Category Archives: Miscellany


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Nutters on the web

It’s a curious business. You’ve got these two nutters. One of them, let’s call him Rajiv, has culled some emails from a discussion list from which he’s been excluded for assorted ravings, and sends out plaintive missives couched in terms of eastern philosophy which no-one can understand. The second nutter, we’ll him Jack, receives one of his messages, and knowing something about eastern philosophy, takes it seriously and replies. One or two others complain to the discussion list which they mistake it as coming from, to which Nutter No.2 responds in terms that people on the list find pretty offensive (and it’s not the first time his interventions on this list have caused unhappiness either).

Seems to me this incident should be understood symptomatically. Continue reading

Walter Benjamin and the iPad

or, Advice for Writers in the Age of Digital Orthography

In his book of aphorisms, One Way Street, published in 1928, Walter Benjamin has a remarkable premonition. ‘The typewriter’ he says, ‘will alienate the hand of the man of letters from the pen only when the precision of typographic forms has directly entered the conception of his books. One might suppose that new systems with more variable typefaces would then be needed. They will replace the pliancy of the hand with the innervation of commanding fingers.’ [p63-4]

This is exactly what started to happen with the advent of the desktop computer six decades later, and with the internet, email and the web, digital command extended into a virtual domain which even a prescient fellow like Benjamin couldn’t have imagined. Continue reading

Michael’s Digest NEW

I’ve started a new blog for snippets of news and items which interest me for one reason or another. You can find it here: Michael’s Digest.

What a gas!

Anyone who still thinks the privatisation of utilities was a good thing needs their head examined. When I moved back to London some three years ago, I elected to take both gas and electricity from British Gas. Sometime later, must have been when new neighbours moved in upstairs, EDF came along and somehow took over my gas account without asking. At first I didn’t realise. When I did, it took a good deal of effort to get it corrected (including writing to my MP). Continue reading

Three Stooges

The new ministers at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport:


Someone help us!

Election Day


Aix-en-Provence, 1995

Election Videos

It’s the first time that a General Election in the UK has seen a televised leaders’ debate, and the unforeseen result has unsettled the political establishment by providing Nick Clegg with a visibility which previously evaded him. The resulting boost for the Liberal Democrats in the opinion polls seems to have sustained itself, and everyone is preparing for a hung parliament. The two big parties are running scared, the hidden establishment are laying in plans to maintain the stability of the pound. The media pundits are enjoying their own bewilderment, outdoing themselves with speculation on what a hung parliament would mean. Continue reading

Election Notes

The interesting thing about this election is of course the prospect of a hung parliament, because there is probably nothing else that could possibly shake up the political system to the same degree — although there’s no guarantee that it would, even so, because the establishment which works behind the scenes will be doing everything possible to ensure that it doesn’t. Continue reading

O Wonderful Photograph

And now here’s my video diary of the workshop at Lucca which I wrote about earlier (see  Creative Therapies in Lucca)