Nelson Mandela’s handling of the transition to post-apartheid South Africa made you wonder why all world leaders couldn’t be like that, particularly in the face of their failures elsewhere: at the moment of his election as president in 1994, Bosnia was tearing itself apart, Rwanda was a month into a hundred days of genocide, and there was little sign of international action on either. But that also made his election one of the most hopeful moments of the most dramatic five years in world politics in my lifetime, and that lingering hope was enough to soften the gritty impression made by Johannesburg when I visited it in 2000. One man can rarely make such a difference to how you feel about not only a whole country but the whole world, but Mandela did.
Not as dramatic as elsewhere in Britain today, but the way this tree in our tenement garden fell down in four directions at once in this morning’s storm was pretty impressive...
At least our roof didn’t blow off this time.
I missed a week of updating by obsessively watching everything Who-anniversary-related on iPlayer, including this clip of Tom Baker’s reappearance seventeen times. Here are some undoctored links.
Imagining the post-antibiotics future. Guess what—it’s awful!
Competition is killing the NHS for no good reason (unlike the Guardian’s headline writers, I wouldn’t suggest that ideology is a good reason).
UK police are about to get sweeping new powers for no good reason.
Life without parole for non-violent crimes for no good reason.
Murder by Craigslist. A story of an awful crime that draws some surprisingly hopeful conclusions.
Great story on the criminal legacy of leaded petrol, which left me glad I spent my 1970s childhood in the countryside.
There is no pause: global warming may have been dramatically underestimated because there aren’t enough weather stations at the poles. I’m slightly stunned that this realisation didn’t dawn sooner.
Of all the heart-breaking coverage of Typhoon Haiyan, the aerial photos of “Anibong town near Tacloban city” taken before and after the storm got to me the most. Look at where the road inland from the coast went in 2012... and where it is now.
What it’s like on the boats to Christmas Island. Open ocean, open boats.
This round-up of what’s happening at Fukushima is terrifying. The evacuation of Japan scarcely bears thinking about... but...
In our early years in Scotland, before the kids came along, we worked our way around the islands, visiting Orkney, Islay, Skye and the Outer Hebrides. But one group of islands always seemed just that bit too far away. Even from Edinburgh, it costs a fortune to travel to Shetland, either by plane or by ferry—as much as it would cost to fly to Canada or Greece. With two extra tickets to buy, it costs even more, and there’s always been more need to put the money towards trips home to visit family. It seemed like one of those trips that would never quite happen.
I suppose anyone at all interested in Arcade Fire has already heard Reflektor, but after two weeks of listening to little else I thought I’d note a few impressions here anyway. I also thought about gathering up a list of links to all the reviews I’ve read during my obsession with it, but too many are far too dismissive. A year from now they’re going to look as wrong-footed as any number of Robert Christgau’s old C- reviews of now-classic albums.
More late-night panoramic tinkering. Photoshop CS6 is a lot better at stitching than a circa-2001 copy of Canon’s panorama app for the Ixus, so some old scenes that didn’t turn out well in 2002–04 do today. Here are the British Museum, Hadrian’s Wall, Canary Wharf at sunrise, the Peak District at sunset, and a re-done Louvre.
My photo-sorting has been gathering pace. I’ve added four more Shetland Panoramas to the first couple posted in August to create a new gallery of windswept scenery. Non-panoramic scenes to come.
Million-year data storage. Yes, please.
OS X 10.9 Mavericks: The Ars Technica Review. Seems okay to me so far. Two annoyances are the way list view in finder windows greys out everything except filenames, and command-clicking a folder opens a new finder tab rather than a new window. The usual little things.
Lowering My Standards by Jack Handey.
Well this wasn’t what I was expecting to do last night.
Twenty-two years since I first saw him perform “Wolves” on a TV benefit gig, and I’d never seen him live—and now I have. Not on a distant Wembley stage seen from the back row, but standing about three metres away, performing an impromptu gig in front of an audience of four hundred.
Very, very funny. One of those performers whose flights of insanity as he riffs off ad libs are as funny as his prepared material. Virgin sacrifice, British colonials, high-pitched leaders, dressage, a call-back to a certain pasta-themed bit... all great stuff. The scheduled 60-80 minutes stretched past two hours, and we would happily have stayed for more.
Many thanks to Andy for scoring me a ticket.