Conspicuous Consumption II: Covid Edition

Time for a quick update on listening and viewing since part one.

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31 March 2020 · 1 Comment · Film


More COVID-19 limericks to pass the idle springtime hours.

The symptoms of Covid are vague: / It may or may not bring an ague, / And your shortness of breath / Could mean imminent death. / It's a 21st-century plague.

My girlfriend, as long as I've known 'er, / Has been happiest being a loner. / Now the whole of the nation / Is in self-isolation, / She's desolate: my, my, Corona.

The uncommon girl’s name Corona is set to become even less common because of SARS-CoV-2. In recent weeks I’ve seen or heard the coronavirus being called Corona, the Corona, the Rona, and Covid, with or without the capitals.

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28 March 2020 · Events

Two Metres Apart

Queue at Sainsbury's
Sainsbury’s Murrayfield, Edinburgh, Friday 27 March 2020

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28 March 2020 · Events

Remain Indoors

Some coronavirus links from the last week, for anyone who’s been living in a cave (and if that’s you, well done on being a model of self-isolation).

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23 March 2020 · Events

Walruses Can Whistle

Songbirds island-hopped their way from Australia to colonise the world.

A journey to the end of time.

Cooking with wool.

Walruses can whistle.

23 March 2020 · Weblog

Empty Shelves

Empty Shelves
Tesco Hermiston Gait, Edinburgh, Monday 16 March 2020

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17 March 2020 · Events

Looking for the Remote

A rare digression into talking here about the day job.

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17 March 2020 · 1 Comment · Events

A Murder of Poesy

Okay, so perhaps the impulse to make light of COVID-19 hasn’t left me yet…

Nearly twenty young crows could be seen / Gathered tightly en masse on the green. / Out of breath, and in shock, / An old crow told the flock, / 'Keep your distance, you corvid nineteen!'

(It’s not actually a murder of crows.)

13 March 2020 · Events

All Shook Up

There are reports today that Tom Hanks and his wife have contracted coronavirus on the Gold Coast in Australia, where he was filming a movie about Elvis Presley. How distressing for them both, and what a rotten break for a fine actor. But an Elvis movie… well, it’s hard not to enjoy a moment of black humour before the shutters come down, because it turns out there’s an Elvis song for every COVID-19 mood.

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12 March 2020 · Events

Too Spiky

A fifteen-minute writing exercise closes the gender gap in university-level physics.

U.S. national park illustrations based on their worst reviews. In a similar vein, my old upstairs neighbour (and Australia’s best editorial cartoonist) has illustrated Australian national parks after the bushfires. Poor Depot Beach.

A brief history of singular “they”.

11 March 2020 · Weblog

Large, Friendly Letters

In January and February I linked to advice from Laurie Garrett and Ian Mackay on preparing for the coronavirus now known as COVID-19†. After bubbling under the surface of the main news headlines in the UK for weeks, last week it leapt to the forefront; it was pretty hard to downplay the shutdown of northern Italy and now the whole of it. I’d not posted about it here (apart from those links) because I’m no more an expert than anyone else, but as of this week J. is part of UK efforts to test for the disease—on the coordination side rather than in the lab—and not much seems more important than that. We’re so proud of her.

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11 March 2020 · Events

Castle Terrace

Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh, 7 March 2020

Such a great place to photograph Edinburgh Castle from. But yes, there really is a car park in the way.

11 March 2020 · UK Culture

The Thaw

It hasn’t been much of a winter for snow in Edinburgh, which seems to have missed most of it this year; we had some cold days and a few flurries, but nothing that settled for long. Now the weather is shifting and the blooms are out, and that seems to be that.

Here are some photos of the start of the year around Edinburgh.

5 March 2020 · Journal


We went away for a few days in the kids’ February term break, staying on a small farm in Warenton in Northumberland, a few miles inland from Bamburgh. The weather was pretty bleak, with one storm having just passed and another just arriving—on the drive home through the Cheviots we drove gingerly through a lot of flooded roads—but we enjoyed holing up for a couple of nights by the fire, feeding the sheep and the chickens, seeing the castle in Bamburgh and Barter Books in Alnwick, and going for a walk up an anonymous peak nearby, with traces of a neolithic hill-fort at the top of it. Here are a few photos of it all, to go with the fine fellow on this month’s sidebar.


4 March 2020 · Journal

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