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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: Movies

Monday November 12 2018

Just over a year ago, I wrote here about a dead person on some British stamps (the late David Bowie), which is the usual thing, and also about some non-royal still alive people on British stamps (England’s 2005 Ashes winners), which is most unusual.

Now, admittedly under assumed names, here come some more still alive people on British stamps:

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Details here.

This sort of thing is probably the only reason most people ever buy stamps these days.

Friday November 09 2018

Friday used to be my day here for “Cats” and then I expanded it also to “Other creatures”.  I hadn’t thought of anything creaturely to blog about, and hoped that when I went out walking today, I might encounter something appropriate.  I didn’t have to wait long.  Within yards of my home, I encountered these creatures:

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Police horses and their riders are often to be seen in the SW1 part of London, presumably just getting exercise in between riot situations.

Coincidentally, I recently had a discussion with someone on the subject of what work horses still do, following their replacement as transport by trains and cars and the like, and as warriors by such things as tanks.  Well, they still entertain us, by racing against one another, and by acting the parts of real transport horses or real war horses in historical dramas, mostly on the screen, but occasionally live.

But apart from that?  The only thing we could think of was assisting the police by participating in riot control.  I surmise that horses are called upon to do this because they combine being very scary to humans on foot, with their scary hooves with metal shoes on, with also being so very cute.  That way, rioters are dissuaded from trying to hurt such horses.  If rioters do actually hurt any horses, they incur the wrath of the general public in a way that rioters do not when they merely attack human riot police.  Horses combine being very formidable riot opponents with the fact that their presence at riots is very clearly not being their fault.  In a way, they are merely victims of such riots, victimised by the demands placed upon them.  We sympathise with them already, just because they have to attend riots.  If the rioters attack them, we sympathise even more.  Our sympathy may be excessive, but we feel it.  This places rioters in an impossible bind.  They like to think of themselves as heroes.  But heroes don’t torment horses.  Only villains do that.

Are there any other ways that horses make themselves useful to humans?  Perhaps my problem is that I am urban.  Out there in the country, in spots where vehicles still have problems, there must be such uses.  Transport in hilly or mountainous country?  Oh yes, cowboy horses, herding cows!  Silly me.  I can’t think of any more just now, but I bet if I continue to imagine the non-city parts of the world, more horse jobs will pop into my head, the way that cow-herding just did.

Fox hunting doesn’t count.  That used to be a real thing, when there were no other ways to combat foxes.  But now, fox hunting is just country folk having historical-re-enactment fun.

Tuesday November 06 2018

I remember, during the reign of President Bush Jnr., how I used to blog about how photography was used to glorify President Bush.  Well, here’s another political photo of a rather similar sort, which has been an open window on my computer for some time:

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What I find entertaining about this photo is the extreme contrast between the clearly very humdrum appearance, for real, of the old guy in the photo, and the way that (I suspect) pushing just one Photoshop button has turned this same guy into something almost heroic.

The headline above the photo is telling:

The most consequential conservative leader of the century? He’s still alive, in office and owed an apology

The old guy in the photo-edited photo is US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whom the Tea Party people used to regard as a waste-of-space sell-out, but who is now being lauded to the skies by the Trumpsters.

Says Jewish Chronicle writer Marc A. Thiessen:

While President Trump deserves credit for making outstanding judicial nominations, long before Trump declared his candidacy McConnell was laying the groundwork for a conservative transformation of the federal judiciary. It was, he told me in an interview last week, “entirely premeditated.”

McConnell reminds me of a particular American actor, whom I recall having seen in a number of movies.  Trouble is, that actor is the sort of actor you recognise the face of, but whose name you never quite register.  It’s that sort of face.

Thursday September 20 2018

To me, nothing says Abroad quite like a poster, somewhere in Abroad, advertising an English speaking movie, whose English title I already know, with a foreign title that is different, but with all the same star names:

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La Taupe means The Mole.  I preferred the TV series, but I love this poster.  Photoed by me in Paris in February 2012.

As was this, on the same expedition:

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In the same directory, I encountered other photos of posters advertising the following movies: Drive (Ryan Gosling), Ghost Rider (Nicolas Cage), Underworld (Kate Beckingsale), and Star Wars Episode 1 (whoever).  But in those posters, the titles stayed in their original English.  Why?

Friday September 07 2018

Driverless cars will happen, eventually.  But when they do, who knows what they will be like, or look like, what they will do or not do, what other changes they will precipitate?  When this finally happens, it will surely be the railways, or the internet, in the sense that it will be big, and that nobody now knows how big or what the details will consist of.

Two driverless vehicle articles came to my attention today, both of which illustrate how very different driverless vehicles could end up being to the vehicles we are now familiar with.

This Dezeen report reports on a scheme by Land Rover to put eyes on the front of driverless vehicles, to communicate with pedestrians, the way pedestrians now look at the faces of drivers to negotiate who goes where, when.  Makes sense.  With no driver, and the vehicle driving itself, it could use a face, or else how will the vehicle be able to participate in after-you-no-after-you-no-afteryou-no-I-insist-so-do-I sessions?

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So, does a robot with a working face (in due course robot faces will be a lot better than that one) count as: “Other creatures”?  I say: yes (see below).

Will the Thomas the Tank Engine books prove to be a prophetic glimpse into the future of transport?  Eat your hearts out, SF movies.  Didn’t see that coming, did you?

And here is a posting about how people might choose to sleep in driverless vehicles on long journeys, instead of going by air.  The problem with going by air being that you have to go by airport, and that sleeping in the typical airplane is for many impossibly uncomfortable.  But, if we do sleep on long distance driverless vehicles, what will we do about going to the toilet?  Stop at a toilet sounds like an answer.  But what will the toilet be like?  Might it also be a vehicle?

The point is: nobody knows how driverless vehicles will play out.  Except to say that if they look like cars and vans and lorries look now, that would be an insanely improbable coincidence.

LATER: More about those eyes here.

Friday August 24 2018

Here are two fun and silly and consequently viral animal videos that I was recently shown on Twitter, but they both raise a non-trivial question about animals and their degree of self-awareness.

First up, a cat looks in a mirror, and is surely not aware that the other cat is him/her.  Cats are much stupider than they seem to us, because their basic method of going about things is the way a wise human goes about things, often rather slowly, carefully and thoughtfully, or else in a way that looks very alert and clever But, often they are thick as several planks.

Meanwhile, a dog watches herself on TV doing one of those canine obstacle courses in a show.  Dogs behave like stupid humans, with wildly excessive enthusiasm for stupid things, and consequently we tend to think of them as being very rather stupid.  But the typical dog is a lot cleverer than the typical cat, I believe.  Dogs don’t care how stupid they look.  Cats typically don’t either, but cats typically behave like they do care about looking stupid, unless you dangle something in front of them on a string, at which point they go crazy, unless they are too old to care.

But back to my self-awareness point.

As commenter “Matt” says, of the dog watching herself on TV:

This is amazing I hope she knows its her.

In other words, Matt is no more certain than I am that she does know it’s her.  Maybe she’s watching a totally different dog do what she likes to do, and she’s excited about that, just like any other sports fan.

The cat video ends with a variation on what seems to be a regular internet gag about misbehaving reflections (that vid being in the comments on the cat vid), but that’s a different story.  Someone else adds a Marx Brother, or maybe it’s actually two Marx Brothers, doing the same gag, in those far off days before there was an internet.

Thursday July 19 2018

Here.

image

Basically it’s a drone that can twiddle two of its propellers.  A robotised, propeller version of a Harrier Jump Jet.

However, the notion that flying cars will reduce or avoid traffic congestion is absurd.  Once such contraptions are finally made to work, they will not reduce or avoid traffic congestion They will cause traffic congestion to take to the skies.  They will give a new dimension to what is now a merely two dimensional phenomenon, and not in a good way.

Enjoy these days of big, empty, blue skies, while you still can.

Thursday July 12 2018

Photoed by me last Monday, from the train on the way back from Denmark Hill (which is where I also photoed that helipad (better to scroll down to that)):

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The train being the explanation for that reflection, on the right there.

At the time, of course, I was merely going for that rather splendid Big Thing Alignment, of The Shard with The City Big Thing Cluster.  And at the time, I was merely regretting that it probably wouldn’t come out quite as sharply as I’d have liked, and so it proved.

What I was not going for was a machine in a foreground with the words “REACH FOR THE SK...” on its arm.  Presumably reach for the SKY.  Which is, I think, rather suitable.

Shame I didn’t quite get all of that little slogan, but I got enough for the photo to be worth showing here.

Monday June 25 2018

No posting here yesterday, because from mid afternoon onwards this site could not be reached, either by readers or by the writer, i.e. me.  Sorry about that, but all seems to be sorted now, as it had to be for me to be able to post this.

I also had email problems, and just when I really did not need them. The Sunday evening before the last Friday of the month is when I do a mass(-ish) email about my forthcoming Last Friday of the Month meeting.  (This time: Prof Tim Evans on Corbyn.) But, it would seem that the emails all got through, even if replies to them were only getting back to me at around midday today.

When you have problems like this, then as soon as they’re sorted the worrisomeness graph nosedives from VERY BAD!!!! to profound happiness:

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Which is always a better feeling than, logically, it deserves to be, considering that all that happened was that something bad happened and then stopped.  But when badness stops, that feels very good, even if, logically, it is only things getting back to normal.

Tuesday May 22 2018

Ten years ago, to the very day, I took these photos.  Two are of regular heroes, Indiana Jones and Lara Croft; and two are heroes of the Super variety, Batman, and Superman:

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The above heroes were, of course, not real.  They were plasticated sculptures, standing outside the old London County Council building, to advertise movies, presumably.

It’s interesting – is it not? - that no such statues are erected to honour real people.  Or none that I knowe of.  Those are still done in monochromatic metal.

I’ve just seen how the photos have worked out.  Indy is trying to whip Superman.  And Lara Croft is shooting Superman.  Both of which seem rather unwise.

Monday May 21 2018

I spent most of the time I had available today for blogging working on a piece about Dominic Frisby, in connection with this.  I want to sleep on it rather than shove it up tonight, but it should be up at Samizdata tomorrow.

So here is a quota movie poster, on the side of a bus, which I photoed in Paris, when I was there recently:

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I don’t love movies as much as I used to, but I still love movie posters.  And I especially love them when they are advertising an Anglo-movie to non-Anglos.

Saturday February 17 2018

I still get cheques through the post, and then I insert these cheques into my bank account by going physically to my local physical branch of my unlocal bank and by handing the cheques over to a cashier.  My bank, however, doesn’t like this.  Just like Tesco, they want me to do the work.  In Tesco’s case they now demand that I become my own check-out person and operate their computers for them.  So, it’s Sainsbury’s and Waitrose for me, from now on.  Bye bye Tesco.  In the bank’s case, they want me to do their work for them while I sit at home.  But, I like the exercise.  In the huge bank queue, I get to read a book concentratedly, because there is nothing else to do.  Good.

All of which is a preamble to the fact that when I came across this, I LedOL:

“Are you aware that you can now do all of this online?”

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Genius.  K. J. Lamb, well done.

One of the many techniques they use to put you off actually going to the physical local branch of your Big Bank is to keep changing the people behind the bars.  And these total strangers are constantly, and insultingly, asking you to prove that you are who you are.  Well, madam, I’ve been banking with your bank for the last half century.  Who the hell are you?  Please could you give me proof that you actually do work here?

Someone should make a movie about a twenty first century bank robbery, where the robbers, who are disgruntled ex-employees of the Big Bank that owns the bank branch they bust into, bust into the bank branch, overpower the witless bunch of newbies who happen to be running the place that day, and park them all in a back room for the day with tape over their months, and then the robbers run the bank all day long, while one of their number hacks into the mainframe computer of the Big Bank that owns everything, and sucks all the money out of it.  The point is: none of the customers who visit the branch while all this is happening would find it in the slightest bit odd to be confronted by a bunch of total strangers.  That would ring no alarm bells at all, because this happens all the time.

Saturday February 03 2018

Yes, I don’t think I’ll ever get totally tired to taking photos of photoers, like the ones below, all taken during a recent walk with my friend Tony (who is GodDaughter2’s Dad) along Victoria Street, past Westminster Abbey and Parliament, and then on over the River and past the Wheel.

Lots of woolly hats and gloves and furry clothes, and hair.  I especially like how the hair of the lady in 2.2 is lit up green, and also a bit of red.

Click and enjoy:

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Seven smartphones.  Two old school cameras, like my one.  Smartphones have totally swallowed the dedicated-but-little camera market, although you do still see them around.

Saturday January 27 2018

Well, I’m making some progress on the Wordpress front, and there will be a new BMblog, but meanwhile, the last of the photos I want to show you that I took on Jan 5.  I took the tube back home, but chose to get out at Victoria rather than Pimlico, probably to try to buy the Gramophone, which I can now, near to me, only buy there.  And because I did that, I was able to feast my eyes on this:

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That is the late afternoon sun crashing through where the trains go in an out, and bouncing off various reflective surfaces.

I like how this kind of scene permits bright colours, like those little union jacks, but turns fainter colours monochrome, like when that little girl in a red coat appears in Schindler’s List.

I particularly like this little part of the scene:

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What I love about sights like that is the way the sun turns those lights on.  No electricity is involved.  It’s pure sunlight.

Friday January 19 2018

Indeed:

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At the time I took that photo, in Lower Marsh, I was with someone else, and just grabbed the shot before moving on at once.  But I reckon it came out really well.

Wikipedia tells us of Mickey Mouse’s compiucated origin.  He was a replacement for a rabbit, and before a mouse was arrived at, it seems that many other animals were considered:

Mickey Mouse was created as a replacement for Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, an earlier cartoon character created by the Disney studio for Charles Mintz, a film producer who distributed product through Universal Studios. In the spring of 1928, with the series going strong, Disney asked Mintz for an increase in the budget. But Mintz instead demanded that Walt take a 20 percent budget cut, and as leverage, he reminded Disney that Universal owned the character, and revealed that he had already signed most of Disney’s current employees to his new contract. Angrily, Disney refused the deal and returned to produce the final Oswald cartoons he contractually owed Mintz. Disney was dismayed at the betrayal by his staff but determined to restart from scratch. The new Disney Studio initially consisted of animator Ub Iwerks and a loyal apprentice artist, Les Clark, who together with Wilfred Jackson were among the few who remained loyal to Walt. One lesson Disney learned from the experience was to thereafter always make sure that he owned all rights to the characters produced by his company.

In the spring of 1928, Disney asked Ub Iwerks to start drawing up new character ideas. Iwerks tried sketches of various animals, such as dogs and cats, but none of these appealed to Disney. A female cow and male horse were also rejected. They would later turn up as Clarabelle Cow and Horace Horsecollar. A male frog was also rejected. It would later show up in Iwerks’ own Flip the Frog series. Walt Disney got the inspiration for Mickey Mouse from a tame mouse at his desk at Laugh-O-Gram Studio in Kansas City, Missouri. In 1925, Hugh Harman drew some sketches of mice around a photograph of Walt Disney. These inspired Ub Iwerks to create a new mouse character for Disney. “Mortimer Mouse” had been Disney’s original name for the character before his wife, Lillian, convinced him to change it, and ultimately Mickey Mouse came to be.

Those two paragraphs are, at Wikipedia, crammed with links.  Follow the link above and scroll down to where it says “Origin”, if you want to follow any of these links.

I will, however, honour the amazingly named Ub Iwerks with a link from here.  I wonder how he was pronounced.  His dad was from Germany, and I think I know how they’d have said the name there.  But, Ub (!?!) was born in Kansas.  When it came to Amercans pronouncing foreign names, all bets were off.  My guess is there were lots of Germans where the Iwerks family grew up, and thus it was not felt necessary to do any name changing.

Blog and learn.