Brian Micklethwait's Blog

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

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Category archive: Transport

Monday April 21 2014

Indeed:

image

Follow the link above, and you’ll read the headline “China build the World’s Longest Bridge - Jiaozhou Bay Bridge”.  But bridges like this, across huge chunks of sea and with hugely long approaches over that sea, are fairly common now, even if this particular one happens to be the biggest in this genre, for the moment.  The photo has it right.  The bridge is just another bridge, and is rightly stuck away in the distance.  The motorway junction is in the foreground, and quite right too.  Is there, anywhere else on the planet, a motorway junction resembling this one, all at sea?

Ordinary bridge, astonishing approach.  Reminds me of this.

Sunday April 20 2014

Indeed.  Yesterday, late in the afternoon, walking along the south side of the river, near the National Theatre (see below), I saw, and photographed this:

image

Which, for me, was a first.

I took lots of shots where the photographer had only one leg on the skateboard, but with the other leg touching the ground and pushing him forward.  But eventually I got the shot I was waiting for.

A Happy Easter to all my readers.

Sunday April 13 2014

Literally about three people whom I spoke with at LLFF14 may now or soon be flooding in to BrianMicklethwait.com, expecting, perhaps, libertarian profundities.  But this is not that sort of place, is it?  No it is not.

Here, I do things like display photos of London, like this:

image image

On the left, a shot taken by me on May 19th 2004, showing how Vauxhall bus station looked when it was under construction.  On the right, how the same building looked when completed, photoed by me last Christmas Eve.

What a very odd object this is.

The 2004 photo was taken with my second digital camera, which was a Canon PowerShot A70.

Sunday March 30 2014

I read recently that there is some insane plan afoot to ban classic cars from London, on account of them all having the wrong kind of wicked global-warming-type engines or some such crap.  I hope this plan is strangled at birth, but it is just the kind of plan that may not be.

Meanwhile, I here celebrate the occasional presence of beautiful antique cars in London with some photos, of a beautiful antique car:

image image imageimage image image

That’s a Sunbean Talbot that I spotted in Lower Marsh, on July 6th of last year, which was an appropriately sunny day for photoing a Sunbeam.

Here is a close-up of the front, crop from what I originally snapped, for legibility.  Click for even more legibility:

image

As you can see, STAR stands for Sunbeam Talbot Alpine Register.  I reckon if you drive around in a fancy car like this you are fair game for internet searching, so I tried to see if I could find other photos of this exact car, who owns it, etc.  But I failed.  My commenters are typically cleverer at this kind of thing than I am, so, as I often say here: Anybody?  Is it someone famous?

Monday March 24 2014

Indeed:

image

But for where?  Would you believe, Iraq?  No?

Yes.

Built in China, apparently.

Monday March 17 2014

Last Wednesday, I snapper a whole lot of my fellow snappers, but I did not neglect inanimate objects.  Here are some of the “I just like it” photos I also took that afternoon, as afternoon turned into evening and as the sun started hitting particular parts of those objects.  Click at will for the bigger versions:

image image imageimage image imageimage image imageimage image imageimage image image

I make that: four Wheels (1.2 behind trees; 2.1 behind a little scaffolding; 4.1, bottom of, end on; and 5.2, in a piece of art in a shop window, behind a bird); two Big Bens (2.3, with all its spikes (most pictures of Big Ben include the clock, which then upstages all the spikes) and 4.2, serving as blurry backdrop for two street lights); two Millbank Towers (2.2 and 5.3, the one with the crew cut hairdo of roof clutter); one Shard (3.1, weird top of); one Spray Can (2.3, next to the Millbank Tower -will “Spray Can” ever catch on?) some cranes (1.1) and some tourist crap (4.3), which I love to photo even as I would never buy.

See also a vapour trail (3.3), part white, part dark, depending (presumably) on whether the sun is hitting it or not.  (One of my best (I think) postings here concerned a dirty looking vapour trail.)

And see also that St Thomas’s Hospital car park under a park with a fountain (5.1), than I mentioned in the earlier posting with the photographers.

For someone else’s earnestly anxious ruminations about London’s incurably crowded and bustling state, try this.  Not enough “affordable” housing, he says.  This would suggest to me that building “affordable housing” is not affordable for the builders.  Why not?  What rules make affordable housing unaffordable to build?  He says, of course, not enough rules and subsidies.  I say too many rules and subsidies.

Maybe I’d start with the Green Belt, a huge doughnut of dreary fields through which commuter trains race and commuter cars crawl.  In a free market, some of the green belt would stay fields or become parks, and some of it towns, that are affordable to live in. I wouldn’t just free up all of it, in one go.  I’d carve out the prettiest bits of it and say: don’t build here.  And I’d point at the boring bits (very numerous) and say, build here, whatever you like.

But that wouldn’t “solve” all London’s problems.  These are caused by London being a great city that millions of people want to live and work in.  “Solve” whatever is considered to be London’s biggest problem now, and you merely make all other London problems that bit worse.  London will always be overcrowded, and lacking in this or that thing that Guardian opinion-mongers consider necessary and regard as an excuse for bitching about capitalism and for recommending more regulations and subsidies.

First you fuck with the free market and stop it doing its stuff.  Then you blame the free market and fuck with it some more.  See also: environment.

But I digress.  Last Wednesday was a very nice day.  As is today, by the look of it.

Sunday March 16 2014

I love weird window reflections, and these reflections bounced off partially broken windows are something else again:

image

Taken by me, April 19th 2007, besides the Regents’ Canal.

For more information about Ron’s Eel and Shell Fish, try this link: Ron’s Eel and Shell Fish.

Saturday March 08 2014

Taken by me, Thursday evening:

image

This was definitely the best picture I took during that little session, between leaving the meeting at the Rose and Crown and arriving at Blackfriars Tube on the other side of the river, but it always takes me a while to be able to see which are the best.  I think it is because I need to forget entirely about which ones I had highest hopes for at the time.

Tuesday March 04 2014

Incoming, entitled “Request Link Removal”:

Dear Brian,

I am contacting you on behalf of Eurostar, we work with their Online Marketing team and are currently reviewing the number of links pointing to the Eurostar website. In order to comply with Google’s regulations, there are a number of links which we are required to remove or nofollow. We have identified such links from your website and would like to request that you either remove the link or add a nofollow tag to it.

The link(s) we wish to be removed can be found here:
[original link written out but it doesn’t fit properly here]

Please can you let me know once you have altered the link or if you have any questions,

Kind Regards,
Marleen Vonk
SEO Account Executive
360i | 62-70 Shorts Gardens | Covent Garden| London, WC2H 9AH

The link in the above email is to an entire month of postings here, so it took me a while to find the offending link in question.  I was half hoping I wouldn’t find it, so I could send a sarky email back saying: Be more specific.  Which posting?  No such luck.  It’s in this posting, where is says “November”.  Worth following that link because it is to one of my very best ever (I think) photos.

I don’t understand what a “nofollow tag” is or how to make such a thing work, so I just removed the link.

My link originally went “http(semicolon)//stpancras.eurostar.com/en-gb/why-we-moving” (I’ve changed “:” to “(semicolon)” there to stop this version causing more grief).  Trying StPancrasDotEurostarDotCom now gets Google saying:

Oops! Google Chrome could not find stpancras.eurostar.com.  Did you mean: www.­eurostar.­com/­stpancras

Interesting that Google omits the question mark there, I think.

So, presumably this is a case of an old Eurostar website that they no longer want anyone reading.

Or is it?  I don’t know.  Can anyone tell me more about what just happened?

To me, it all has a slightly objectionable taste to it.  The link to our site no longer works, so you must remove your link to it.  Why?  Why can’t the link just not work any more?  Does it clog up the internet, or something, with repeated attempts to make the link work?  Is that what this is about?

Thursday February 20 2014

I don’t know how it works for you, but when I am waiting for a bus, I can think of nothing except the bus.  When will it arrive?  I need to know in advance, or I might not realise it has come and then miss it, by reading a book and ignoring it, for instance.  So, I squint obsessively into the distant place where the bus will first be visible.

When a bus does appear, the next question is: Is that the right bus?  I need to know.  But, my eyesight is terrible.  I can just about see that it’s a bus.  But what number bus?  Is it a number that will suit me?

Last Tuesday evening, I was waiting for a bus to arrive to take me to Chateau Samizdata.  For several long minutes, no bus appears, to replace the one I had just missed by about fifteen seconds.  Finally, one does appear, emerging from Parliament Square and preparing itself to make its way up Victoria Street, about half away along which I was standing in wait.  The usual paroxysm of infuriated uncertainty begins.  Will it be a bus numbered in a way that suits me and my intended journey.  The bus approaches with its inevitable and inevitably ridiculous slowness, waiting with an absurd deference to legality at the traffic lights next to New Scotland Yard, by which time I am finally able to discern that the number on the front is not the kind of number I want.  The wrong numbered bus arrives, and continues up Victoria Street, with me not on it.

Then, another bus appears in the far distance, and that is when inspiration strikes.  I realise that certainty regarding the suitability or unsuitability of the bus will come a whole lot sooner if I make use of my camera’s superior eyesight, compared to mine.  So, I cranked up the zoom to its maximum, and took this photograph:

image

That won’t win any photo-of-the-year competitions, but I had my answer just about straight away, what with my camera being able to zero in on the destination and number on its little digital screen.  Yes, a good bus.  It was another minute or more before I would have been able to confirm this information with my mere eyes, and that was a minute during which infuriated uncertainty was replaced by contented anticipation.

So, another impact of digital photography. Bus stops, for me, are now slightly more fun and slightly less annoying.

This posting also explains why I so greatly appreciate those electronic bus stop signs that tell you exactly what buses are due, approximately when.

Wednesday February 12 2014

I returned to the Radio Bar at the top of the Hotel ME on Saturday 7th of this month, when the weather was brighter and breezier.  I was in a hurry to be back for an appointment at home, and did not have time to really look at what I was photographing, and anyway, my eyesight is poor and I can’t see a lot of it if I want to.

So, for instance, when I took this picture, …:

image

… I thought I was photographing just the one big, obvious bridge, the one with the towers.  But it turned out that I was photographing seven bridges.  Newcastle eat your heart out.  Sorry about that big white circumcised cock in the foreground, getting in the way.  It looks like it’s doing radar, but I doubt that.

Moving on quickly from that, let me itemise the bridges, from nearest to furthest away.

Here is a google map which shows how this picture was possible.  Where it says ”ME” (photo manipulation is not my strong suit but I did manage to add that), at the far left, is where I was standing, so ME means both me and the hotel of that name.  Click on this map to get it bigger:

image

So, first, nearest to me, on the right of the big white cock, we can see pedestrians crossing the river on Blackfriars Bridge, the road version.

We cannot then see the isolated, do-nothing columns of the Blackfriars Railway Bridge that isn’t, so that doesn’t count.  But just beyond those columns, we do clearly see, second, the Blackfriars Railway Station Bridge that is, with its long line of slanting roofs.

Third, we can see the upper parts of the Millenium Bridge (featured in the bottom three pictures here, where there is also another snap of those weird Blackfriars columns), the footbridge that famously wobbled when first opened, which does about half the job of taking pedestrians between Tate Modern to St Paul’s Cathedral.

Fourth, slightly green despite being in the shade, is Southwark Bridge.

Fifth, there is the severely functional railway bridge that takes the trains from the south east over the river to Cannon Street Station.  You can just make out a clutch of signals at its left hand end as we look at it.

Sixth, we have “London Bridge”, and I can help adding sneer quotes.  What a come-down that bridge is from how London Bridge used to be.  No wonder so many people think that Tower Bridge is London Bridge.  The actual London Bridge is so boring.

One of the reasons I especially like the new Blackfriars Railway Station Bridge is that it sets a precedent for putting buildings on a London bridge, and makes it more likely that London Bridge itself might one day be rebuilt in something like its former glory.  Maybe not quite as tall as it once was, but with buildings on it, like Ponte Vecchio.  What would be particularly cool is if, just as in former times, a new London Bridge could be built, strong enough to be a platform for buildings, but if it was then left to individual plot owners to decide exactly what to put on each plot.

And finally, seventh, there is Tower Bridge, at the far right hand end of the map.

London.  It just keeps on getting better.

Monday February 03 2014

Here are an extraordinarily large number of photos of the Airbus A380, showing off at a Russian air show.

Here is one of my favourites, in the photoing-planes-from-above-and-yet-also-from-the-ground genre, that the A380 so likes to encourage, when showing off at air shows, the point being that for such a big airplane, this is a bit surprising:

image

I could be wrong, but somehow I don’t think a slogan like that – “Own the sky” - would be used in the primmer, prissier West, now so much more environmentally hesitant about jet airplanes.  Not environmentally hesitant enough to actually stop flying them and flying in them, you understand, but environmentally hesitant enough for everyone to pretend they feel bad about it.

I got a very similar shot of the A380 when it performed the same kind of dance routine at Farnborough, in the summer of 2010:

image

No mention of anyone owning the sky then, there.

Another difference you can see there - see planely, you might say - is the difference a better camera makes.  Happily my 2010 camera is not the one I use now, which is rather better.

Saturday January 18 2014

Photographed by me, in the Underground, in July of last year (those were the days (and these are not the days)):

image

I like the colour of that.  Click for a little more context.

Nice to have a posting that combines sport with poetry, as cricket used to do, rather a lot.

More thoughts about the poem here.  The complete poem here.  (For some idiot reason my blogging software turns “Lord’s” into “Lord/’s” in that link.  Remove the “/” in the URL to view the poem.  Anyone know what’s going on there?)

The more I ponder that “impact of digital photography” thing, the more I become convinced that the photographing of text is one of the most significant things that digital cameras do.

Saturday January 11 2014

On Thursday February 7th 2013, I did this long Photo-Odyssey (best relived by scrolling down through my February 2013 archive) which included passing through Westminster Tube Station.  (The description of the place I provided there still reads well, to my eye and ear.) But, at the time, I had not realised I was on a photo-odyssey.  That only started happening a bit later:

Had I known I was on a Blogged Odyssey, I would have taken many more shots, of all that dramatic open space with science fictiony structure in among it, supporting the building above and the escalators within, but on Thursday all I thought I was doing was taking the tube.

These are the sort of pictures I would have taken, had I taken them then:

image image imageimage image image

Those were taken, quite hurriedly, in between the two tube train photos in the previous posting, when changing from the Jubilee Line to the District Line, having been at a meeting in Southwark.  The last of these pictures, bottom right, has the look, to me, of being upside down.  Which is odd.

You may consider these photos a bit blurry and grey.  But to me, it’s amazing how well my latest camera, by far my favourite camera ever so far, does in low light such as the light that prevails inside Westminster Tube Station.  I have been grubbing through my archives to find out about how and when I started with digital photography.  That first camera would have just created hopeless blur had I attempted to do with it what I actually did do with my Panasonic Lumix FZ150.

You can, of course, see lots more snaps of this strange, strange place, by doing, e.g.: this.

In ten year’s time, this place will presumably be festooned with adverts, and those big rectangular spaces of nothing with be crammed with highly colourful and brightly lit window displays.  Why this has not already started happening, I do not know.  The architect perhaps?  Sooner or later, greed will assert itself.

Sunday January 05 2014

This seems like a not contemptible idea, although I am sure most of my libertarian friends would assume otherwise:

image

But what I want to know is: Will I be allowed to walk along it and take photos?  If so, then I’m definitely for it.  If not, then I say white elephant.  The very existence of such things, but with me banned from just being on them unless I bring a bike (an idea that terrifies and appals me), would drive me crazy.

I often try to take the perfect photo of Big Things in alignment, from inside trains.  But the windows covered in muck and the fact that the train is generally moving, generally ruin all such notions.  A continuous platform several yards higher, in the open air, which I could move along but crucially also just stand still on, and snap away anywhere on the line that suits, would be digital photography perfection.

I mean, there presumably has to be a bit at the edge where people can walk their bikes, for when the bikes go wrong, get a puncture, have a chain seizure, or something, or for when the cyclists themselves get damaged and become unable to ride anymore, like when they prang into each other and have to dismount, or have a heart attack and have to lie down.  Well, I could walk on that bit.  Why not?

It would also be good for occasional athletic competitions, by runners.  On Sundays, for instance.  If I’m allowed to walk on it, even if not all the time, I’d be generous about letting other nutters indulge in their enthusiasms too.

Aesthetically, I also quite like the idea.  Railways nowadays seem always to be covered in clutter, like aerial wires, signals, and so forth.  Having a platform on top of all this might actually make it look rather better.