Brian Micklethwait's Blog
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Brian Micklethwait on "Real Democracy Now" in Parliament Square this afternoon
Rocco on "Real Democracy Now" in Parliament Square this afternoon
Six Thousand on Some batsman – some neck
Darren on Some batsman – some neck
Michael Jennings on Thoughts on habits and on changing incentives with the passing of time
Rob Fisher on Thoughts on habits and on changing incentives with the passing of time
James on Charlie Hebdo demo in Trafalgar Square
Brian Micklethwait on Charlie Hebdo demo in Trafalgar Square
Tom on Charlie Hebdo demo in Trafalgar Square
Tom on Golden Gate being built – Severn Road Bridge ditto – C20 photography – Hitler's paintings
Most recent entries
- Drone on the White House lawn
- BMdotcom What if? of the day
- Move over CND
- Photographers - photographers with hats (one of the hats being rather scary)
- “Real Democracy Now” in Parliament Square this afternoon
- Big cats jacket
- Drugs drones
- Some batsman – some neck
- Thoughts on habits and on changing incentives with the passing of time
- BMdotcom (mathematical (and sporting)) quote of the day
- Two pictures of the Shard behind some railings
- Smartphones and tablets at the Charlie Hebdo demo
- A feline Friday at Guido
- Hand done photos
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Category archive: London
What the hell was I thinking, putting up this photo of that demo, when I also had this one to show you:
Two men who are, between them, wearing five different items of headgear. The majority of them rather interesting.
Before and after perusing the remains of that demo I chanced upon yesterday, I was photographing photographers. Here are a few of them:
As you can see from the top left snap, he is photoing Westminster Abbey, and those two dramatic crouching shots, top middle and top right, are of photographers wanting to get the upper reaches rather than the lower reaches of Westminster Abbey in the background behind their friends.
Several quite good additions to the Interesting Hats sub-directory there, especially the gent, middle left, who looks to me like he’s in The Hunt For Red October. Is he being post-modern and ironic? Or does he, perchance, actually mean it? Either way, I don’t like it. I mean, do people now wander around London with swastikas in their hats? But, if you were guessing who the spy was, you’d have to pick the one in the Union Jack hat.
The lady bottom middle is a bit out of focus. But, her hat gets her included nevertheless.
And the gent at the bottom left is not very bald, but he is a bit. He makes it into that sub-directory.
Today, a fine looking day, a day in which many were to be seen wearing both gloves and sunglasses, I went awandering, down Victoria Street to Parliament Square, and then on across the River.
And in Parliament Square, I chanced upon a demo. I hope to do a longer bit at Samizdata, hopefully tomorrow, about this demo. In the meantime, here is a little horizontality, helpfully laid on by the demonstrators:
Click to get the original bigger picture.
If you want further thoughts from me about “that fatuous construct of political malcontents” called real democracy, follow that link.
And see also what I put in this piece about the Charlie Hebdo demo in Trafalgar Square:
… this was not your usual demo, the sort of demo perpetrated by the demonstrating classes ...
Today’s demo was exactly your usual demo. Here is a report of what they were trying to do, that being something to do with “Occupy”. From where I was standing, they failed.
I couldn’t find mainstream media coverage about this demo between this afternoon and now, which could just mean that there was lots and I didn’t find it. Comments on that very welcome.
LATER: Here is an Evening Standard report. It seems that what I saw was a failed Occupy demo, bolted onto the end of a somewhat more successful CND demo against Trident.
ALSO: Daily Mail.
Since it’s Friday, here is a picture I took of the back of someone’s jacket on Waterloo Bridge last Monday:
Click on that to get the original big picture.
This posting is a bit of an experiment, because the two pictures embedded in it may not be small enough, to start with, and may have to be made smaller, after all those of you who hang on my every posting, and see it immediately, have seen it immediately. Also, I want to put them on both sides of the posting, and that may not work either. So, patience everyone, and be ready to endure graphic juggling, because these are the kind of things that my posting software is bad at showing me. I have to see evertything in situ, to be sure.
So, to get to the point, what this is about is the way that very small pictures sometimes look quite different to the exact same pictures, but larger, a theme also explored in this posting. And the idea is that the two pictures will go, on the left and on the right, at the top of this paragraph. De-dum de-dum de-dum, computer crap computer crap. Well, touch wood, this is working. There was a bit of fiddling with the instructions about putting pictures on the right or on the left, but I finally cracked that and made it happen.
The point of all this is that the pictures, when small, look quite similar. The only very obvious difference is that on the left there are rather more verticals in the railings to be seen. But click on the pictures and get them ten times larger, and you will see that the focussing is quite different. In the one on the left, the railings are the front are in focus and the Shard is barely discernible behind them. On the right, the big picture shows the Shard quite clearly while the railings are very blurry. Okay, the small pictures are not identical, and alert viewers may have detected the very difference that I say is so unclear in the small pictures, but the small pictures are much more similar to each other than the large ones are.
One of the many morals to be drawn from this is that the bigger the screen on your camera is the better, because the bigger the picture, the easier it is to tell exactly what that picture looks like. This is yet another reason why people who take pictures with tablets, the cameras with the biggest screens of all, are being very sensible. They are the ones who know exactly what they are getting, exactly when they are getting it.
In the end, the only cock-up that early readers were subjected to was that in the heading, I at first put that the Shard was in front of the railings rather than behind them.
At that demo a week ago today, there were, of course, and abundance of smartphones being used to soak up snaps:
And there were tablets being used as well:
But more intriguingly, and this was a first for me, I saw smartphones …:
… and tablets …:
… being used actually to demonstrate. And as you can see, I wasn’t the only one who was interested.
I’m not sure what this means. I simply note that it was happening.
Dezeen reports that the Walkie Talkie Sky Garden is now open:
This feature helped the project win planning permission, despite being outside the City of London’s main skyscraper cluster.
It seems that I am not the only one who believes that new buildings like the Walkie Talkie are good not only because they improve the views by being in the views, but by being a new place to look at the views.
And to repeat, I especially like how the Walkie Talkie looks from a distance. The point being: it looks, not just like any old anonymous lump, but like the lump that is the Walkie Talkie. The Walkie Talkie is, just like the Shard and the Gherkin and St Paul’s and Big Ben and the Wheel, recognisable, this being why it needs a special jokey name. That means that it makes me happy whenever I see it. It makes me feel at home. It may not be beautiful exactly (although from nearby I happen to think that it is very beautiful). But neither is the rest of London beautiful exactly, and I think the Walkie Talkie fits right in.
LATER: Diamond Geezer is way ahead of me.
Here, as promised, is a big clutch of photos of signs that I took at the Trafalgar Square demo yesterday. If you want to, click on a square to get the original photo. The squares have, in quite a few cases been fiddled out with to make them a bit clearer, but the originals you’ll get to with clicking are exactly as taken.
There were, of course, lots of signs (including many mobile phones and at least one tablet) saying “I AM CHARLIE”, in fact you can see quite a few such if you do some clicking. But, here are all the signs I photographed that said something else as well, or instead:
Of all of these, my two favourites are “Team Civilization”, and “Down With The Tyranny of The Offended” (in French). But demos are at least as much about quantity as quality, and I trust the sheer number of signs shown here (there were plenty more that I didn’t get to photo) makes the bigger point. There were a lot of people turning out to denounce these horrible attacks.
Even the rather or almost completely illegible signs are an encouragement, I think, because what these signs tell us is that quite a few people were present, and feeling strongly enough about it to want to wave a sign, who had never been anywhere near such a demo ever before.
Feel free to reproduce any of these images at will, with or without attribution. If you’d like bigger versions of any of the pictures, my email can be found here, top left, where it says “Contact”.
Spent the middle of the day at the demo, taking my usual excessive number of pictures, and then the evening trying to divide them up into clumps to show here, or somewhere.
My main impression was that this was a real demo, rather than some faked up exercise in pretending to be angry about some bit of bad economic or political news that some bunch of people have just been hit by, but not very hard, with lots of identical signs all printed out by the same dubious Marxist agitprop organisation, and then afterwards lots of moaning about how the evil Mass Media paid no attention. There were a lot of people there:
Not surprisingly, there were a lot of French people present, what with London now containing so many French people. Also not surprisingly, the average age of those present was young, what with there being so many young French people in London.
My thanks to Goddaughter 2, now back in London, who told me that she and a friend were going to attend. Had she not done this, I would only have twigged that it was happening when it started happening and I saw it on the telly.
I have in mind, Real Soon Now, to be posting a clump of pictures of the signs and pictures that people were holding up, along the lines of these photos, that I took of a much smaller demo in London a while back, including the one above, and also including this one, which I especially like:
My immediate reaction to the Paris brouhaha was not: “I am Charlie Hebdo!” It was to take another crack at reading the Quran, to check if it really is as obnoxious as I remember it being the first time around. So far, it is, even more than I remember.
Indeed. Behind the photographer is a coach:
Passing buses and lorries make fine backdrops for photos I find. I especially like this because the picture on the coach (in aid of this enterprise, I presume) is so bizarre. This is exactly how the picture emerged from the camera. No cropping, no rotating, nothing. It was taken last September, outside Westminster Abbey, looking away from the main entrance and towards Parliament Square. None of which is even at bit clear, because of the coach. Unless you are a railings spotter.
I spent the day building CD shelves, hence the need for a quota photo.
At the end of November 2014 (on the day that I also took these photos) I made a small pilgrimage to Tower Bridge, the excuse being that I might be able to photo up someone’s skirt through the observation floor that they had recently installed at the top of that bridge, and the reason being that I simply like to go on random pilgrimages in central London, for the sake of what I might see on the way there, there, and on the way back.
As often happens with these small pilgrimages of mine, I got there not at midday, but towards the end of the day. By which I mean just before and during the ending of daylight. And the ending of daylight is a very good time for taking photos, especially with a digital camera that is good in low light conditions, and especially if you are someone who likes taking pictures of other photographers in ways that don’t show their faces but do show the screens of their cameras. At dusk, those screens tend to show up particularly well, as a number of these photographer photos illustrate:
The more I photo, the more I find myself liking to take categories of photos, photos in sets. At first, my photos of photographers were just photos of photographers. But soon I was subdividing that huge category, into photographers taking selfies, photographers looking at the photos they’d taken. Recently I have found myself making further subdivisions, often of photos I have been taking for some while but which I had not been putting into a separate category in my head, if you get my meaning. So, above, in addition to all the photos of photographer’s camera screens, we see contributions to the photographers taking selfies category (subdivision: couples taking selfies), to the photographers looking at the photos they have just taken category, but also a good addition to the bald blokes taking photos category, and two for the photographers with interesting hats category.
And of course, there is that vast category that has hove into view in the last few years, of people taking photos with their mobile phones. No less than seven of the above twelve snaps are of people doing this. This was not a decision on my part, merely a consequence of me picking out nice photos of people taking photos.
My favourite photo of these is the last one of all, bottom right. The light is nearly gone, but that means that the view of the shot he is taking (with his mobile phone) shines forth splendidly, as strongly as what he is photoing. And I love that I got what he was photoing as well as his screen picture of what he was photoing.
It was the essentialness of posting that one photo, very late but not never, that made me, while I was about it, also stick up the others, all twelve having already been subdivided into a separate little directory.
The gap between my eyesight and the eyesight of my camera grows and grows with the passing of the years, as my eyes inexorably dim and as my cameras inexorably improve. Even I can regularly manage quite decent shots with my latest camera. As a result, I become ever more immobilised by having to choose good ones from the enormous piles of decent shots I often come back with, after a day out.
Yesterday was a bit different. I went to the home of Michael Jennings for a Christmas Day lunch, picture 1.1 being the most striking thing I saw from out of his front window. The day was lovely, but the light, though wonderful, was fast fading, so Michael and our mutual lady friend and I went out for a short (by my photographic standards) walk to take advantage of it. Which meant that I took, by my standards, only a few pictures. Which made it easier to choose and stick up a few half decent ones.
Picture 1.2 is my favourite of these. Thank God for London’s religious diversity. Much as I loath what Islam says in its holy scriptures, and much as I am critical of people who go through the motions of worshipping these writings, either because they truly believe what those writings say (very wicked), or because they don’t but think that they it doesn’t matter or that they must (also wicked – yes, I mean you, Moderate Muslims – stop saying that you believe stuff that you also say that you don’t believe), I do like that having Muslims in London keeps shops open and taxis running on days like Christmas Day. Michael fixed a couple of Uber taxi rides for me, and both the drivers had Muslim sounding names.
I don’t know what the church is in 2.1 but it looks pretty behind that leafless tree. And Tower Bridge always looks pretty to me.
Re those two Tower Bridge shots, I’ve always liked how digital cameras do the opposite of the human eye, and turn urban skies bluer and brighter as they actually get darker. It’s all those orange-coloured artificial lights, burning relatively brighter as the sun sinks, together with the actual darkness on the ground, impinging upon the Automatic setting.
Photoed by me in the Kings Road, last night:
I trust I make myself clear.
Ever since I first got a digital camera, I have taken occasional “wildlife” photos, of the not-actually-very-wild-at-all animals of London, mostly ducks and geese, and cats and dogs (especially cats), and occasionally squirrels. Very occasionally, I get something worth showing, here (that cat being a French cat) or somewhere. Mostly I prefer inanimate objects to the other sort, because inanimate object keep more still. And in the case of those living creatures called digital photographers, they also are good at standing very still.
The last time I photoed a pair of birds, they were intensely aware of my presence and very angry about it. But the other day, just after I had been photoing that Christmas tree, I came across a pair of birds who were utterly oblivious to my presence. They were very well turned out. And they were doing all manner of photographically interesting things. They were standing asleep on one leg, waking up and stretching their wings, doing coordinated dancing, shagging, more coordinated dancing, and then they hopped down off their perch and and onto the grass to have breakfast, or whatever it was. (All this happened at about eleven in the morning, so if it was breakfast it was a late breakfast.) I took over a hundred and fifty snaps of them. Below is a ruthlessly edited selection:
The point of showing all these snaps is not just to enable you to click and enjoy at will. It is also to make the point about how totally indifferent to my very close - not to say downright voyeuristic - presence these two handsome birds were.
I was still calling these these two birds ducks when I uploaded all those pictures. They looked all scrunched up and small when doing that asleep-on-one-leg thing. But actually, I think they’re geese. Whatever. They are Londoners.
The only reason I was out and about that morning was because I was walking with Goddaughter 2, who was on her way to France, to Pimlico tube. As it turned out, I contributed nothing to this first leg of her journey, not even helping her lug her luggage down the steps into the station. But I am still very glad I took this walk.