She’ll Be Right

Watching developments in Australia from the vantage point of Plague Island has been a weird mixture of reassurance and fearfulness. In the early weeks of the pandemic J. and I were worried that our families there would catch Covid while we were stuck over here and unable to travel back. When it became clearer that the risk of that was much smaller than in Britain, the worry was just that we wouldn’t get to see them for a long, long time. It’s two years since I last saw my folks, and will be at least another. But at least they’ve been safe.

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1 August 2021 · Events

It Was Twenty Years Ago Today

View from Jurys Inn, Edinburgh, 31 July 2001
View from Jurys Inn, Edinburgh, 31 July 2001.

31 July 2021 · 1 Comment · Memory

A Collective Hallucination

The populist revolt against the tyranny of merit.

How Britain fell to right-wing identity politics.

When a country cancelled half its citizens.

Labour never had a red wall.

Boris Johnson and the erosion of the rule of law.

The world’s newest failed state.

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30 July 2021 · Weblog

No Award

The Pulitzer awarded no prize this year for editorial cartooning despite having Tom the Dancing Bug among its finalists—his “Richard Scarry’s Busy, Busy Day in Trump’s America” was worth the prize alone. Tom Tomorrow points out the problems well.

Where’s the carnival?

On a plate.

Lovely little old rectangular green French silver whittling knife.

A working Lego typewriter.

A perfectly reasonable use of technology which will definitely not come back to haunt humanity in any way, shape, or form.

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22 June 2021 · Weblog



This was a low-key spring compared with last year’s, without as many visits to the garden to track the growth of the flowers, but I managed a few photos of blossoms and blooms, plus my best-ever shot of a giant panda at Edinburgh Zoo (though don’t raise your expectations too much). This modest gallery ends with a sunset on Portobello Beach, briefly observed while picking up my teenage son from a friend’s place the weekend after lockdown ended. The way the summer is looking, I’m not sure how many more of those there will be.

10 June 2021 · Journal


A two-month gap in posting could do with some explanation, but the details wouldn’t make for the cheeriest entry, so I’ll skip lightly past them and turn to some photos I’ve been tinkering with off and on in the meantime.

Since my parents moved there in the mid-2000s I’ve added seven galleries of the Tasman Peninsula to Detail—eight including the one of Port Arthur—and here’s a ninth, going back to a camping trip in the mid-’90s and a day trip the following summer. The negatives had yellowed with age, so the scans needed work (some are from the original prints), but the results aren’t too bad. As with my other old photos of places I’ve visited many times, there are echoes of more recent ones, but they’re still worth a look.

Tasman 1995

9 June 2021 · 1 Comment · Memory

Neon Blue Lava

Reactions are spiking at Chernobyl.

We’re hurtling toward global suicide.

The scientists turning the desert green.

England’s forgotten rainforests.

Cool paint.

An electric vehicle motor that uses no magnets.

A battery that charges sixty times faster than lithium-ion.

The solar power of the future.

Neon blue lava.

9 June 2021 · Environment

Enemy State

The Brexit of small things.

Antiques no-show.

Have things improved?

“I can’t see any positives.”

Food exporters are having to cut ties with the EU.

Europe’s trust in Britain has gone.

Enemy state.

“After Calais it is the north pole.”

Why the UK isn’t winning Eurovision.

What will replace the United Kingdom?

9 June 2021 · Politics


Page abuse.

Seven moral rules that unite humanity.

Watching a film from 2004.

John Steinbeck’s editor removes all the werewolves from his work.

Super resolution.


Covid sniffer dogs.

The cost of eating out to help out.

A slow, recurrent onslaught of worsening things.

Bam, Jam.

9 June 2021 · Weblog

Metal Gods

The other day I mentioned randomly selecting Angel of Retribution on my iPhone and playing it to my daughter, and realising that I had a fellow head-banger in the family. After diving into online writing about Judas Priest and discovering That Hashtag Show’s Judas-Priest-a-thon from last year, sampling their old and new albums as I went, I reminded myself of the extraordinary opening title track of Painkiller, which sounded as fresh as ever; from there, YouTube’s algorithm revealed its standing as one of the best First Listen/Reaction video prompts of all. If anything warranted a Metafilter post, it was this.

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16 April 2021 · Music