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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: History

Tuesday March 19 2019

A friend has put this photo that he photoed on Facebook:

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If he objects to me using it, I’ll taking it down, but I doubt he will.

It illustrates two things.

(1) The arrival of a new kind of skyscraper, the Very Thin Big Thing.

(2) How much less of a nuisance trees are, photographically speaking, when not smothered in stupid leaves.  As it is, that photo is a fine addition to the Winter Tree With Big Thing Behind It photo-genre, which is a photo-genre I like a lot.  With leaves, it would be significantly duller.

Here is a Guardian piece which explains why these Big Thin Things are now happening in New York.  I now intend, although I promise nothing, to do a Samizdata piece in which I expand upon this circumstance.  Clue: the provisional title of this piece is “Law and liberty in New York”.  The point being that clear law says exactly what you may not do, but by so doing, it also says exactly - exactly - what you may do.  Unlike in Britain with its insane “planning permission” system, where you just have to hope that some random assemblage of local tyrants doesn’t take against the plan you’ve been working on for months, and where there’s now no way beforehand of guessing what these tyrants will decide.  In New York, if you follow the rules, you know you are allowed to build it.  Result: well, New York.

Friday March 15 2019

Some video that says a lot about a lot, here.

Tuesday March 12 2019

Well, I sat down to do a blog posting for here after a hard day doing this and that, but, while I was doing that blog posting, I was also half telly-watching, and I chanced, on my television, upon the classic episode of Porridge in which Fletcher keeps on being disturbed and ends up pushing the padre off the balcony (into a safety net).  Fletcher gets punished with three days in solitary, and the final line is him asking the governor if he couldn’t make it a fortnight.

Instead of a regular blog posting, let this be a recommendation.

Sunday February 24 2019

Well, well.  Look what I just found in the photo-archives.  I wasn’t looking for this photo. I just found it, while looking for just anything interesting to stick up here, instead of a proper posting, which I don’t have the energy for:

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That photo was photoed on April 20th 2006, according to my computer.

The reason I was so pleased to find the above photo is that I was photoing the very same edifice, this very afternoon.  This was a resolution I proclaimed to the world in this posting here, a few days ago.

I can now report that the Welbeck Street Car Park is, as of now, still there.  There’s no P on it, like there is in the above photo.  There are now, I believe, no cars in it.  It awaits demolition.  But it has yet to be demolished.  It is still all there.

Here is the similar photo I took today, that makes it look like the car park that it is:

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No P.  Different light.  Otherwise little seems to have changed.

Here is this same car park, bounced off the front of a car.

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That takes me back.  Time was when I was fascinated by what you could see in the shiny bits of cars.  But I don’t recall ever doing a car reflection photo as fun as that one.  It’s the pattern of the concrete that makes it.

This Welbeck Street Car Park thing is very interesting I think.  I mean, why the fuss about some manky old car park, just because its facade is made of triangular concrete lumps instead of the usual rectangular concrete lumps?  I promise nothing, but may even supply the answer to that question, some time.

Thursday February 21 2019

The Park Tower Knightsbridge Hotel is what Wikipedia calls it.  Sheraton now calls it the Sheraton Park Hotel. Whatever we call it, this is one of my favourite London buildings from the concrete monstrosity era, partly because nobody who worries about being aesthetically elevated likes the work of its architect Richard Seifert.  Such people also do not like One Kemble Street, or Centre Point, also by Seifert, either.  Too commercial.  Too brash.  Too assertive.  Too symmetrical.  Starchitecture before Starchitecture became chic, and not chic enough.

All the photos you see on the internet of this Park Hotel tend to look like this ...:

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… i.e. photoed from nearby, so that you can’t see the magnificence of the Roof Clutter on the top.

So now I will correct this regrettable imbalance, by inserting these views of the Park Hotel photoed by me last Friday from way off in the middle of Hyde Park, into the vast ocean of internet imagery, in the hope that public attention will be drawn to this wonderful and spontaneous assemblage of roof sculpture:

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I especially like that last one.  Trees, mist, and then Park Hotel, in soft focus.  Or, out of focus, as we digital snappers say.

Norman castles were evil stone monstrosities when first inflicted upon this green and pleasant land.  But as that style retreated, they turned into picturesque ruins.  The Concrete Monstrosity style is already in headlong retreat, and I like it more and more.

Memo to self: check out this car park, before they destroy it, which they have now decided that they will.

Tuesday February 19 2019

This afternoon I was in Bermondsey, seeing a man about a blog, and without doubt, the oddest photo I took in my Bermondsey wanderings today was this one, of a garage door:

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Here is a closer up view of the writing at the bottom:

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Click to get that a lot more legible.

Do you care about this?  It made me smile, but I really do not care if it is true.  If you do, and haven’t already acquainted yourself with this tale and made up your mind about it, then read this, which merely reports on the claim (made in 2008 by a mate of Tommy Steele’s), or this, which is more scornful, or this, which is very scornful indeed.  Elvis did fleetingly visit Scotland, apparently, but was stuck at the airport.  The most scornful of these reports is Scottish, assuming that I am correct in believing “Shields” to be in Scotland.  Can’t have the damn Sassenachs steeling their thunder.  Ho, ho.

Rather surprisingly, I only found one other photo featuring what I photoed today, here.  But that could just reflect my inadequacy as an internet searcher.

Friday February 08 2019

When I was a kid, “Air Forces Memorial” meant this building which looks out over Runnymede, and which was only a walk away from where we lived.

But there are, of course, several RAF Memorials in London, and here is a photo I often try to take but seldom do very well with, of the eagle which perches on this memorial:

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This eagle usually comes out blurry, with only the trees behind coming out well.  All that reflected light off the gold of the eagle seems to frazzle the brain of my camera.  But not on the Monday before last.

The above photo was taken from the other side of the river, with maximum zoom.  Swivel to the left a bit and you see this even more famous item, which is now, as already noted, smothered in scaffolding:

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I especially like the pile of staircases on the left of the scaffolding.

Tuesday February 05 2019

imageEmmanuel Todd has written another book, and it has been translated into English.  And, it is a book by Emmanuel Todd that I have been awaiting for a long time.  The title alone is the clue.  “From the Stone Age …”.  What that tells me is that there is at least a good chance that Todd will tell me something of how he thinks those distinct family structures of his, the ones that explain ideology and are among the causes of progress got established in the first place.

£30 is a lot to be paying for a book, and usually I wait for Amazon to do its thing and bring the price of such books down to a tenner.  But this time, I don’t think I’ll be wanting to wait like this.  I want this one as soon as I can get my hands and eyes on it.  On May 3rd, in other words.

Monday February 04 2019

6k: (I know someone who will like this picture …) Who can he mean?

He’s talking about this picture:

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I like it.  And like I say, the Age of the Smartphone will be with us for quite a while yet.

I can remember when places like the Louvre used to forbid photoing.  But they can hardly complain if students … take notes.

Last night I dined at Chateau Samizdata, which is in the Fulham Road.  I always get there early, but like to be exactly on time in order not to disrupt the preparations.  So, I typically walk about a bit, looking for photo-ops.

Last night I walked east along the Fulham Road towards the centre of London, and came upon Michelin House, which I knew was somewhere around there, but had never clocked before as being so very near to Chateau Samizdata.  This building occurs at the point where the Fulham Road is turning into Brompton Road.

It has a wonderfully eccentric stained glass window, at the front, at the top ...:

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… which had been thoughtfully lit from behind.

I image-googled this building, and I could not find this particular view of it.  There are one or two views to be seen of this window from inside the building, but none that home in on the window, in the dark, from the outside, with that all-important internal lighting.

I think that this window deserves to be viewable in as many ways as possible, from inside, and from outside.  As does the whole building.

I considered cropping my photo, but the photo exactly as taken supplies just that little bit of architectural context, so I left it as was.

Sunday February 03 2019

Last Sunday, I was again photoing photoers, among other favourite photoer spots, on Westminster Bridge:

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All four photos were chosen for their artistic effect rather than to make any point, but despite that, the point makes itself.  All smartphones.  I especially like the one with the Eiffel Tower on it.

The world is starting to speculate that the Age of the Smartphone may, like the Age of the Personal Computer before it, be drawing to a close.  But what this means is merely that the age of selling millions upon millions of new smartphones may be ending.  Smartphones will still go on being used, because people like them and have got used to them, and see no cause to jack them in for an only slightly better but hideously expensive replacement.  Similarly, I periodically upgrade the personal computer that I am typing this on, with new appendages which are now priced like the generic commodities that they are, but I have no plans to stop using this contraption.

Wednesday January 30 2019

I like One Kemble Street, and I like the BT (two links here) Tower.  So, imagine my delight when, while exploring my photo-vaults, I came across this very sweet Big Thing alignment, photoed from the top of the main bit of Tate Modern (i.e. not the taller Extension building behind):

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This was taken in February 2008.  Which means that that the BT Tower still had its big circular things attached.

Sunday January 27 2019

There was a meeting in my home last Friday, at which Simon Gibbs spoke, most eloquently and engagingly, about “What Libertarian Home Has Done Right”.  (I made him choose this title.  He is far too modest to have chosen it himself.)

Also on Friday, at this blog, I had already featured a cat photo, taken by my friend Dominique Lazanski.

What I had not expected was that Dominique Lazanski would get a mention in Simon’s talk, but she did.  Very favourably, as a Libertarian Home speaker who did much to soften the atmosphere of a series of meetings that might otherwise have remained rather beery and blokey and not sufficiently female friendly or, to use a word Simon likes a lot and which he himself epitomises, not “kind”.  Libertarianism is, after all, all about making the world better, which definitely includes kinder.

I had been intending to put up more than one Dominique photo on Friday, but meeting preparations meant that only the cat made it, that day.  Here are all the other photos I had already liked and set aside for here, along with a photo of a cup of coffee, which I added to the collection to get the number back to a convenient one:

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Click and enjoy.  Most of these little squares are mere excerpts from the originals, so you will have to click to enjoy.  But even if that doesn’t appeal, the basic point here is that Dominique Lazanski is, like many others these days, someone who combines taking very good photos with having a very full life doing other things besides taking photos.

This is the big photography story these days.  This big story is not how good the very best photographers, the Real Photographers as I refer to them here, are at taking photos and how very, very good their very best photos are.  No.  The big photography story these days is how good people like Dominique Lazanski are at taking photos.

To find out more of who Dominique Lazanski is, go to her website, or to here Twitter feed.  To explore all her Instagrammed photos, go here, that being where I encountered all of the above photos myself.

I chose my favourites, partly by particularly noticing the last two and the most recent of the above photos when they showed up on Facebook.  In addition to being a Dominique Lazanski friend I am a Dominique Lazanski “friend” on Facebook.  And the rest I found by simply clicking through all of her Instagrammed photos very fast, and noticing which ones I found myself pausing at.

Those drinks are included because I drank one of them myself, on Christmas Eve.

It could be that I am mishandling the Social Media, again, and spilling beans that are not mine to spill.  If Dominique finds out about this posting and informs me that she regrets it and would prefer to be living in a world which did not contain it, then this posting will be expunged forthwith.

Sunday January 20 2019

... but it ended up there.

This posting included the fact that I am out and about this evening, so here, today, that’s your lot.

Tuesday January 15 2019

Yes, I do believe it has finally happened.  Stokes, Woakes and Foakes are all in the same England cricket team.  Truly, an historic day.  Too bad Stokes is not Stoakes, and that Chris Woakes is not Ben Woakes.  As it is, we have to make do with Bens Stokes and Foakes, and Chris Woakes.

In other news: this.  My opinion?  What Steve says.