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In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Category archive: Transport

Monday February 08 2016

More and more, as I browse around in places like dezeen, I come across pictures looking like this:

image

The this in question being the idea of connecting the tops of towers with footbridges.  And that particular picture having been produced to advertise a new scheme for jazzing up Paris.

I love bridges of all kinds, and footbridges just as much as any other sort, so I have been paying attention to such pictures as the above for quite a while now.  And I reckon there’s now something of a buzz developing around this idea.  Simply, there are about to be a lot of such bridges as those fantasised above, connecting the tops of buildings, and often for the use of the general public, rather than just the people in the buildings directly connected.  There will, in some big cities, in only a few years, be entire new alternative worlds at the old roof level, where you will be able to travel for miles without ever touching the regular old ground.

I am now going to scroll down at dezeen, to see if I can find more pictures like the above.  Bear with me. …

Well, it took a while.  Dezeen has lots of postings about stand-alone little modernist buildings, which, frankly, don’t interest me that much.  My feeling about such stand-alones being: we already know how to do those.  Modernist versions of big sheds or older school houses are just stylistic tweaking.  Nothing profound is going on.  But pictures like this …:

image

… and this …:

image

… (which I found in this posting, and which I remember being very struck by when I first set eyes on them) tell me that a seriously different urban future will soon be happening, in cities all over the globe.

The underlying story here is that cities are ceasing to be mere machines for living in and for working in, with occasional little spots that tourists will like to visit and have fun in (but which the locals ignore).  They are becoming nice experiences.  Everyone is becoming a tourist in them, you might say.

Central to this process is the banishment of big old road vehicles, and an alternative emphasis on being a pedestrian.  Or even a speeded up pedestrian.  Think of how the old dock districts of big cities are being turned into nice new developments with lots of waterside footpaths.  Think of what has been happening to canals.

What’s going to happen is that one city – maybe Paris? – will do this in a big way, and tourism, including by the locals, will surge upwards, in the city and on the graphs.  People will love it.  And then lots of other cities will do it.  Including London, because London has a natural pre-skyscraper height at which this will make sense, and because London is now so full of stuff that is worth seeing from this particular height..

A big reason why all this is going to happen is that it will not be all that expensive to do, one of the big reasons why pedestrian footbridges are already a major design flavour the decade being that public money is now tight, and footbridges are relatively cheap.  Designers love them, because although footbridges do not involve that much metal or timber or concrete, they do often involve a lot of design.

The picture at the top of this posting has the words “Ternes-Villiers, La Ville Multi-Strate by Jacques Ferrier” attached to it at dezeen, and I just googled those words.  And, I immediately found my way to this, here:

image

It’s not clear from this picture just how public these bridges are intended to be.  Other pictures suggest that the “community” able to use these bridges will just be the people who live in the apartment blocks thus connected.  But this doesn’t alter the fact that the general public are going to want to get involved in all this high-level fun and sightseeing (and photography), if only because it will all be so clearly visible from below.

Sunday February 07 2016

On the same day I photoed this stuff, up there in …

image

…, I also photoed white vans, like these ones:

imageimage

“Rimessa a nuovo e posa pavimenti in Legno” is the Italian for having sex for the first time, very elegantly (like they’re performing), on the pavement, in a place called Legno.  No not really, I don’t know what that means.  Something to do with wood flooring.

As for th van on the right, rather black but with a giant white painted piece of seafood on it, well, I like it.  Although I do miss the times when the Wright Brothers didn’t mean that, but meant the first people to fly an airplane and land it, or whatever it was exactly that the original Wright Brothers did.

Here, on the other hand, is a white van of the sort you don’t want to see:

image

Graffiti, badly covered up or badly cleaned up, and then more graffiti.  Not good.  I have never seen a white van that was an graffiti battlefield before.  Graffighting?

So, I’ll cheer myself up with another white van, this time an excellent one, photoed more recently, outside a building site in Westminster:

image

A white van for looking after tower cranes.  White vans don’t get any better than that..

Saturday February 06 2016

Today I have been what passes with me for busy.  By this I do not mean that I have been doing anything along the lines of work, of benefit to others.  Oh no.  But I have been paying attention to a succession of things, all of which involved me not being in much of a state to do anything else.

There was a game of cricket, there was a game of rugger, and a game of football.  England defeated South Africa.  England defeated Scotland.  And Spurs defeated Watford.  So, three for three. And then I went to hear a talk at Christian Michel’s, about The Unconscious, Freudian and post-Freudian.  Freud, it turns out, was right that there is an Unconscious, but wrong about a lot of the details.

On my way home from that talk, I took a photo.  Technically it was very bad photo, because it was taken through the window of a moving tube train.  It is of an advert at a tube station.  But my photo did the job, which was to immortalise here yet another assemblage of London’s Big Things, in an advert:

image

That’s only a bit of the picture, rotated a bit, lightened and contrasted a bit and sharpened a bit.

The advert was for these visitor centres, which sound suspiciously like what used to be called “information desks”.

I see: the Cheesegrater, the Wheel, the BT Tower, Big Ben, the cable car river crossing, the Gherkin, Tower Bridge, the Shard, St Paul’s, and the pointy-topped Canary Wharf tower.  I forgive TfL for plugging the embarrassing Emirates Dangleway.  If they didn’t recommend it, who would?

Because of all that busy-ness, I have no time to put anything else here today.

Tomorrow: Super Bowl!

LATER: AB de Villiers, talking about South Africa now being two down with three to play:

“I can’t help but think, shit we have got to win three games in a row to win this series. Shucks, I mean. But that’s the fact of the matter. In situations like this, whether you are 2-nil up or 2-nil down, you have to take a small step. The next game is important for us. Shucks.”

We all know what shit is, but now learn what a shuck is.

Thursday February 04 2016

The following picture explains (a) why all my cameras must have a zoom lens permanently available, as powerful as is within the bounds of sanity, and (b) why this zoom lens must be instantly usable.  In other words why I will not tolerate faffing about with hand-attached lenses.  Which means that all my cameras have had to be “bridge” cameras rather than DSLRs.  I need wide-angle one moment, and then the next moment, by which I often mean the next second, I may need zoom and tons of it.

Here is the picture, which Antoine Clarke took, Twittered, and then phoned me about because he reckoned I would like it:

image

And I do like it.  A lot.  A lorry, with a panoramic photo-view of London on the side?  What, as people now like to say, ‘s not to like?

But Antoine’s attached Twitter verbiage reads as follows:

What’s a Japanese torpedo bomber doing there?!?

What Japanese torpedo bomber?  The world wants Antoine to zoom in on the Japanese torpedo bomber, to prove that there is indeed a Japanese torpedo bomber present.

I hoped that the photo above would download itself from Twitter, and it did.  Good.  But, it was only 640 pixels wide.  (This Blog is 500 pixels wide.) Not so good.

When I expanded what I took to be the Japanese torpedo bomber, I got this:

image

If you already know that you are looking for a Japanese torpedo bomber, then you will, just about, maybe, see a Japanese torpedo bomber.  But a zoomed in close-up would really have helped.

I know how hard it can be photoing vehicles that are, as it were, zooming past.  Often one shot is the best you can hope for, and equally often not even that.  Yesterday a Wicked Campervan zoomed, as it were, past me, with “DRINK TILL SHE’S PRETTY” written on its arse, and I completely missed photing it.  (But no worries.  I think it was the van in a photo you can find by scrolling down in this grumpy article.)

But something about the exact composition of Antoine’s shot tells me that Antoine’s lorry was stationary, or nearly so.  So, Antoine, is there a bigger version of this shot available, more like 4000x3000 than 640x480?  (4000x3000 being what my Panasonic Lumix FZ200 cranks out.) That would supply some Japanese torpedo bomber detail.  Or is there even a close-up of the Japanese torpedo bomber?

Failing that, does Antoine know what enterprise this lorry was working for?  Maybe they have a website, with photos?

Okay, now I’m being grumpy.  It took me a long time to get into the habit of photoing all the incidental detail around a good photo, for future internetting purposes.  But, with apologies for immediately demanding more when given something nice, … Antoine?

Tuesday February 02 2016

Yes, today I was in Burgess Park, which is the other side of the river from me.  I took the 148 bus, to see where it would go, and once in that bus, I spent my time wondering what Camberwell Green is.

I tried to take photos out of the bus, but the best seats, at the top at the front, were taken.  I had to sit right at the back.  But, in the vicinity of the Elephant and Castle, I did manage this:

image

I got lucky with the crane shadow, didn’t I?  The development is called Elephant Park.

I never did find out about Camberwell Green, because the bus got stuck in a jam next to one of the entrances to Burgess Park, and I got out at the next stop to take another look at this diverting space.  I visited Burgess Park once before, and liked it a lot.  Great views of Big Things.  Today was also good, from that point of view:

image

But the shot of the day, in my opinion so far, on the same evening, is this, of a photographer photoing the sunset:

image

You’ll have to take my word for it that the sunset is what he was photoing, and for that matter that he was even holding a camera.  But he was.

Sunday January 31 2016

This picture of a taxi ticks two BMdotcom boxes.  First, its a black cab which isn’t, either because it just isn’t, or because it is covered in an advert.  In this case, it’s a bit of both:

image

But better, we observe in the advert on the not-black cab two Big Things.  The Big Thing on the left says: London!  And what is actually the much Bigger Thing, on the right, says: New York!  I am collecting imagery that says: London!, and this fits that bill very well, even if it does say: New York! as well.

I quite like the replacement for the Twin Towers, but it seems to me rather bland, in a picture, when you can’t see how very big it is.  Bland being what you do not want in a Big Thing for saying: New York!  But I guess, the Twin Towers having established themselves as the Big Things that formerly said: New York, whatever replaced them was going to have to do that job as soon as it appeared, bland or not.  The Empire State or the Chrysler would no longer do, them having already been dethroned as the sayers of: New York!, by the Twin Towers.

I think it is very telling that in the New York picture there is a clump of skyscrapers rather than just one.  Because New York is not any one skyscraper.  It’s a forest of skyscrapers.  Each individual skyscraper may be rather bland, but what it all adds up to is anything but bland.

But New York is not my town, and that is only me guessing.

Tuesday January 26 2016

David Pierce writes at Wired about gadgets for speeding up pedestrians, which I too am interested in. He has been using an electric scooter.  I saw one of these in London recently, travelling at an impressive lick, but didn’t manage to photo it, because was holding too much shopping.  Still should have.  Will try to next time I see such a thing.

Some quotes:

The problem with moving away from car ownership is that you give up one its biggest upsides: you can usually park exactly where you’re going. Public transit, built around permanent stations, can’t offer that. That’s called the “last mile” problem: How do you get from the subway or bus stop to where you’re actually going, when it’s just a little too far to walk?

In among such good analysis are bits of humbug about how cars are, in addition to clogging up cities, ruining the planet with their sinful carbon emissions.  You don’t have to buy into all that guff to see the point of not ruining cities, but instead continuing to get around in them, speedily yet comfortably.  Personally, I live in a big city partly in order not to have to own a car.

Electric kick scooters, goofy [though? - BM] they may be, are a particularly good answer to the last mile problem. …

Pierce focusses in on one of the details, of just the sort that settle these contests in favour of this gadget and against that one:

The UScooter’s much easier to ride than the hugely popular hoverboard, because all you have to do is hop on and not tip over. Turns out handlebars are helpful that way. You can take it over small curbs and cracks in the sidewalk, powering through the obstacles that would launch you forward off a hoverboard. ...

This piece is entitled “It’s Too Bad Electric Scooters Are So Lame, Because They May Be the Future”.  So this is yet another of those arguments where what looks like it could be a very smart thing is being held back by jeering coolists who think it’s not cool.  (See also: using tablets to take photos.) I wonder if, when the wheel first got invented, idiot fashionistas stood around saying, yes, we entirely see the point of this thing, but it’s not cool.  It’s lame.  Therefore, we forbid it.  Wankers.

Sunday January 24 2016

Earlier this month I came upon a clutch of Boris Bikes.  Boris Bikes used to be sponsored by Barclays Bank, and now, as you can see from the pictures of Boris Bikes that follow, they are sponsored by Santander, but Boris Bikes is what we all call these things.

Here are six of the Boris Bike pictures I took, on January 11th:

image image imageimage image image

Click on each of those to get six, seemingly pretty much identical, big pictures.

But actually, they are not identical pictures. 

I have recently become especially interested not just in the way that London’s Big Things look when I photo them, but in the way that others use these Big Things, or stylised representations of these Big Things, to say “London”.  In an advert for being a tourist in London, for instance.  Or, in this case, as a way to flag up that here are some bikes for hire which will enable you to bike around in London, seeing London.  And how do you make biking around London and seeing London seem more enticing?  You throw in pictures of London’s Big Things.  (You even throw in Big Things if you are advertising for sperm donors.  Had it not been for my recently cultivated alertness to the use of London’s Big Things in adverts, I’d not have bothered to photo that sperm donor advert.)

What I noticed about these bikes, and what got me photoing so many of them in this apparently way too excessive manner, is that each of them has a picture of two London Big Things on them.  I was able to find six different Big Thing duos, hence the above six pictures.

Allow me to save you the bother of looking more closely at the Big Things on these bikes, with some cropped out squares: 

image image imageimage image image

I just used google image searching to see if I could find any other Big Thing duos that I had not photoed on that day out, earlier this month.  I failed.  So far as I can tell, there are just six ways in which these bikes are decorated.

The complete set of Big Thing duos would appear to be: The Shard and Tower Bridge, the Wheel and St Paul’s Cathedral, the Big Olympic Thing and the Tower of London, the Millennium Bridge and Battersea Power Station, the Gherkin and Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and the Dome.  Ancient and modern, in pairs.  I find this list interesting both for what is included, and for what is not.  I am guessing that these Big Things were not chosen just by a bunch of guys round a table picking them.  I’m guessing that a serious attempt was made to pick Big Things that really do say London to lots of different people.  In particular, this is data about which particular bits of new engineering and architecture have truly been added to the short list of Big Things that are not merely big, but loved.  Although it’s worth adding that the Millennium Bridge is not actually that big.

Even if actually this short list of six ancient Big Things and six modern Big Things actually was put together by a bunch of guys sitting around a table at an advertising agency, in the space of half an hour, well, that’s still data, of a sort.  These are the Big Things that they think say London, to the people they are trying to persuade to hire Boris bikes.

The surprises?  Well, for me, a slightly surprising inclusion is the Big Olympic Thing, and maybe a slightly surprising exclusion is Tate Modern.  Also not included here: the new Wembley Arch.  But by far the biggest surprise here is, I think, the omission of: the BT Tower.

Can anyone think of any other omissions as big as that one?

Of course, it could be that there are Boris bikes out there with the BT Tower on them, or with the Wembley Arch on them, and I just haven’t clocked them.

Friday January 22 2016

You often hear people talking about how buildings which are a lot taller than they are thick are really just penis substitutes.  This advert, which I snapped on the tube earlier this month, makes the connection explicit:

image

Want to know more?  Here.

I have noticed that the junk email I get, and the adverts that interrupt my internet browsing, seem sometimes to be related to stuff I have posted here.  So, I may regret this posting.

Sunday January 10 2016

Now that I seem to be concentrating on wacky transport, …: here.

For the purposes of this posting, bike fishing means fishing for bikes.  Not: fishing while on a bike.

As already noted here before Christmas, Amusing Planet has become a regular internet spot for me.  I especially liked this report, complete with photos like this:

image

Favourite line in the report:

Bike fishing has become one of Amsterdam’s unique tourist attraction.

My immediate reaction was: So, anyone can do it?  Do you need a license?  But what they really mean, presumably, is just standing there and watching while somebody else does the bike fishing.

A bike fishing competition might be really something.  And it still might be if it was fishing while on a bike.

Other recent favourite Amusing Planet posting: The Lady of the North.

Wednesday January 06 2016

It seems that, photographically, my thing of the year so far is merely serviceable photos of interestingly decorated means of transport.  Continuing this theme somewhat, but only somewhat, is the following photo - barely even serviceable as a photo, but it just about does the job - of a means of transport that is not decorated at all, if only because there isn’t room:

image

But, this is interesting, I think.  Are we now witnesses the next Big Transport Thing?  Not in the form of robot cars (still years away), but of mechanically enhanced pedestrians?

In addition to the above device, which I espied near my home about a month ago, I have also observed others travelling on electrified scooters.

And here is another such device, this time reported and photoed by others:

image

A “one-wheeled giroscopic skateboard”?  Does this even work?  Presumably, after a fashion.

The thing is, cities are being ever more ferociously pedestrianised.  The usual way to speed up pedestrians is to put them in trains, buses or cars.  Or on bikes.  But are mechanised legs actually the wave of the immediate future?  Is this the transport race now being raced?  Could be.

If so, I wonder what will win.  The winner has to be reasonably cheap, and reasonably small, and reasonably rechargeable.  It must not, when used, be too much of a pain and a terror to other pedestrians, which I guess actually means too fast.  If the above skateboard is too fast, might it not fit on regular pedestrian paths.

How about electrified rollerskates, which can, at the push of a button, be converted back into boots?  I mean, who says there can only be one motor?  Why not four?  Two to power the wheels on the boots, and two to convert them to regular boots.  The trouble with wheelies like in my picture above, and skateboards, is that if they don’t work on account of the surface being hostile (like: steps), they have to be carried.  Rollerskates which change into semi-normal boots can be “carried” by your feet when not being used as rollerskates.  Very light materials (a new thing these days) could make these boots perhaps quite big, but not too heavy.  Maybe make the rollerskates into big boots, but detachable from more convenient boots, when you get to your destination.

Just thinking aloud, you understand.  We shall see.

Another thing to be keeping a photographic eye out for.

Tuesday January 05 2016

3D printing is not the replacement of factories by homes.  It is manufacturing in factories only more so.  Making stuff is not, as of now, getting less skilled.  It is getting more skilled ...:

Most ceramic 3D printing uses complex techniques to deposit layers of the material on top of each other, and as a result have to use materials with relatively low melting points. The techniques can also only be used to create fairly simple shapes.

But a team from HRL Laboratories in Malibu, California, has developed what they call a pre-ceramic resin, which they can 3D print much like regular polymers into complex shapes. The process, known as stereolithography, fuses a powder of silicon carbide ceramics using UV light. Once the basic shape is printed, it can be heat-treated at 1,800°F to turn the pre-ceramic resin into a regular ceramic object. In fact, this is the first time silicon carbide ceramics have ever been 3D printed.

… which is very good news for the rich world economies.

Says a commenter:

So 2016 opens with YAAI3DP (Yet Another Advance In 3D Printing.) and some point all these breakthroughs are going to add up and utterly transform manufacturing.

The way he then goes on to say that it will transform manufacturing is that we may eventually get stuff made whenever and wherever we want it made.  In homes and shopping malls, in other words.  Maybe eventually.  In the meantime, cleverer stuff is getting made in the same old places, and then transported to where it is needed.

When I transport blogged, one of the constant themes I found myself noticing was how people regularly thought that transport would be done away with, but it never was.  The main notion was that people would communicate so well that they’d never want to meet face-to-face.  Now, it is being speculated that stuff will be made so cleverly that it will be makable anywhere.  Maybe so, but that isn’t now the smart way to do it, and it probably never will be.

Saturday January 02 2016

Well, I think it’s artistry.  It is definitely wrap advertising:

Using what is known as a “conformable vinyl wrapping” material, a high-quality print or protective clear wrap can be molded to almost any and every part of a vehicle. Typically, conformable material is used because it is the easiest to work with, especially on contoured surfaces. Using the proper adhesives when applying the material to the surface of the car is essential, otherwise the wrap can lead to adhesive failure in a few months after the application.

Advancements in plastics have led to new types of vinyl designed specifically for wrap advertising, including vinyl sheets that feature bubble-preventing air channels. Microscopic glass beads are used to prevent an adhesive from functioning until the user is ready (the beads allow the material to be repeatedly lifted and reapplied during the wrapping process, without compromising the longevity of the wrap). The vinyl is heated with a heat gun or torch for the purpose of molding the material around objects.

Yesterday’s posting here was all about hand-painted vehicles.  Here are some photos of some of London’s famed black cabs which have been wrapped with adverts, in the manner described above.  I have concentrated on black cabs which are wrapped all over:

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Again, I make no artistic claims for these photos, just for the people who wrapped the black cabs, and above all for the people who worked out how this could be done, in the elegant way that you can observe.

Resulting in all these “black cabs”, like so many of the species these days, not being black at all.

I got talking to the owner of “black” cab 2.2, i.e. the one in the middle of the bottom three, in close up, and he said he gets paid £70 a month.  Which is not enough for anyone to make a living just by riding around inside a 3D advert.  But, enough to make a nice difference.

Friday January 01 2016

Here is what the vans of Wicked Campers (which presumably started up in Australia) look like, photoed by me over the last few months, in Lower Marsh, where they often congregate.

I claim no artistic expression points for these pictures.  They merely show what these entertaining vehicles look like.  All the artistic expression points go to whoever decorated the vans:

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So far so excellent.  More Wicked Campers van décor to be found here, many of them equally excellent if not more excellent, and equally tasteless and un-PC if not more tasteless and more un-PC.

The Guardian is not amused

So then, I decided to search out the British HQ of Wicked Campers, which wasn’t hard because it is not far from Lower Marsh at all, in very nearby Carlisle Street.

And it looks as if the Guardian’s complaints, and the complaints the Guardian reports and seeks to amplify, may be having an effect.  Wicked Campers HQ was a severe disappointment, at any rate the day I visited, last week.  I found only two more vans, and both were appallingly tasteful, compared to the Wicked Campers norm.  The big clutch of vans above look like there were decorated by expat Aussies who don’t give a shit.  These two vans look like they were done by a British art student who probably reads the damn Guardian, every day.

Picture one here is just a pattern, with no in-your-face verbiage at all.  Pictures two and three are of the same van, opposite sides:

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Ugh!

I really hope I’m wrong, and that Wicked Campers continue to prosper in their classic, tasteless, un-PC form.