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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: Friends

Friday February 05 2016

The other day (like there has been been just the one (which is idiotic)), I was in …:

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… to have brunch with GD2 and her sister in their newly acquired home.

While there I took some photos, including this still life, of pots and pans and utensils, which looks rather nice, like an oil painting:

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Staying tasteful and artistic, and seeing as how this is Friday, here is something else I snapped there:

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Yes, it’s a cat cushion!  It was, though, probably there when they moved in.

Since a major percentage of the point of Art is to stay a couple of steps ahead of and to thereby piss off the dumbo bourgeoisie, the latest batch of Artists would probably now reckon the cat cushion to be more Artistic than the still life.

As for the bloke who painted that Kentish Town sign, he probably now works for an advertising agency.

Saturday January 30 2016

Yes, I have struggled over the years to get good photos of what my meetings are like.  The problem typically is that I can never get everyone into the same picture, and the pictures look like about half as many people attended as actually did.  Since the number wasn’t that huge to start with, that’s not what you want.

Here is a different approach:

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That was the scene today following last night’s meeting, me having done almost zero tidying up to that point, bar hoovering up a few crisps.  Now, Imagine that space with as many people sitting in it as you can fit in.  That was what it was like last night.

If you reckon that the “table” in the middle looks like it could be improved upon, you are not wrong.  There was a disaster when it collapsed last night, luckily not during the Tim Evans talk, and some fruit juice hit the carpet, along with lots of potato crisps.  And it was then only imperfectly reassembled.  More work is needed on that front.  But it was a great evening, partly because of the table collapsing, because that sort of thing adds to the anecdotage factor.  But mostly because it was an excellent talk, and because a very classy group of people who came to hear it.  Including a baby, who was very welcome.

Talking of unsatisfactory tables, I wasn’t feeling so good myself today.  My sleep last night was full of weird dreams, which I can still remember bits of, which is not normal.  Plus, I have a new blender, and this morning’s concoction was terrible.  The trouble with most vegetables is that they don’t taste of anything.  Or, they taste rather nasty.  Thank goodness for cherry tomatoes.  But, all my current stash of cherry tomatoes got consumed last night by all the people that you can’t see in the picture.

Thursday January 28 2016

This is weird.  When I did a posting at Samizdata called My 2015 in pictures, I intended to include a picture I took of one of my meetings last year, the one at which Aiden Gregg spoke.  But, although I talked about it, I didn’t actually include the picture.  Rather humiliatingly, nobody noticed, or if they did notice, they didn’t care, or if they did care, not enough to complain.

So here is that picture:

image

I have also added it to that Samizdata posting, which absolutely nobody at all will notice.  But, get it right, eh?

I think I got this picture by standing on a chair.

I mention all this now because I have another of these meetings, the first of this year, tomorrow evening.  Speaker: Professor Tim Evans (also mentioned in that Samizdata posting), talking about Jeremy Corbyn and all that.  Turnout looks like being just right, with the room comfortably as opposed to uncomfortably full.  Luckily the seating arrangements have been improving.

Here, for good measure, is the photo I took of Tim when he gave his Inaugural Professional Lecture at Middlesex University, last summer, and which was also included in that Samizdata posting:

image

Not being accustomed to the ways of Academe, that get-up makes Tim look, to me, like he is in a very trad production of Wagner’s Mastersingers.

Sunday January 17 2016

My life, in this digital century, has contained quite a lot of wonderful expeditions which I never got around to mentioning here.  Take the trip that I and G(od)D(aughter) 1 made to Beckton Sewage Works, on September 21st 2013.  The only time I mentioned this here, it would seem, was in this posting, where I mentioned that I otherwise did not mention it.

So, to go some way towards correcting that, here is a picture of some birds that I took that day:

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You want to know why London contains so many birds?  Sewage processing, that’s why.  Birds love that.  The Beckton Sewage Works is one great big open air bird canteen.

And here is a picture of a sign that I took, which explains that a huge new sewage tunnel was in the process of being constructed, at the time of our visit:

image

More about that here:

The 75-metre deep Beckton overflow shaft is the entry point for the Lee Tunnel, a £635million project just as ambitious as the more highly-publicised Crossrail. Over the past five years, engineers have built a 6km tunnel stretching from Beckton up to Abbey Mills pumping station in Stratford, east London. The Lee Tunnel will help prevent more than 16 million tons of sewage from overflowing into the River Lee each year by capturing it and taking it down to Beckton. The sewage treatment works itself is being upgraded and expanded by 60 per cent to enable it to deal with the increased volume.

And the Lee Tunnel is just the first phase of the even more ambitious Thames Tideway Tunnel, a 25km tunnel that will handle sewage from Acton in west London through to Abbey Mills in the east. The Thames Tideway Tunnel will deal with the 34 most polluting overflow points along the Thames. Work on the £4.2billion project, known popularly as the London super sewer, starts in earnest in 2017 with engineers pulling the chain, so to speak, in 2023.

And here is another photo I took that day, which I include in this posting because I like it:

image

Behind that fence may, or may not, be activity associated with the digging of the big tunnel.  But, I think it was.

Wednesday January 13 2016

Several days ago now, but type/scribbled into a Word file straight after it happened ...

I enthusiastically show G(od)D(aughter) 2 a picture (on my camera screen) that I took of the scaffolding across my courtyard.  Then I realise that this is a bit of a mad way to behave.

Me: “Sorry.  I’m going a bit mad.”

GD2: “No.”

Ah.  Good.  Not going mad.

But then:

GD2: “Nothing’s changed.  You’ve been like this for a long time.”

Ah.

Friday December 25 2015

Following a solitary posting here (in August) about an expedition with G(od)D(aughter) Two (in July) to Richmond Park, here, at last, is another.  So, this is some serious catching up.

Once again, the topic (du jour) is deer, this time the non-rein type deer of Richmond Park.

Here are some of the lady deer, looking very cute:

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And here are a few of the deer lads, on their way …:

image

… to join the rest of the lads:

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And here is another shot of the ladies, this time with a single gentleman deer in their midst:

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I’m guessing that this is the deer who hits the annual genetic jackpot.  He locks antlers with all the other male deers, and comes top, and wins … the ladies.

But I may have all this totally wrong.  What do I know about what goes on in parks? Anyone really know what’s happening here?

Whatever it is, it sure makes for pretty pictures.

Thursday December 24 2015

Out and about with GD1 (7): GD1 used her iPhone a lot for photoing

Yes indeed, this is posting number seven - seven - about a walk that G(od)D(aughter) One and I did, in June of this year.  Is this Proustian attention to detail?  Or is it just travel boring on an epic scale?  If you think the latter, the titles of such postings as this one will chase you away.  You are not sitting in my living room.  I would love it if you did read this posting, and if you did click on all of the photos below and if, having done that, you enjoyed them all.  But this is a blog, not a kidnapping.

For those still sitting attentively on this blog’s metaphorical sofa, first: thank you for you continuing kind attention; and: the central point of this posting is that not only are Humans now using smartphones to take photos, on an epic scale.  So too are Real Photographers.

GD1 is a very Real Photographer indeed.  She does Real Photography for a living.  GD1 had her Real Camera with her for the day, yet for a number of reasons she spent most of our walk that day taking photos not with her big Real Camera, but with her iPhone.  I vaguely recall that her Real Camera had not been sufficiently recharged, but I may be imagining that.  Or she was wanting to send photos to friends as only iPhones and iPhone-like cameras can do.  Or perhaps she was just curious to see how good iPhotos are capable of being.  Or maybe she just wanted a change, on this day out, from her day job.  Whatever her reasons were, as my photos of her show, she spent most of the day iPhotoing, rather than Real Photoing.  I think that’s a very interesting sign of the times.

image image imageimage image imageimage image image

Photo 1.1 sets the tone of these photos by concealing GD1’s face, in this case with an iBag.  I never tire of taking such photos, usually of strangers, but also of friends upon whom I do not wish to inflict face-recognition angst.

In 1.2 we observe GD1 photoing London’s Big Things.  I don’t know if I have influenced her at all in this matter.  Maybe.

Photos 1.2, 2.1, 2.2 and 2.3 show her doing something that has definitely influenced me, which is photoing inconsequential objects to create consequential photographic effects.  1.2 and 2.1 both involve water, which is a particular source of photographic effects of the sort that the eye seems programmed not to see when looking at actual water, only when looking at photos of water.  This does much to explain GD1’s liking for walking beside canals, which I definitely share, but for rather different reasons.

Mirrors (2.2 and 2.3) are another source of photographic effect.  I too like mirrors, because they enable me to include me in my pictures.  Which I like to do from time to time, because it drives home the point that I am not and will never be as Real Photographer.  (Real Photographers only photo themselves by mistake.) Sadly, I could find no photos of GD1 photoing bits of mirror, with me reflected in any of the bits.  Must try harder.

3.1: a swan family (I think maybe this is the iPhone influencing her – this would be too cute, I think, for her Real Camera).  3.2: gasometer.

In 3.3 we have arrived at our final destination, Alexandra Palace, from which Big Things can be seen.  So I photo the Big Things, and she iPhotos Alexandra Palace.

Will there be further postings featuring photos taken by me on this journey?  I promise nothing, but … almost certainly yes.

Wednesday December 23 2015

This morning, I met up for a late breakfast in Eltham with regular commenter here Alastair.  I took a ton of photos, because after we had breakfasted we checked out a great view of London just to the south, which Alastair had recently chanced upon and had told me about.  But before I even look at all the photos I took, here is a photo that Alastair showed me today, which he took on November 1st.  November 1st was very foggy, and this is the Walkie Talkie, smothered in fog:

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If you like the Walkie Talkie, as both Alastair and I do, then: Hurrah!  It’s the Walkie-Talkie!

If you hate the Walkie Talkie, and many do hate it, cheer up.  In this picture of the Walkie Talkie, you can hardly see the Walkie Talkie at all!

Tuesday December 22 2015

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.

Friday December 11 2015

Photographs are, as all the world has recently been learning, except those whose business – paid or unpaid – it is to complain about what all the world has recently been learning, a wonderful aid to memory.

And many of the happiest memories of our extraordinarily comfortable and frequently very happy times involve food.  So - and the complainers complain about it with a venom they seem to reserve only for this, and for selfies - people now like to photo food.  Food that they have themselves prepared.  And food that others have prepared for them. 

And I like to photo them photoing the food.  This also makes happy memories.

Man prepares meat:  Man photos meat:  Man prepares salad:  Man photos salad:

image imageimage image

These are happy memories from last August.  Visit to friends in the outer suburbs.

The outer suburbs?  What do they look like?  Well, one of the things they look like (horizontalisation opportunity) is this:

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That’s the large patch of grass, beyond the back wall of their back garden.  And sadly, although those things in the distance do vaguely resemble Big Things, they are actually rather smaller trees.

We are beyond the “Green Belt”.  The above photo, especially if clicked on, offers a glimpse of what the Green Belt might usefully be turned into, instead of it remaining for ever the wasteland of pointless open space that it is now.  It would need livening up a bit.  A bit of open-caste mining, or a temporary phase as a juvenile race track?  Then let nature take its course, and you’ll have a lovely place.  Apparently some industrial type activity (gravel?) is about to happen in that particular stretch of grass.  That will stir up some interesting nature, when the industrialising is done.

Finally, this being Friday, here is a visitor to our jollifications who dropped by that afternoon:

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Like many cats in places like this, this cat seems to have a basic home of basic benefactors, and daily rounds to visit other potential and not-so-basic benefactors.  This visitor acquired no happy food memories with his/her visit, on the day I photoed him/her.  Not that day.

But I have plenty.  Without my camera, these memories would soon have gone.

Thursday December 10 2015

Where would we be without maps?  In what world would we be living, without maps?  A very different world, I think, and a much less coherent and join-up world.  While travelling we consult maps, and are often unable to distinguish later what we learned by actually going there and being there, and what we merely saw on maps while going where we went, and being where we went.  That was my experience anyway, when, much younger, I roamed about in Europe, on a bike.

However, when I am on one a walk with Goddaughter One, I tend to learn rather little from maps, until afterwards.  She is usually the one choosing where we go, and I just follow her lead.  And, I don’t consult a map, because I always have my bag with me, and my camera in the other hand, and would need a third hand for a map, but do not have a third hand.  There is accordingly a basic sense in which, after one of our joint expeditions, I don’t know, at the time, where I am, and don’t know, afterwards, where I have been.

It would be different if I was taking photos with my mobile phone, and also using that as a map.  But, I use a regular old camera to take the pictures I take.  I only use a mobile when (a) I want to take a photo, (b) have forgotten to bring my regular camera, and (c) have remembered to bring my mobile.  This circumstance is very rare.

Take our most recent trek, the one which began when we met up at Manor House tube, talked for a while, and which only really got started after we had found our way to that amazing castle.  I only worked out quite recently that we had started our walk here:

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When we walked from Manor House tube we were walking south.  When we reached the Castle Climbing Centre, we arrived at the southern most point of our travels that day.  Then we took the path in an easterly direction along the canal, i.e. the blue line.  The map looks a bit like a pair of spectacles, I think.

Here are some of the pictures I took that day, when the journey really began:

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As you can see the path we took is called the New River Path (the canal being the New River).  Wikipedia seems to be quite informative about “New River (England)”, but my blogging software seems to refuse to do that link (brackets?), so you’ll have to take my word for it that some of the words there are these ones:

The New River is an artificial waterway in England, opened in 1613 to supply London with fresh drinking water taken from the River Lea and from Chadwell Springs and Amwell Springs (which ceased to flow by the end of the 19th century), and other springs and wells along its course.

I don’t know when those reservoirs happened.  Later, I presume.  Until this expedition, I had no idea that the “New River” even existed.

As I said at the end of this recent posting here, I have some catching up that I want to do.

Friday November 20 2015

On Friday November 27th (i.e. exactly one week from now), my friend from way back, Antoine Clarke, will be giving a talk at my place entitled “Herding cats, or lessons from drunks about organising anarchy”.

These talks happen every last Friday of the month, and before they give one of them, I ask each speaker to supply a paragraph or two about what they’ll be saying, so I can email my list of potential attenders.  Antoine has just supplied me with ten paragraphs on his talk:

It would be hard to imagine any more dysfunctional organisation than a leaderless group of drunks promising among themselves to quit drinking and to help other drunks to quit.

And then I realized that there is a similar organisation for narcotics addicts, one for cocaine addicts, crystal meth addicts and even “sex and love addicts” - whatever that may mean.

Alcoholics Anonymous has been described as a “benign anarchy” by one of its founders and manages to organize over 100,000 groups worldwide with between 1.5 million and 2 million members. Its power structure has been described as an “inverted pyramid”.

AA operates by having almost completely autonomous branches, no publicity, no professional class of “charity workers” and no set fees.  It has a “12-step program” and “12 traditions” which have been described respectively as “rules for not killing yourself” and “rules for not killing other people”.

The effectiveness of AA at curing or controlling alcohol addiction is not clear cut. Because of anonymity, self-selection and the difficulty of known if someone who stops attending meetings has relapsed or simply found he can lead a functional lifestyle. The fact that over a dozen other organisations have copied AA’s 12-step and 12 tradition system suggests at least some level of success, unlike, say the UK’s National Health Service which has fewer imitators.

One particular problem for AA is that any 12-step program will only really work if it is voluntary, but in the USA especially, courts mandate that convicted criminals attend AA meetings as a parole condition.  I think this reduces recidivism among the criminals (compared with them NOT following a program), but it surely dilutes the effectiveness of AA groups (more disruptive attendees, people going through the motions, possible discouragement of others).

I shall be looking at the elements of AA’s structure and organisational culture to see what lessons can be learned about the possibility of anarchic institutions especially at handling social problems.

What interests me is the “anarchy with table manners” aspect of AA and the contrast with truly dysfunctional libertarian organisations, like the Libertarian Alliance.

I’m also interested in the issue of government interference and the ways in which well-meaning interventions make matters worse. I shall also take a look at the spiritual element of AA’s 12-step program, noting that it claims to work for atheists and agnostics as well as for theists.

Hopefully, this is an attractive alternative to binge drinking on a Friday night in central London.

Indeed.  There will be no binge drinking at the meeting.

Tuesday November 10 2015

Indeed:

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I’ve not been out much lately, but last Friday night I got to see Perry and Adriana’s new version of indoors.  That was the best photo I took, of a drying up cloth.

Click on that to see Adriana’s trousers, of the sort that are presumably threatening all the time to get tighter.

Monday October 26 2015

I just sat down to do a BMdotcom posting, about some strange disruption inflicted earlier this evening upon the Royal College of Music by the London premiere of the new James Bond movie.  While composing this posting, I realised that it would do nicely for Samizdata, so there it went.  I don’t do nearly enough for Samizdata these days.

The posting was based on something that Goddaughter 2 (now a student at the RCM) told me.  And she also told me something else, this time not disturbing or of any public significance, but merely rather entertaining.

GD2 now inhabits a big building, full of rooms occupied by her and her fellow students.  Lots of rooms.  Lots of doors.  All the doors looking like each other.

So, one of the ladies in a nearby room to GD2 has a boyfriend staying the night.  Boyfriend needs a piss.  Being a relaxed sort of individual, he strolls to the toilet, naked.  It is deep into the night, and he expects not to encounter anyone, and he does not, at first.  But then, problem.  Which door is the door to the room of his lady friend?  He does not remember.  About four different wrong doors are opened, complete with people behind them, most of whom were surprised but amused, before the correct door is found.

If this was a movie, that would only have been the beginning of the mayhem and the reactions to being woken up by a naked man at the door would have been far more extreme than they actually were.  But for me, this was mayhem enough to be very entertaining.  Boyfriend wasn’t bothered.  Like I say, a relaxed sort of individual.  And no harm at all came of this little nocturnal drama.  Just a mildly entertaining blog posting, or so I hope.

Friday August 28 2015

Incoming photo (which is something I like a lot), from Simon Gibbs, of a sign (I like signs a lot), near Southwark Cathedral:

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Click on that to get the bigger, unhorizontalised picture, and read more about what this is about here.  Google sends me regular links to anything that is “new architecture london”, and there’s been lots written about this place.

Although, rather oddly, I couldn’t find any pictures of this sign.  Maybe this will change that.

The gimmick is that this is a pub that sprays alcohol into the air.  That was always going to be catnip to the media, social and regular.  “Breathe responsibly”.  Arf, arf. There are already plenty of pictures around of that sign.