Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
6000 on ASI Boat Trip 9: The man driving the boat
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Alan Little on PID at the Times
Wedding Cufflinks on God was overheating and now needs radical transplant surgery (and Dawkins now has to do my email)
Michael jennings on ASI Boat Trip 9: The man driving the boat
Brian Micklethwait on ASI Boat Trip 9: The man driving the boat
Brian Micklethwait on ASI Boat Trip 9: The man driving the boat
Michael Jennings on ASI Boat Trip 9: The man driving the boat
6000 on God was overheating and now needs radical transplant surgery (and Dawkins now has to do my email)
Michael Jennings on My week in Brittany 2: A crane holding a bridge at Canning Town!
Most recent entries
- It turns out that lightning speed is immensely useful
- Out and about in the sunshine
- Brutalism with shirts
- Happy Friday (eventually)
- On not letting either God or (the other) God do everything
- A tumult of cranes (and the Spraycan)
- Postrel goes for Gray
- Xxxx-ie outside Xxxx-ridges
- Bond car
- BrianMicklethwaitDotCom musical quote of the day
- Parisian roof clutter gets the Real Photographer treatment
- God was overheating and now needs radical transplant surgery (and Dawkins now has to do my email)
- A swimming pool in a skyscraper
- God is dead
- PID at the Times
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6000 Miles from Civilisation
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Category archive: Signs and notices
I just heard someone say in an American TV sitcom (I love American TV sitcoms) that they’re not going to answer the phone without knowing who it is, “like it’s 1994”.
I still do this, with my old 1994 style phone, which I greatly prefer to mobiles, because when I am out and about, I don’t have to answer it, and because phones connected to your house with wire cannot be lost, and because I know exactly where it is when it rings, and because that ring never changes.
Quite often, when I do answer, it’s a junk phone call, offering to extricate me from a financial error that I personally have not made by urging me to commit another financial error, and as soon as I realise it’s junk, I put the phone down. Does this constitute some sort of “success” for the junk phoning enterprise? Look, they answered! Because obviously they knew who we were, this not being 1994, and yet still they picked up the phone! Hey, we’re getting through!
Much of life these days seems to consist of doing many futile things, but contriving for these things the appearance of non-futility. These days? I suspect all days that have ever been, with humans involved, and no doubt many other species also, both before and now during the human epoch. Only the futile things and the means of contriving a non-futile appearance for them change from time to time.
I don’t mind junk phone calls. If they were more frequent, they would annoy me. As it is, if there is a pause in incoming phone calls lasting a few hours, it is soothing to be informed, even if only by a robot actor voice spouting nonsense, that my phone is still working. The pause was because nobody wanted to talk to me.
When answering junk phone calls, I pause any music that may be playing. I do not mind this. There is a part of my brain (yours too?) where you remember the musical phrase you were listening to when you last paused the music, and when you unpause it you carry on listening just as you would have done normally. I even suspect that pausing deepens my response to particular pieces of music, by fixing particular moments of them in my brain more firmly than might have happened otherwise.
Since I am now rambling like the really old person that I am rapidly becoming, let me ramble some more. In connection with none of the above, here are the wheels of a big mobile crane that I photoed in Victoria Street a while back. Click on it to get the crane:
I like cranes. That one is, I think, the Spierings SK599-AT5. I love how you can find out about things like this, these days. And this time it really is these days, rather than all days.
Here is a link to a toy version of this crane. Do contractors use toys like this to plan their jobs, I wonder? As well as just to decorate their offices or amuse their spoilt children?
It is now late morning on Sunday. Are sermons like this, when the priest is getting old, but is too well liked for anyone to want to sack him? With a blog you can ramble anyway, because nobody can sack you.
City A.M. is now one of my go-to places first thing, and there I read today:
Transport for London (TfL) will be introducing screens displaying how many people are sitting upstairs and which seats are available, in a trial system to begin in two weeks.
The display screens will be situated next to the driver as people board the bus and between the driver and the staircase before passengers go upstairs.
I am struck by two electronic sign innovations that have already arrived on the London transport scene.
There are those invaluable signs at bus stops, telling you what is due, when, and where it will go. The only problem with these signs is that not every bus stop has them. I know, I know, you can crank up the bus app on your mobile. But I prefer not to have to bother, and anyway, that’s a lot of fuss just for a bus. (Note the vagiaries of the spelling there.)
And the other innovation, much more recent, is those little signs that tell pedestrians - i.e. me - how many seconds will elapse before the pedestrian sign will be turning red. Very helpful. I don’t want to freak out motorists by getting in their way, but nor do I want to neglect an opportunity to cross if I can do so without freaking out the motorists. These latest signs tell me what I need to know. And it’s amazing how far you can travel in three seconds, if you know that three seconds is all that you have, but that you definitely do have three seconds.
So, will these new sign inside buses be any use? Judging by earlier TfL electronic signage efforts, my guess is yes.
(More rhyming fun with esses (?) there. It could so easily have been and gues and yess. And before that, fus and buss. (Does such tangenting pis you off? (And are you fed up with this multiple bracket gag? (This, I think, being the record.))))
As politically controlled entities go, TfL is not too shabby, although goodness knows what it costs. Especially given that they are now dragging their feet (which is all it will take for Uber to get truly motoring in London) when it comes to crushing Uber. It’s the same mentality, d’you think? TfL likes electronic signage, whether the signs are public or personal. Could be. Do you think the next thing will be big public Uber signs that you can use to whistle up cheap and cheerful transport, if you don’t have a mobile on you? Again: could be.
I love to look at modern buildings, before they are finished and covered up. All sorts of strange things are to be seen, that may or may not soon disappear from view.
What, for example, is this peculiar structure, which I photographed this afternoon, on the south side of Oxford Street?
Here is the original shot I took, before I cropped, rotated, and so forth:
I include that because there may be clues as to what the Thing is from its context.
But what will this Thing end up looking like? Will it be covered up? Will ladders be involved? I don’t know, but I’ll keep you posted.
I’ll also do something obvious that I failed to even attempt this afternoon, which is I’ll try to photo whatever signs on the site I could find, that might enable me to chase down a website with maybe a mock-up of what the final Thing will look like. I keep telling myself to do this kind of thing, and telling other digital photographers that they should do this kind of thing. But today, I was not concentrating on photography, I was concentrating on shopping. Trying to buy a new jacket. And I forgot to search out signs. Mistake.
But correctable. I can go back. London is what I love to photograph and if I get it wrong, I can try again. If the weather is bad I can wait until it’s nicer. It’s not like this Thing is in a foreign city I was in last month, and I’m stuck here never being able to photo those signs. I can go back there, find those signs, if they are there, and chase down that website, if it exists.
Taken by? No prizes for guessing who. Country? “Poland/Georgia”. Date? “Jan/Feb” of this year. That’s what it said in the email.
Indeed. Another full day, and no time for argued and explicated profundities. Can’t do that under time pressure, and when I am longing for bed. So, a quota Strata photo:
I like the way there are two kinds of green light there.
And of course, I like the sign about scaffolding, because I like scaffolding, and I like signs.
I like to browse through Jonathan Gewirtz’s photos from time to time, and on my latest browse I came across this photo, of a brightly lit building in Urban Florida. Miami? Don’t know, and it doesn’t matter.
What particularly got my attention was the fact that Gewirtz included in the picture: his own shadow.
I have taken the liberty of reproducing this detail here. “Copyright ©2011 Jonathan Gewirtz” is what it says just before saying “jonathangewirtz.com”, but I trust my little except does not break any rules. (Rules often being the point of copyright violations, I’m guessing. Maybe this particular copyright violation, on its own, would not be a problem, but once the line is crossed, by anyone ...) If Gewirtz wants this little piece of his work removed, he has only to say and it will be removed forthwith.
Okay, with that out of the way, the point that I want to make here is that I suspect that this thing of including your own shadow in pictures is a practice that has filtered upwards to the Real Photographers like Jonathan Gewirtz, from us digital amateurs.
Your own shadow in the picture often starts as a mistake, but then you think: well, okay, that’s my shadow, but what’s so wrong with that? I was standing there, with the sun behind me. I mean, did you think this wasn’t a photograph, and that someone standing there throwing a shadow into the picture wasn’t even there? Did you think that God took the picture? Cameras gobble up whatever they see in that moment, and in this moment, for instance, my shadow was part of what it saw. Often, the shadow is all there is, and very amusing it is too.
The crux of the matter is, I think, who the picture is for and what the point of it is. Is it for someone else, someone paying? Is perhaps a happy couple being photographed on their wedding day? In which case, they are the point, not the photographer. Likewise if the point is to photo this dish of salad, or that house interior, or this beloved pet or that sports team, well, the Real Photographer is not being paid to insert himself into the scene, and he will be careful not to.
But if, on the other hand, you are a snapper who is just having a bit of fun, then why shouldn’t you, the snapper, also become your own snappee?
But the thing is, when Real Photographers are out having fun, the way Jonathan Gewirtz presumably is when taking photos in Miami or wherever, just because he likes to, they are liable to take their ingrained Real Photographer habits of self-effacement with them. So, interesting that Gewirtz did not do this, at any rate not this time.
I’ll end with a slice out of one of these photos:
The crooked forefinger being mine.
This picture, taken a week ago, across the road from St Thomas’ Hospital, makes me think of that old Transport Blog that me and my gang used to write for:
Public proclamations of this sort mean, I believe, that you somewhat forfeit your anonymity. I could have cropped this photo down to the transport only, but did not feel obliged to.
The trick for doing photography entertainingly is to acquire more and more specialisms, more and more things you like to photo a lot. And one of my favourite specialisms is: interesting vehicles. Often old ones, like, e.g., this one.
Vehicles like this one, which I spotted in the Strand yesterday, while out and about with Goddaughter 2.
What is interesting about it is that it looks like one of those ye olde buses (permanently open back door for instance) that now only does things like weddings and corporate jollifications. I have many photographs, including many, I dare say, of this actual bus, to prove this. Yet here it is, apparently (judging by what it says at the back of it) doing regular bus stuff.
True, it is specialising in famous tourist spots, like St Paul’s and the Tower of London. Even so, odd. If tourists can ride about in such a bus, why can’t regular Londoners?
Actually it’s National Theatre Bookshop. But I prefer my edited version.
So I made my way to the Opening Do of LLFF14 earlier this evening, at a bar near Kings Cross Station. On my way, the light was so good I just had to take some photos. Not many, but those I did take came out very nicely. These three were my favourites. The first is me looking back along Pentonville Road at St Pancras Station. To think they were once going to knock this down. The second is just a random piece of domestic architecture. And the third I took because it looked like it had some rather good cushion type things, such as I might want to buy if I ever get around to making myself a sofa:
The Do itself was great, until eventually the noise of everyone shouting at each other became more than I could take. As I said to someone, I couldn’t even hear myself talk. Not hearing others was bad enough, but when I couldn’t even hear the sound of my own voice, well, there went one of my deepest pleasures in life. So I left. That wasn’t a problem. The main business of LLFF takes place during the day, on Saturday and Sunday, and I will of course return.
On my way from the bar back to Kings Cross tube, I got very lost, despite having my Smartphone with me, with its invaluable map app. And that was when I noticed something very odd and different about this part of London, compared to where I live. No helpful signposts, telling you where the nearest tube is, or where Kings Cross or St Pancras Stations are. I’m guessing because this is a part of town where tourists tend not to go, and most people there just know all that sort of stuff already. Apart from me.
On Sunday morning, just before attempting to visit a friend, I discovered that I did not have my wallet in its usual pocket. Frantic search around my home, nothing. Must have left it somewhere on Saturday. But where? Frantic expedition to the supermarket in Lower Marsh, which I visited on Saturday evening. No. Nothing. Start walking back home. Then remember, was in Marie’s Cafe, Lower Marsh, after being in supermarket. It has to be there. But, it’s Sunday. Will Marie’s Cafe in Lower Marsh be open? Go back past supermarket to Marie’s Cafe. Shut. Only when I go back to Marie’s Cafe yesterday do I discover that they have it. All is present and correct. Debit card, money, other crap.
Thank you Marie’s Cafe:
So, basically, I am back to where I was on Saturday night. But, feel ludicrously happy for all the rest of Monday. And am happy still.
To quote myself, after an earlier episode of a similar sort:
The ridiculousness of the pleasure I now feel is that all I did was correct a stupid mistake, with much fuss and bother and dust up my nose.
This time around, the dust up the nose was only metaphorical. That time it was literal, because that previous piece of error correction was error correction that involved a vacuum cleaner.
But pleasure is what I feel, and I am going now to continue to enjoy it.
Marie’s Cafe has for some time now been my favourite eating out place in London. Used to be the West End Kitchen in Panton Street. Mainly it’s the food, and what it costs. But there is also the fact that all the classical CD places in the West End have vanished and only Gramex, also in Lower Marsh, remains.
I see that the latest review at the other end of that link say that Marie’s Cafe is “overrated and overcrowded”. Which is hardly her fault. Personally, what I especially like is that there is a table for one right near the front door that is almost never in use, and I have started sitting there whatever the scrimmage state elsewhere.
Two photos of signs, taken on the south side of the river between Lambeth Bridge and Westminster Bridge, about a fortnight ago.
On the left, some of the verbiage on this statue. My reason for showing it here is simply that I think this writing photographs so very well:
And on the right, snapped moments later, another sign, on the side of a coffee stall. It must be a very old joke indeed, but I was encountering it for the first time.
In general, signs make very good photos, I think.
On Monday last I attended a BBC Radio 4 event, at which Evan Davis interviewed Deirdre McCloskey:
Yes that is the same screen, and it remained the same colour throughout. In “reality” I mean. If you were there, which I was.
But digital cameras, when set on “automatic” as mine always is, have minds of their own when it comes to colour. One picture happens to have a lot of a certain colour in it, and it changes the overall colour of everything to compensate. For instance, when you take indoor pictures but there is outdoor sky to be seen, then even if in reality the sky is deepest grey, the camera turns the sky deepest blue, and the indoor bits orange. Likewise, when the sky is blue, but if you are outdoors, the camera, for no reason, is liable to fill a clear blue sky with pollution and turn it a sort of slate colour. What was happening here is that these two pictures are both cropped. But the left one was only cropped a bit, while the left one was cropped a lot. And the stuff that got cropped out of the left one meant that the screen was no longer green. It was blue.
As to what Deidre McCloskey actually said, well the thing I was most intrigued by was that she was entirely cool about being asked about how she used to be Donald McCloskey. In which connection, don’t you just love how that circumstance is alluded to in this:
That’s an article reproduced at her website. So, is that her handwriting? Could well be.
I doubt the medical side of the switch was as easy to do as that.
The libertarian propaganda side of this is that McCloskey is a character, rather than just a boring bod in a suit. The usual evasive sneers against pro-capitalists just won’t work on her. And I even think it helps that (maybe because of those medical dramas - don’t know) her voice is a strange hybrid of male and female, often sounding a bit like electrical feedback. She also has a slight but definite stutter.
The reason I feel entitled to mention all this is that it clearly does not bother her, or if it does she has learned very well to stop it bothering her, and indeed to make a communicational virtue of it all. I guess she figures if you are saying interesting stuff, it really doesn’t matter if your voice sounds a bit funny and if people sometimes have to wait a second or two before hearing the next bit of it. In fact it probably even helps, because it gets everyone listening, proactively as it were, guessing what is coming instead of just hearing it.
See also: Hawking.
I think that’s my most recent selfie, taken at the beginning of this month. I took it in Croydon Road, Beckenham, while on my way to visit friends. Shop windows often include you in the pictures you take through them, even if you are not trying for that.
I of course have more recent pictures of others taking selfies of the more usual sort, where their own faces dominate the pictures, but with famous Big Things in the background. So yes, let me try to dig out the latest of those.
Here we go:
Although, note that there are two different smartphones being used there. That was taken from the southern end of Westminster Bridge, looking down to the riverside walkway. They are presumably trying to include the Houses of Parliament in their backgrounds.
That at any rate is the date that all the workers working on it have given me, when I asked them:
Although, I suspect that the word “local” is supermarketese for “half as expensive again as you would like”. Fair enough, their gaff their rules. And it all helps. Even if the only consequences are that the other local late-night stores drop their prices by a few pennies and keep their milk a bit colder, well, every little helps.
But then again, see the picture on the left where it says “Great OFFERS” three times over. So, maybe the downward price pressure radiating from this new place will be quite substantial.
I also think it’s a very smart move to feature the opening time very prominently on the front. No matter how often I am told which shop stays open until when, I forget, and 6am-11pm every day is nice and easy.
The shops that are being replaced by this Morrisons are (a) a Jessops camera shop, and (b) a remainder bookshop. Both replaced by the internet, presumably. But, if you are caught short for sugar or coffee or cheap wine at 10.30pm, the internet doesn’t do it.