Brian Micklethwait's Blog

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


Recent Comments

Monthly Archives

Most recent entries


Advanced Search

Other Blogs I write for

Brian Micklethwait's Education Blog

CNE Competition
CNE Intellectual Property
Transport Blog


2 Blowhards
6000 Miles from Civilisation
A Decent Muesli
Adventures in Capitalism
Alan Little
Albion's Seedling
Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise
Alex Singleton
Another Food Blog
Antoine Clarke
Antoine Clarke's Election Watch
Armed and Dangerous
Art Of The State Blog
Biased BBC
Bishop Hill
Bloggers Blog
Blognor Regis
Blowing Smoke
Boatang & Demetriou
Boing Boing
Boris Johnson
Brazen Careerist
Bryan Appleyard
Burning Our Money
Cafe Hayek
Charlie's Diary
Chase me ladies, I'm in the cavalry
Chicago Boyz
China Law Blog
Cicero's Songs
City Comforts
Civilian Gun Self-Defense Blog
Clay Shirky
Climate Resistance
Climate Skeptic
Coffee & Complexity
Coffee House
Communities Dominate Brands
Confused of Calcutta
Conservative Party Reptile
Contra Niche
Contrary Brin
Counting Cats in Zanzibar
Скрипучая беседка
Dave Barry
Davids Medienkritik
David Thompson
Deleted by tomorrow
diamond geezer
Dizzy Thinks
Don't Hold Your Breath
Douglas Carswell Blog
Dr Robert Lefever
Dr. Weevil
Englands Freedome, Souldiers Rights
English Cut
English Russia
EU Referendum
Ezra Levant
Everything I Say is Right
Fat Man on a Keyboard
Ferraris for all
Flickr blog
Freeborn John
Freedom and Whisky
From The Barrel of a Gun
Fugitive Ink
Future Perfect
Gaping Void
Gates of Vienna
Global Warming Politics
Greg Mankiw's Blog
Guido Fawkes' blog
Here Comes Everybody
Hit & Run
House of Dumb
Iain Dale's Diary
Idiot Toys
India Uncut
Jackie Danicki
James Delingpole
James Fallows
Jeffrey Archer's Official Blog
Jessica Duchen's classical music blog
Jihad Watch
Joanne Jacobs
Johan Norberg
John Redwood
Jonathan's Photoblog
Kristine Lowe
Laissez Faire Books
Last of the Few
Lessig Blog
Libertarian Alliance: Blog
Liberty Alone
Liberty Dad - a World Without Dictators
Lib on the United Kingdom
Little Man, What Now?
listen missy
Loic Le Meur Blog
L'Ombre de l'Olivier
London Daily Photo
Mad Housewife
Mangan's Miscellany
Marginal Revolution
Mark Wadsworth
Media Influencer
Melanie Phillips
Metamagician and the Hellfire Club
Michael Jennings
Michael J. Totten's Middle East Journal
Mick Hartley
More Than Mind Games
mr eugenides
Mutualist Blog: Free Market Anti-Capitalism
My Boyfriend Is A Twat
My Other Stuff
Natalie Solent
Nation of Shopkeepers
Never Trust a Hippy
NO2ID NewsBlog
Non Diet Weight Loss
Nurses for Reform blog
Obnoxio The Clown
Oddity Central
Oliver Kamm
On an Overgrown Path
One Man & His Blog
Owlthoughts of a peripatetic pedant
Oxford Libertarian Society /blog
Patri's Peripatetic Peregrinations
Picking Losers
Pigeon Blog
Police Inspector Blog
Power Line
Private Sector Development blog
Publius Pundit
Rachel Lucas
Remember I'm the Bloody Architect
Rob's Blog
Setting The World To Rights
Shane Greer
Shanghaiist The Violin Blog
Sinclair's Musings
Slipped Disc
Sky Watching My World
Social Affairs Unit
Squander Two Blog
Stephen Fry
Stuff White People Like
Stumbling and Mumbling
Style Bubble
Sunset Gun
Survival Arts
Susan Hill
Technology Liberation Front
The Adam Smith Institute Blog
The Agitator
The AntRant
The Becker-Posner Blog
The Belgravia Dispatch
The Belmont Club
The Big Blog Company
The Big Picture
the blog of dave cole
The Corridor of Uncertainty (a Cricket blog)
The Croydonian
The Daily Ablution
The Devil's Advocate
The Devil's Kitchen
The Dissident Frogman
The Distributed Republic
The Early Days of a Better Nation
The Examined Life
The Filter^
The Fly Bottle
The Freeway to Serfdom
The Future of Music
The Futurist
The Happiness Project
The Jarndyce Blog
The London Fog
The Long Tail
The Lumber Room
The Online Photographer
The Only Winning Move
The Policeman's Blog
The Road to Surfdom
The Sharpener
The Speculist
The Surfer
The Wedding Photography Blog
The Welfare State We're In
things magazine
Tim Blair
Tim Harford
Tim Worstall
Transterrestrial Musings
UK Commentators - Laban Tall's Blog
UK Libertarian Party
Unqualified Offerings
Violins and Starships
Virginia Postrel
we make money not art
What Do I Know?
What's Up With That?
Where the grass is greener
White Sun of the Desert
Why Evolution Is True
Your Freedom and Ours


Mainstream Media

The Sun
This is London


RSS 1.0
RSS 2.0


Billion Monkeys
Bits from books
Bloggers and blogging
Brian Micklethwait podcasts
Career counselling
Cats and kittens
Civil liberties
Classical music
Computer graphics
Current events
Digital photographers
Emmanuel Todd
Expression Engine
Food and drink
Getting old
How the mind works
Intellectual property
Kevin Dowd
Latin America
Media and journalism
Middle East and Islam
My blog ruins
My photographs
Open Source
Other creatures
Pop music
Quote unquote
Roof clutter
Science fiction
Signs and notices
Social Media
South America
The internet
The Micklethwait Clock
This and that
This blog

Category archive: Design

Friday March 16 2018

I’m trying to wrench my sleep patterns back into something like sanity, and this now leaves me very tired.  Which is the plan working, but it makes blogging rather difficult.  So, today, one photo, and that’s your lot:


Plus, although I’m tired, here is a detail, that emphasises the flamingo aspect:


The relevant bit of the website.

Monday March 12 2018

On March 21st, Roz Watkins, author of The Devil’s Dice, will be signing copies of that book at Waterstone’s Piccadilly, an event which I will attend.  This afternoon, finding myself in that part of London on account of needing a new battery for my ancient Casio watch, I dropped in on Waterstones to see what, if anything, they were doing with the book.

They had just one copy on show, in a New Crime Hardbacks display:


Can you spot it?  Memo to self: If I ever design a book cover, make the title on the front either in dark lettering with a light background, or with light lettering on a dark background.  The Devil’s Dice, with its light orange title on a light coloured sky, is second from the right, bottom row (on account of Watkins beginning with W).  Another memo to self: When I become a published author, have a surname starting with a letter near the beginning of the alphabet, rather than almost at the end.

Anyway, here’s a close-up of it, just so you know it was really there:


I needed another copy of the book, because I gave the advance copy Roz sent me to someone else.  But I was reluctant to buy the only copy of The Devil’s Dice that they had on show, thus depriving Waterstonians of any further sight of it.  I asked at the desk if they had a paperback.  Oh no, they said, not for at least six months.  I asked if they had any more copies on order.  Yes, said the lady, sounding rather impressed when her computer told her, we have eighty copies coming, ordered this morning.

I have no idea what that means.  Maybe those copies are just for the book signing, and maybe many will be sent back after that.  But maybe this is good, and reflects how well the original launch in Derby went, assuming that this did go well.  Anyway, with eighty more copies on their way to Waterstones, I bought that one copy that they had today.

See also, The Devil’s Dice with dog, in Waterstones Brighton.  Again, right down by the floor with the other Ws.

Thursday February 22 2018

There were so many fun things in Churchill’s underground wartime lair.  Some of my favourites were not to be seen among the genuine antiquities.  Rather were they mere reproductions, on sale in the gift shop.  Of these, I think this one, a wartime poster, spoke to me most eloquently, from that far off time, just a handful of years before I was born:


I have always been very careful to refrain from dressing extravagantly.

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:


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.

Thursday February 01 2018

Once more I find myself at tomorrow morning, without a posting here.  However, as luck would have it, I was photoing Pavlova today, my two favourites being this … :


… , and this:


The sign.

The clock.

Friday January 26 2018

Do you remember when those things started appearing on top of the cabs of articulated lorries, like the bonnets of Volkswagens, for pushing the air upwards, over the rest of the lorry.  Something to do with the price of petrol having got so high that it made sense to buy a big lump of metal to stick on the lorry, just for the sake of lowering the air resistance and thereby saving a small amount of petrol?

And do you further remember how, in due course, lorry cabs started appearing where the lump on the roof of the cab had been incorporated into the design of the cab?

Course you do.

Well, now, something similar has happened with those scooters that delivery guys ride about on, delivering stuff.  They used to be regular scooters, but with a big cube of a box attached to the scooter at the back.  Regular scooter, big box attached.

But now, take a look at this:


That was photoed by me this afternoon, in Warwick Way, when I was out shopping earlier this evening.

And that’s right.  The box is now seemlessly incorporated into the design of the scooter.

I did not see this coming.  I should have.  But I didn’t.

Friday January 19 2018



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.

Wednesday January 10 2018

Incoming from GodDaughter2:


Pimlico in Kensington, said the email, photoed near her place of work.  She knows the kind of thing I like, doesn’t she?

Are such vans rare and exotic in Kensington?  I see them all the time, in and around Pimlico.

Saturday January 06 2018

Jan 6 is the last day for being Christmassy, right?  Twelfth Night?  After today, all things Christmas forbidden?

So, having taken these early this evening, through the front window of the Oxfam shop in Strutton Ground, they have to go up now, or just join the queue to be Christmassy next Christmas, which means never.

So, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, 50% off, to all my readers:


Also a turkey, a squirrel, a robin, two rabbits, a reindeer, and some crackers.  And that really is Christmas and the New Year totally done.  Happy middle of January to all.

It seems that the consensus is that Twelfth Night is actually Jan 5:

People believed that tree spirits lived in festive decorations and while you look after them over Christmas, if you don’t release them afterwards this could have consequences for the rest of the year. They also believed that vegetation would not grow and there would be agricultural problems and food shortages.

I instinctively feel that the same thing applies to displaying Christmas cards in your shop window.  Gives a whole new meaning to the word Oxfam.

Friday January 05 2018

My Christmas greetings to all my devoted readers were rather perfunctory, so here are some more.  What’s that you say?  Too late?  But I photoed them today:


All I thought I was doing with the one on the left was photoing one of those sneeky, panoramic selfies in a shop window, with me in a mirror, but also lots of other diverting diversions and reflections.  And on the one on the right?  I thought that was just a comedy monster and a frying pan.  But, they both say Merry Christmas, several times, still.

Click on this next one, taken a Blackfriars station, and you’ll see lots more Other Creatures, besides reindeers, such as birds, a butterfly, a fly, and even seven cats, on a birthday card:


Also: top right, a Christmas turkey.  Also, I’m guessing: reduced.

Tuesday January 02 2018

I’ve not yet finished what was going to be today’s posting, so here, to be going on with, is a link to this Londonist list of eleven things to look forward to in London in 2018.  From their list, my bronze, silver and gold medalists are:

Bronze: Crossrail.

Silver: The new Spurs stadium.

Gold: The swimming pool in the sky.

Here is what that Gold medalist will, we must all hope, look like:


Says Londonist:

It’s been over two years since it was announced that London was getting a swimming pool in the sky, right next to the new U.S. Embassy, and it’s finally diving onto the London skyline in 2018. The bad news: it’s not for you - unless you are one of the lucky few who could afford to splash out on an apartment in Nine Elms’ Embassy Gardens development (starting price £602,000). The rest of us will have to make do with our local leisure centre.

But I don’t want to live there.  What I want to know is: Will I be able to photo other people swimming in the sky pool?  I’m guessing it’ll be out of public sight.

Maybe you are thinking: Yes, but that’s a bit pervey.  If you are thinking that, I agree.  It is.  But the best photos often are.

Sunday December 17 2017

This Is Why I’m Broke has recently featured a couple of new travelling things to stand on.  There was the Exodeck Off-Road Skateboard:


And there were these Chariot Skates:


I realise that the Exodeck Off-Road Skateboard supposedly doesn’t need any sort of artificial surface to travel on.  But, I bet a flat surface is easier.  And of course a flat surface is very necessary indeed for the Chariot Skates.

And, it just so happens, there is an absolute mania for new flat surfaces sweeping across the world, in the guise of dedicated cycle tracks and newly expanded pedestrian areas.  The war against the automobile continues apace, and the result will be not mere walking or cycling, but lots of new kinds of mobility, like the two pictured above.

Whenever I encounter devices of this sort in London, which I do more and more often, I try to photo them.  Not always very successfully, to put it mildly.  Often they’re gone before I’ve even put down my shopping, but sometimes: not.  Sadly, a quick search for such a photo yielded nothing, but next time I bump into one in my archives, I’ll do another posting on this subject.

Sunday December 10 2017

There are two places in London where I regularly encounter antique cars, in other words the sort of cars that were new at the time when I was a new human being.  One of these places is Lower Marsh, where there are regular convocations of such cars, which I have regularly bumped into when shopping at Gramex for second hand CDs, which was until very recently in Lower Marsh.

And the other place where antique cars can often been seen is outside the Regency Cafe, which is about two minutes walk away from where I live.  Antique cars congregate there in order to contribute to television shows or films set in olden times, the self-consciously dated Regency Cafe being a regular location for such dramas.

I recall being rather surprised to encounter these two ancient Austins were doing, even nearer to where I live than the Regency Cafe, in the summer of 2013.  What are they do?  Answer: they had been or about to be performing outside the Regency Cafe.  Enjoy:


I am meeting someone tomorrow morning at the Regency Cafe.  I haven’t actually used this place very often, other than to photo old cars and showbiz activity outside it, but I think I will eat in it rather more in the future.

Friday December 08 2017

My journey to St Albans yesterday began rather inauspiciously.  I was changing at St Pancras International, and I had hoped that I might get the chance to view the International bit, with its wide open spaces, Eurostar trains and its mighty roof.  But all I did was follow the signs to “Platform B”, and that weary plod might has well have been at Green Park or Oxford Circus, for all the wide-open-spaced drama there was to be seen.  And then when I was on the train, the scene outside was grim, grey and wet.

But then, I noticed the seats.  The surprising thing about these was that instead of resting on the floor of the carriage, they were attached to the walls of the carriage, leaving the floor entirely unencumbered.  They hovered over that floor with very little visible means of support:


Here are two closer-ups, showing the diagonal compression member that was doing all the worke:


It looked crazy, but it felt as solid as a rock.  Solider in fact, when you consider the state of a lot of rocks you encounter on your travels.

What I think I see here is not so much a design for a railway carriage, as a design of a system for making railway carriages, just the way you want them.  And for changing them, if you suddenly decide you want them to be different.  If you wanted to redo the seating on these carriages, all you would do is undo the linear compartment at the point where the wall of the carriage nears the floor of the carriage, and make whatever changes you want.  Different seats, differently spaced, whatever.  The floor is untouched.  If you want to change the surface of the floor, easy.  When it comes to cleaning the floor, also easy.

I have a nostalgic fondness for the railway carriages of my youth, with their absurdly thick, manually operated doors, that you had to slam shut, and which all had to be shut before the train could depart.  But whereas I genuinely like old cars, I cannot really mourn those old carriages.  These new ones are just so much better.  For starters, they are wider on the inside by about two feet, because the walls are so much thinner and because these walls curve outwards.

I also like how the latest carriages join together in a way that allows people to walk continuously through, thereby easing congestion at busy times.  Here’s a rather good photo from Wikipedia which shows that.  According to Wikipedia there have been complaints about there being too little leg room between the seats, and no miniature fold-down tables.

They have their reasons for imposing such discomforts.  Basically, they want to enable the maximum number of commuters to be able to travel in okay comfort, rather than allow a lesser number of commuters to travel in greater comfort.  Which makes sense.

My point is different.  My point is that if it is later decided, perhaps in response to such grumbles, to switch to having slightly more generously spaced seats, with little fold-down tables, this would be a relatively easy operation to unleash.  Newly introduced carriages could be differently configured with great ease, without needing a totally new design.

There is much to complain about in the modern world, but stuff like this just gets cleverer and cleverer.

Saturday December 02 2017

Indeed.  I was going through the I Just Like It file, and came across two, independently selected, which make a nice pair.

First, taken in November 2012, the Walkie-Talkie while still under construction, viewed from the top of the Monument:


And second, taken in January 2016, the Monument now just about visible in the scrimmage of smaller London


The Walkie-Talkie looks very big from the top of the Monument.

The Monument looks very small from the top of the Walkie-Talkie.

And while we’re about it, here is another photo that links these two buildings.  Taken on that same day in November 2012, back on the ground, with a little sign on the right there, saying “Pudding Lane”. 


The Monument remembers those who died in the Great Fire of London of 1666.  Pudding Lane, or so I was always told, was where that fire started.

Also, three days after taking that photo of the Monument from above, above, I took this photo of the Monument from below, along with another sign, this time a temporary sign telling me how to get to the Monument:


The way to get to the Monument was not, it would seem, the obvious way to get to the Monument.