jokes—affectionate ones, I realised in hindsight, although they were clearly having a go at a side of him that came across (from a younger man) as smarmy and patronising. After moving to the UK I grew to love listening to him on Just a Minute, and am glad I was able to do so for almost two decades; how extraordinary that that was less than half of his reign on the show.

31 January 2020 · Comedy

Bison Sculpture

As someone who’s taken a few long-haul flights on UAE airlines over the years, this dissection of corporate music is so relatable. It’s the soundtrack of the unskippable intros to inflight movies, and of the corporate ads aimed at business types who are actually flying to Dubai and Abu Dhabi rather than transiting through. His takedown of a study of how pop music is supposedly getting worse is also terrific.

Perfect Pärt (via Mefi).

14,000 year-old bison sculptures in a French cave.

A 97-year-old philosopher faces his own death.

Famous paintings with search and rescue vehicles added to them.

My sophisticated plot projection algorithm is never wrong.

31 January 2020 · Weblog

Kangaroo Ground

A year of talking about climate change.

The search for clean air.

If the Australian Liberal Party approached the First World War like they approach climate change.

A huge spike in one of the most potent greenhouse gases.

UK police list Extinction Rebellion as extremists and include Greenpeace with neo-Nazis on counter-terror lists.

Laurie Garrett on the Wuhan virus.

Australian aboriginals recorded ancient sea rises in 10,000 years of oral history.

Let’s abandon climate targets and maximise climate action.

31 January 2020 · Environment

Under Construction

Some dead-ends in my WordPress theme-hacking attempts left me with one that almost works but misses some crucial post navigation links, which has put me off posting here for a few weeks. (That, and starting a new semester and a new course.) I’ll keep trying, but in the meantime might switch this back to a boring default for a while.

31 January 2020 · 4 Comments · Site News