Wednesday 29 April 2020

He works his works, I mine.

In the 1980s all music studios forgot how to record the drums. The whole lot was so compressed that there was more feel and expression in the score than the recording, it was so heavily gated that you didn't get any idea what the kit sounded like, and it was all drenched in synthetic reverb.

Decades later (but still decades ago now) I happened to see a documentary about the recording of some charity single from the 80s. There was footage of Phil Collins playing the drums in a live room of the Abbey Road studios. Bizarrely when they showed this footage they played the sound that had been recorded on the condenser mic in the camera (rather than off the master tapes). I found it fascinating because you could actually hear the drums and what I learned is that they were really nice, and that Phil Collins played them beautifully.

I excitedly told this story to my friend who dismissed the whole fascinating business as "So your stunning revelation is that Phil Collins is a good drummer?".

This week the poem "Ulysses" by Tennyson came up. After I had had it explained to me I found it really moving and sad. I went a bit lockdown-emo. It's about getting old, and whether there's more to life than to carry on breathing. I was talking to the same friend about how our tastes are changing and our ability (to drink) is declining as we age. I quoted the last few lines of Ulysses and he was as impressed as I was. We talked about poetry and he said he wished he could write something that had a profound emotional reaction, but he can't.

His stunning revelation is that Tennyson is a good poet.

"We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."

Richard "lockdown-emo" B

Wednesday 22 April 2020


Even a few years ago, a description of what I did this weekend would have sounded like the beginning of a dystopian sci-fi story. I left the house, as mandated by the government, only for two brief periods of exercise. I interacted with the faces and voices of my friends and colleagues on screens, communicating over a high frequency radio link and a world-spanning digital communication network. In another computer one of my friends set up a physical simulation of a table and a board game with its various cards, pieces, and pawns. A few of us connected to that server and played a game in which you try to save the world from a pandemic.

If I were reading that sci-fi story I would be struck by the absence of a clear villain. In the board game all the players work together against the board, the way the cards were shuffled determines how the game progresses. I would suspect that the author was trying to make some point about simulating the environment that you're currently in, and that the main plot was going to mirror the development of the board game. Either that, or what looked like character development with me seething against whoever the landlord had employed to mend my neighbours fence (they damaged my fence and encroached on to my side of the legal boundary) would turn out to be critical to the main plot. It'll be that property maintenance company trying to take over the world through bio-terrorism! It's barely worth reading the rest of the book now.

Richard "crude simulations all the way down" B

Tuesday 14 April 2020

Chopping board

This is my favourite chopping board, I bought it in the mid 90's. It's made of beech which has terrible dimensional stability so roughly every decade one of the glue joints will split. This time I decided to put dowels in rather than just reglue it.

I'm using a shooting board to hold the plane flat.

Drilling as upright as I can.



The plank that I glued back is seriously low.

I marked the holes more accurately than that. My best guess for where the error came in, is trying to feed a normal twist drill with a 118 degree tip angle into a bradawl mark.


At this rate it's not even going to last another hundred years.

Richard "where do you buy kitchen collimators" B

Tuesday 7 April 2020


It seems most likely that the COVID19 pandemic is just an unlucky natural occurrence. Bats, like us are mammals, like us they live together in huge numbers, and like us they are wide ranging. As such they make a perfect breeding (and evolution) ground for viruses. If one makes a success of itself in the bat population, and it's adaptable enough to jump to humans, then it's really hit the big time!

There are people claiming that COVID19 is biologically engineered, and it's worth thinking about that idea for a moment. It would be an impressive feat of science, it would require enormous cruelty to deliver it into the population, and there would have to be a vaccine or cure available to the instigators. I will admit though that what's currently going on (destruction of the economy, overloading of medical resources, fragmentation of society, death and distrust) does look very much like a softening-up operation in preparation for an invasion.

So who would have done it? In recent weeks I have seen a surprising amount of anti-Chinese propaganda: They lied about the seriousness of the initial outbreak and put billions of lives in danger; their wet markets mix live and slaughtered animals and their filth; look at the horrible things that they eat; watch this video of a chinaman frying a dog alive; most impressively, they seem to have corrupted the World Health Organisation. These would clearly be false-flag propaganda operations, so I can only think that the Russians would be behind it.

I'm not a military strategist, but I did play some "Risk" as a child. I know that it's all very well trying to take Europe through Ukraine and Bellaruse, but while you're doing it someone else is amassing forces in Alaska and invading through Kamchatka. As it's already springtime, Alaska is warming up and the counter-invasion is feasible, so I really don't think it's likely that this pandemic was done on purpose.

And then what always seems to happen is that in the aftermath of the mutual destruction in Eurasia, someone who appeared to be out of the game will appear, resurgent, from Australasia and take the entire world. I for one welcome our new god-emperor Jacinda Ardern.

Richard "Collusion Hypothesis" B