Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
Jual Tahitian Noni extra on Deirdre McCloskey - The Great Enrichment – Using a smartphone as a mirror
MarkR on Goodbye PhotoCat – hello PhotoPad
Brian Micklethwait on Deirdre McCloskey - The Great Enrichment – Using a smartphone as a mirror
Rob Fisher on Deirdre McCloskey - The Great Enrichment – Using a smartphone as a mirror
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Friday Night Smoke on Safe cracks in an airplane window
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Most recent entries
- Played 6 – Won 0 – Drawn 3 – Lost 3
- I want to write more here about music
- South of France signs
- Keeping up appearances at One Palace Street
- Goodbye PhotoCat – hello PhotoPad
- Incoming imagery from Antoine
- A bridge in Narbonne
- South of France electronic clutter
- Deirdre McCloskey - The Great Enrichment – Using a smartphone as a mirror
- Bird takes off from a TV aerial
- Benevolent Laissez-Faire photos
- Horizontal French signs
- A house in France that is not faceless
- Safe cracks in an airplane window
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6000 Miles from Civilisation
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Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise
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we make money not art
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Category archive: This blog
I’m posting the photos below of these various ladies which I took yesterday outside Westminster Abbey, (a) because I like them and hope that you do too, but also (b) because I am checking out a new way to present photos here.
The problem has been how to contrive horizontal spaces between little photos. I’m doing it a different way here, which I hope gives me tighter control over the ultimate width of space occupied, and thus avoids the final one of a horizontal set of them (in this case just the two) spilling over, at some magnifications and/or on some devices, onto a newly created next line.
Well according to my posting software, that’s working.
If anyone sees anything weird of ugly, rather than two photos on the top next to each other (with a small gap in between) and then another below them and exactly the same width as the combined width of the two photos above plus the gap, please leave a comment.
All three photos are the result of my quest to make faces unrecognisable to computers. The top two show no faces at all. The two faces below? Well, do those sunglasses do the anonymity job? I hope so.
Reflective sunglasses like these certainly provide me with lots of photo-fun. The lady on the left as we look has both Big Ben and the selfie stick she was using reflected in her glasses, twice. The lady on the right has this church, next to Westminster Abbey, reflected in her specs. Click on it and you’ll see all this more clearly.
And I love those coloured finger nails, top right.
Indeed. While searching through the archives for this picture, I came upon this one:
I’d just seen a Superman v Batman poster in the tube, so this 3D Batmovie advert jumped out at me, metaphorically speaking. The photo was taken in May 2008, so anyone who cares can work out which Batmovie that would be.
I like the highly appropriate architectural background. That being, I think (supercommenter Alastair may want to correct me), County Hall.
Here’s a Superheroine, photoed moments later:
I’m guessing that’s Lara Croft.
Later I took this snap, of the appendages of a slightly less superheroic figure:
The South Bank of the River Thames abounds with people dressed up in strange costumes, soliciting money. I say not so superheroic, but these figures do at least remain superheroically immobile.
Now that the weather has at last changed from wintry to springy, I am about to go out to take more snaps, and I wanted my blogging duties here done before all that. And now they are.
Well, the New Year (even though the New Year is actually getting quite old now) Resolution here, to blog early, and sometimes even to blog often, is working well. I haven’t delayed going to bed because of this blog for about a week, and I sense that this may even continue.
Friday is my day for cats, and now also for other creatures, and already this Friday, even though it not yet even the middle of the day, there has already been a posting here about dogs. Republican dogs. That posting is right below this one, but there’s the link anyway.
And here now is another creature posting, about a truly unique other creature - half cat, yes, but also half dog, half bee, half zebra, and wholly suitcase - of the sort that kids can ride, at airports, to stop them getting bored:
Apparently Trunki made the first of these, and then some Hong Kong guys did a cheaper knock-off, and Trunki complained. Trunki lost.
These cases - the physical (suit)case and the legal case - illustrate the fine line that divides a design from an idea:
But five Supreme Court justices unanimously disagreed, and ruled in favour of PMS on Wednesday – stating that while it had “sympathy for Magmatic”, the “Design Right is intended to protect designs not ideas”.
It looks a lot like a design being copied to me. Not that I mind. And actually, I think the Hong Kong version is better, because the original can’t make up its mind whether its eyes are eyes or horns. HK case resolves this by having eyes and horns.
PMS website: here.
I have found that if I write things down here, I tend to remember them, and think about about them.
This has worked when I needed to train myself to do searches for things, rather than just living in a perpetual state of ignorant curiosity, like you had to before the internet came along. Being quite old and set in my ways when the internet arrived, I found adapting to the new reality rather hard.
If what I write down concerns something I have photoed and want to hot more of, then I tend to be more alert, having written about whatever it was, to further photo-ops along similar lines.
And now, I am hoping that if I write here about doing stuff here first thing, or nearly first thing, in the morning, that will make me more likely to do that. That way, I won’t be scrabbling about, as I was last night, putting up any old rubbish here, to keep my one-a-day record here going, for however long it’s been going. The big problem with that being that it keeps me awake at the exact time when I need to be getting to sleep and then getting up decently early the next morning, and have time to get my blogging here done nice and early. I want the right sort of feedback loop rather than the wrong sort.
So much of success in life is habit, and I want to cultivate the habit of doing my self-imposed duty here nice and early in the day, so that the rest of the day then becomes freer for me to do more consequential things. Late is better than nothing, but early would be much better, and when I do early it is much better.
Everyone says that the rule for these sorts of resolutions is to phrase them to yourself positively rather than negatively. Say and picture what you want, rather than what you want to avoid. If you say and picture what you want to avoid, your subconscious will see that picture, and do that, while not attending to the “don’t” bit, the subsconscious being strong with pictures but not so good with words and with weird abstractions like “avoid”. Phrasing and picturing it positively means you are presenting to your subconscious the kind of picture you want your subconscious to take absorb and act upon.
And the reason everyone says all of that is because, if my experience is anything to go by, all of that is very true. So here I am picturing what I want to do. Not hard, since I am now doing that exact thing.
At that excellent party last night, the one that gave rise to last night’s spectacular non sequitur of a posting, Rob Fisher mentioned that he had thoughts from time to time which are too inconsequential and un-thought-through for Samizdata, but which are still definitely thoughts that he wants to put out there, but for which he has no outlet. He used to have a personal blog, but not since he started writing for Samizdata.
My response was this: Write these thoughts down. Send them to BrianMicklethwaitDotCom, explicitly identifying them as submissions to BrianMicklethwaitDotCom. And the chances, overwhelmingly, are that I will post them here as guest postings. After all, as last night’s spectacular non sequitur of a posting illustrates, the quality control here is very, very relaxed. Sometimes stuff here is good, but it absolutely doesn’t have to be. It just has to be stuff.
I just wanted to make that clear, in case Rob has forgotten, or has remembered but thought that I was just rambling drunkenly and didn’t mean it.
This is not a general invitation to all of my acquaintances to bombard me with drunken would-be bloggage. And it is certainly not an invitation to wanker social media PR slaves to “submit” boring pieces about things I don’t care about by people I don’t care about, sometimes hinting at money that I will never get, and causing my email address to get onto yet more lists, wielded by yet more wanker social media PR slaves. Not that me saying that will put these wanker social media PR slaves off. But I just wanted to get it out there.
The plan was that this week, I would be catching up with myself on the blogging front. Instead I have found myself going out and doing things, and I have got even further behind.
So it is again this evening. After another busy day doing things, I have time and energy left now only to show you a snap I took of a shop window display somewhere in Oxford Street:
Yes, it’s a Star Wars stormtrooper facing a communications crisis, and improvising, with some obsolete and inconveniently large equipment.
I love shop window displays, especially at Christmas Time of course, when they erupt into Vesuvii of invention. Again, these are not things that you would want to buy, even the bits of them that are for sale. But I do enjoy photoing them. Not least because they are usually very well lit.
One of the things I have had to learn as a blogger is to go ahead with my little photo essays, even if I absolutely know that there are more relevant photos to be found in my archives, which I would love to include if only I could find them quickly. When that happens, I should just go ahead anyway. If I later encounter the photos I would like to have included the first time around, fine. I should do another posting and link back to the first one.
You are probably expecting a photo here, to back up the above point …:
… so there is a photo. It’s a nice photo. But it doesn’t really make the point above it. Perhaps, somewhere in my archives, there is a photo which does exactly make that point. But, it would take too long for me to find it.
It’s been a very bad last few days here at BMdotcom. First there was the domain name fiasco, and then last night and into this morning there was another interruption, caused by a power cut in a totally different part of London to me, which was in its turn caused by all that rain we had recently. And then the interruption was prolonged by the mishandling of this power cut by my rather creeky and out-of-date version of Expression Engine. The two events were unrelated. I think there’s a Macbeth quote that deals with this kind of thing. One of those plays about a king for whom things are starting to go badly wrong. But rest assured that there is no sign that BMdotcom is about to be dethroned permanently.
So anyway, here is one of those photo-postings made quick and easy by my “I just like them!” directory.
I just like this, taken in 2007:
And I just like this, taken a month ago:
That second one was already edited and ready to post, with its new name, but I don’t believe I ever got around to actually displaying it. If I did, well, take another look.
I do not promise more substantial stuff tomorrow, but I do hope for it.
Excellent piece in the Daily Mash about photography and its impact, entitled Everyone sad because of photo of thing that’s been happening for months. I only just noticed this piece, probably because it didn’t include a photograph:
It has been confirmed that everyone kind of knew the thing was happening, but now they are very sad and angry because there is a photo of it.
The thing about a photo is that a vivid photo can tell a story very quickly, this being why this particular one is getting around so much and being talked about so much. Not necessarily a true story, not straight away, but a story. And that’s what you want, if you are The Media. The Media sell stories. Truth, factual and/or moral, is nice too, but not the essence of the product. That photos do their job well is not a “conscience” thing. It is a speed of communication thing. Photos communicate a lot very quickly.
The speed with which a picture tells a story is why I have so many photos here. This is a kitten blog. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and it doesn’t expect you to take it seriously, unless you want to. My photos don’t consume your time, unless you want them to. Often, I only tell my stories here at all if I have a photo. It would take too long to explain with mere words, and anyway, what would be the point?
Headlines aren’t necessarily true either. In fact, I would say that the biggest media lies are to be found in photos and in headlines. Photos typically lie, when they do lie, by omission. Headlines just lie, and you can often tell they’re lies simply be reading the story under them.
Why do headlines lie? Because that often makes for a more appealing story. The truth is usually more mundane. But mundane doesn’t get you eyeballs.
By which I mean the wait for Eclipse to update (or whatever it has to do) its DNS (domain name system), in such a way that it enables me to reach my own damned website.
As it is, the one way I can reach my own website is by using an alternative route, which works fine, except for the small matter of it not connecting to the rest of the internet. Each time I start that up, I have to restart my computer.
It’s like I never left the twentieth century. That kind of thing is fine if it’s voluntary, like me having lots of CDs because I like them, and still carrying books made of cardboard and paper with me in the tube and on buses. But this is like I’ve been kidnapped by Time Lords and spat out of their Tardis in about 1996. Which may not be long by their standards, but for me, it is most inconvenient. Actually it is weirder than that, now that I think about it, because I have the internet, but no email. And, rather unusually for me, I have urgent stuff I need to do, involving email. And I really, really don’t want to have another email address. I hate it when other people have several different email addresses, and I don’t want to do that to others. But, if this crap doesn’t end soon, I will have to do that. After that, maybe a discussion with Eclipse about whether they continue to be my internet provider.
I am not a happy kitten blogger:
I found that picture of a pissed off cat wearing spectacles ... somewhere, but since I can’t check if links work, no link to where that was.
I am being told that this could all go away at any moment. But, which moment?
And how long will all the other internet providers take to re-acknowledge BMdotcom’s existence? That’s another worry.
This blog is suffering from problems caused by me failing to re-register my domain name. This has now been done, and it should all be up and running Real Soon Now. But apparently it can take time for people to re-connect to here. Glad you have succeeded. (Because you can’t be reading this if you haven’t succeeded.) It was all I could do to get through to my blog myself, and post this, because my regular method is still not working.
Anyway, here are some random photos, just to be sure that I can also post a photo:
On the left there is a close-up photo I took in France, of part of The Internet. Not all of The Internet; that would be crazy. Just a bit of it. No wonder the bloody thing keeps breaking down. And on the right, the instructions for The Internet. Although, to be fair, these pictures were taken nine years ago, so things may have improved a bit since then. Now, for instance, it can’t any longer be: “A VOS BLOGS!”, but instead: “A TWITTER”, or Tweet Air as they presumably call it over there.
No links to anything else in this, because I am now only getting to my own website, but not to anywhere else. And if you understand that, then maybe you can explain it to me. Don’t try emailing me until I tell you you can, because I can’t receive them yet either.
Indeed. What on earth was I thinking, posting - on a Thursday, rather than today, Friday, the traditional BMdotcom day for cat-related items - a piece that starts with how computers are rather bad at recognising cats? I only even realised that the cat category should be attached to the posting just now. Oh well.
Anyway, more cat news, which I did deliberately hold back until today, is that the mega-behemothic-super-industry that is Hello Kitty is making a deliberate play for more male customers, with T-shirts decorated with such things as the picture you see to your right. But, will such images repel human females? You can imagine the high level debates that the Hello Kitty high ups (I somehow imagine them to be mostly men) must have been having about this issue, of such fundamental importance to their brand.
More cat news? I need a bit more to be sure that the picture there doesn’t bash its way into the posting below (even though that would be rather appropriate). Well, I am sad to report that for some people, the most interesting thing about the death of Terry Pratchett (good quote that – that’s the sort of thing he will be really missed for) was that he had a cat sleeping on his bed at the time.
Spent the day writing half a talk about sport as a replacement for war, for Christian Michel. But, on the night (i.e. tonight), I just winged it. One of the better talks I’ve ever given, which admittedly isn’t saying much. And one of the most shambolically prepared. Now knackered and watching the Wildcard Playoff Highlights on C4. More considered content should follow, Real Soon Now.
The error messages have continued, so all I will do this evening is post this. Back home tomorrow evening, and I hope things work better there. The temptation to attempt another picture posting is huge, but I will resist.
No I won’t. That went so well, I’ll give it a go:
Like I said, see you tomorrow.
I have swapped one kind of computing confusion, too complicated even to describe, for another, and am now using a French keyboard, but telling the computer I am using that this keyboard is really British. This means various letters on the keyboard being in the wrong place, such as the Q and the A, which are where the A and the Q ought to be. There are other confusions, of a more serious sort.
This is a very peculiar experience for a touch typist like me, because it means that I can now only touch type. I cannot pause and go find the correct letters, because I do not know them, or not the ones that cause all the trouble. Only my fingers do.
So it is touch typing, or no typing at all.
Which is better than French typing, but still very imperfect, because some of the regular British things are things which my fingers are not that good at, most notably inverted commas, both single and double. This is why I said it is in the previous paragraph rather than abbreviating it, and why I am saying it is in this sentence, twice, without any inverted commas to indicate that I am quoting myself.
I seem to recall that faced with this dilemma on a previous French expedition, I had to make do with the computer recognising the French keyboard I was using as French, which meant switching As and Qs, etc. The alternative arrangement is somewhat better, but only somewhat.
Luckily my fingers know how to do two important things, neither of which are in the same place on these keyboards, namely commas, and full stops.
Another oddity is that the spellchecking in my blog input process demands that all words be recognisably French, and so underlines most words, because of them not being French, thus rendering itself inutile, and yes that is how you spell inutile. But, sorry about all the other spelling errors in this.