The Wiley, Windy Moors

It’s a big ol’ links round-up. Exasperating political stuff below the fold.

Idyllic old postcards of the Catskills are now scenes of abandonment.

How our pictures can help reclaim lost history.

Dutch masterpieces with mechanics.

The Netherlands feeds the world.

A collection of deliberately inconvenient objects.

The notorious “free watch”.

Shoegaze isn’t dead, it just moved east.

Aussie bloke sings “Wuthering Heights” in its original key. A Brazilian equivalent.

Morris the reversible fish.

These videos about EnChroma glasses are a study in bottled-up male emotion. It’s like watching Field of Dreams.

Read More · 19 September 2017 · Comment · Weblog


If you’re chained to someone bigger running towards a cliff edge, you yell at them to stop, you don’t say “they’re the majority”. When you’re already feeling the effects of their mad dash for the edge, you don’t presume jumping will make things any better. You certainly don’t want to jump to prove a point about what a disaster jumping will be. It won’t help much if you survive the fall, you’ll still end up a mangled mess.

If you actually liked the firm ground you were on, talk of new horizons at the bottom of the cliff is no reassurance, especially when you’ve just spent years climbing from the bottom of the cliff to the top. If you can’t stop them from jumping, you at least want a hang glider for a soft landing, or to circle back to firm ground, because once they jump, they’re going to discover that neither of you can fly—while claiming that you haven’t been flapping your arms hard enough, and that both of your imminent deaths are your fault.

A Twitter experiment.

6 September 2017 · Comment · Politics

The Howling Wind

It’s fair to say that I’ve kept a low profile on Twitter for a while, after experimenting with tweeting in various different styles in its early years. Nowadays I spend my time there reading depressing news stories posted by far more prolific people. Occasionally I tweet something work-related, as many of my followers know me from work. Now and then I’ll tweet or retweet something that isn’t, but mostly I use the Like button to keep track of that, using them like bookmarks (or favorites, funnily enough).

Read More · 4 September 2017 · Comment · Net Culture

Four Fairy Tales

A selection of limericks, two old and the rest new, inspired by years of bedtime stories.

Read More · 4 September 2017 · Comment · Whatever

Hot August Sites

The 100 greatest comedy movies, according to a BBC poll of international critics. I’ve only seen 62 of them, better get cracking.

The first album composed and produced by an AI.

Twelve ways to spot a bot.

The Home Office isn’t fit for purpose. It shouldn’t matter that the government has got the number of migrants wrong. People with two nationalities should be feted, not mistrusted.

Can we fix it? No, someone else can. Thread.

Just how evil is Sheriff Joe Arpaio?

The end of the line for queueing.

My iPhone turned me into a squirrel-chasing dog.

31 August 2017 · Comment · Weblog

Citizen of the World

A couple of comments originally posted to Metafilter during the past month, which I’d planned to rewrite for here, but had better just post before they’re too stale.

Read More · 31 August 2017 · Comment · Politics

The State of Things

I’d better get a post up if this blog isn’t to go a whole second month without any. The summer holidays took over: first I was out in Australia for a few weeks with the kids visiting family, and when we got back I began decluttering, culling five hundred old books and listing a bunch on Amazon, carting stuff to charity shops, auctioning on eBay, and tidying up things that had accumulated over the years. All still ongoing. We’ve also had trips to Glasgow, to Glentress for mountain-biking, a few Fringe shows, friends visiting, and the kids going back to school; and a disaster or two, such as our son’s new bike getting pinched last week.

So there hasn’t been much time for stopping here to comment on the state of the world, sorry as it is. Not that much has changed since the last times I did: Brexit is still a shambles, Trump has dropped all pretense of being anything other than fascist, and the climate is still inexorably changing.

But I do have a ridiculous backlog of links to post, so here’s a selection.

Read More · 28 August 2017 · Comment · Weblog

Viking Centre

With this summer’s school holidays almost upon us, here’s a trip from last summer. We’d long been tempted by the idea of a city-break in Copenhagen—during winter, perhaps, for the full Killing effect—but with young children in tow had put the idea on hold. But now it was the perfect time to visit Denmark, with a (then-) five-year-old and nine-year-old, to combine a city-break with a Lego City break. We started with a few nights in Copenhagen, then rented a car and drove across Zeeland, over the longest bridge in Europe and the island of Funen, to the Jutland peninsula. After two nights in the old Viking town of Jelling, half an hour from Legoland, we made our way back to Odense in Funen for a night, before driving through to Copenhagen Airport on our last morning.

Read More · 27 June 2017 · Comment · Travel


In the February school holidays we spent four nights in Madrid, which I’d first visited in 1986 but hadn’t since. We stayed in an Airbnb in the Lavapiés district, handy for Atocha station, the Prado and other downtown sights. In the Prado I caught up with my 18-year-old self’s doppelgänger, hanging right next to Las Meniñas. Later we wandered around Retiro, the royal park near the Prado, and visited Plaza de San Miguel to hop from stall to stall for tapas.

Churros at El Brillante

Read More · 22 June 2017 · Comment · Travel

Rear Window

Sunset over Edinburgh, 19 June 2017.
The view from our rear window last night around 10.30. Mouseover for more orange.

20 June 2017 · Comment · Journal

The End of Coffee


A vaccine could reverse Type 1 diabetes and other autoimmune disorders.

Britain: the end of a fantasy.

Anatomy of a doomed campaign.

The Republican defense of Trump is built on a massive lie.


What’s wrong with bribing millennials?

No time like the present.

Where Brexit will hurt the most.

Give nothing to racism.

Going with the cheaper, flammable cladding saved five grand. Unbearable.

The end of coffee.

20 June 2017 · Comment · Weblog

Make Your Own Yoghurt in a Slow Cooker

Inspired by my brother-in-law doing the same, and by eating pots and pots of Skyr in Iceland, I've taken up the yoghurt-making challenge. Although you can buy kits and commercial starters to make your own yoghurt, I found a method that uses tools I had to hand. All you need is a slow cooker, a digital thermometer, a blanket, a small pot of your favourite Greek yoghurt, and two litres of milk.

Read More · 15 June 2017 · 4 Comments · Food

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