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Category archive: Business

Monday November 23 2015

I have been reading Peter Foster’s book, Why We Bite the Invisible Hand: The Psychology of Anti-Capitalism.  And very good it is.  Here are some of the things Foster says about Robert Owen (pp. 86-69, pp 92-95:

After he built Cromford, Arkwright became involved in the development of another even more spectacular water-driven venture, at New Lanark in Scotland. The fast-flowing river below the beautiful Falls of Clyde made the site ideal.  Arkwright’s partner there was David Dale, a respected Glasgow merchant. The notoriously prickly Arkwright fell out with Dale, reportedly over a triviality, and withdrew. Dale took control and continued to expand, but the reason New Lanark is so well preserved today is not that it is seen as a monument to capitalism.  Quite the contrary. Dale’s son-in-law, Robert Owen, turned New Lanark into the promotional centre for a Utopian dream, where he nurtured anti-capitalist sentiment. A fair amount of anti-capitalist sentiment still seems to pervade the site today.

Owen’s New Lanark was very far from being an experiment in socialism understood as collective ownership and control.  Workers had neither shares in the mill nor much - if any - say in how it was run.  Nor was Owen a political revolutionary.  What he did share in common with more radical socialists was opposition to religion; belief that human nature was an indeterminate clay ("blank slate"), there to be moulded by men such as himself; distaste for the “individual selfish” competitive system and private property (even though they enabled him to promote his muddled ideas); demonization of money; and a generally woolly notion of how economies - as opposed to individual businesses - work.  Owen rejected Adam Smith’s idea of gradual improvement under a system of “natural liberty.” For him, cotton masters, the men who owned and ran the mills, were (except for himself) greedy and selfish, while workers were oppressed sheep to be led, with himself as the Good Shepherd.

Adam Smith had shrewdly noted that people by nature give far more deference to the ideas of the wealthy than they deserve.  Of few people was this more true than Robert Owen.

Owen was born on May 14, 1771, in Newtown in Wales, five years before the publication of The Wealth of Nations. He received only a rudimentary education before being shipped off by his parents to work in the drapery business. He proved an assiduous employee and developed a keen interest in the then-booming textile industry. He started his own business but soon returned to employment as a mill manager in Manchester.  Close to his 20th birthday, he was reportedly managing 500 workers, at the then substantial salary of £300 a year.  Owen soon found investors to help him start his own mill.  He also became interested in education and social reform (which was the rule rather than the exception for industrialists of the time).  However, when he visited New Lanark he saw a place where he might indulge a nascent vision of industrial harmony, a New Jerusalem in which he would be the secular Messiah.

Owen courted David Dale’s daughter, Anne Caroline, married her on September 30, 1799, and took over New Lanark early in 1800 on what seemed generous terms, essentially promising to pay Dale out of the mill’s future profits.  New Lanark was the basis for the fortune and reputation that enabled Robert Owen to indulge his ideas. The scale of New Lanark seems extraordinary even today, but to visitors from the present, if they could travel back to Owen’s time, the most arresting feature of the place would be that most of its employees were children, supplied by orphanages in Glasgow and Edinburgh.  Child labour has become one of the great fixed images of the Industrial Revolution, but it is inappropriate to take our modern sensitivities back to earlier times. Child labour was common - as it still is in many poor countries - because it was, and is, necessary for the survival of both the children and their families.  It was most necessary for orphans.  Indeed, orphanages paid cotton manufacturers to take their charges off their hands.  David Dale reportedly treated his young employees well.  By 1796 he was employing 16 teachers at the site.

Owen’s desire to prevent children under 10 from working appears wholly admirable, until we remember that this might have led them to starve. His desire to educate children and provide an early equivalent of daycare was worthy but ultimately self-interested in business terms, since these measures increased the skills and contentment - and thus productivity - of the workforce, as did his organization of medical insurance, savings opportunities, food and other provisions. There was no conflict between good business and morality. Indeed, Owen himself constantly, at least in the early days, stressed the importance of these measures for increasing profitability.

The village shop that Owen set up at New Lanark was reportedly an inspiration for the modern cooperative movement, which was founded in the town of Rochdale in Lancashire.  According to a potted history at the New Lanark site, when Owen arrived, there were lots of small traders in the village, “selling poor quality goods at high prices.” He was able to buy in bulk, lower the prices and still make a profit.  But of course this is exactly what supermarkets and big-box stores do today, even as they are castigated for putting the “little guy” … out of business.

Robert Owen put the little guy out of business too. He also made sure that no other traders could survive in the village, by paying his workers with “tickets for wages,” which they could spend only at his village shop.  Elsewhere such enforced commitment to the company store would be cited as evidence of corporate villainy, but Owen declared that his own motives weren’t “selfish.” The important thing was not what was good for him, but what was good for mankind, although he clearly expected a little kudos for showing mankind the way.

At New Lanark, Owen in fact displayed more of the enlightened capitalist than of the Utopian dreamer.  One might not doubt his good intentions when it came to spreading education and advocating factory reform, but he seemed eager to bury the fact that many other cottom masters, and businessmen of the time more generally, were enlightened and reform-minded.

As the Napoleonic Wars drew to a close, both mill owners and authorities were disturbed by Luddite riots that resulted in the breaking of new machinery, which was seen as destroying jobs. Robert Owen claimed that what had brought about these awful, and worsening, conditions was economic liberalism and the competitive system, which, he declared, was based on “deception.” He came forward with a series of bold proposals for “villages of unity and co-operation,” which struck many as workhouses by a more glorified name.

Although the great and the good expressed polite interest in Owen’s solutions to what were, after all, pressing problems, many were profoundly skeptical.  John Quincy Adams, then U.S. ambassador to Britain, described Owen in his memoirs as “crafty crazy ... a speculative, scheming, mischievous man.”

Owen managed to draw the ire of both radical reformers, the political economist heirs of Adam Smith, groups that rarely saw eye to eye. The radicals saw Owen’s communities as oppressive, while the economists viewed them as impractical and counterproductive. The reformer William Cobbett described them as “parallelograms of paupers.” The political economist Robert Torrens said it ws difficult to decide whether Owen was a “knave” or an enthusiast “in whose brain a copulation between vanity and benevolence has engendered madness.”

Owen welcomed a steady stream of “philanthropic tourists” at New Lanark. Their number included Grand Duke Nicholas, future czar of Russia.  Some - although presumably not the grand duke - found disquieting authoritarian overtones to Owen’s operation. After watching Owen’s child labourers drill like little soldiers at the mill’s Institution for the Formation of Character (which has been lovingly restored with taxpayers’ money from the European Union), the poet Robert Southey compared the place to a slave plantation.

Parliament ultimately rejected Owen’s scheme. One member suggested that “this visionary plan, if adopted, would destroy the very roots of society.” Owen responded to criticism by making his schemes more grandiose.  Undaunted, he set off to proselytize in the New World, and not merely to lecture but at last to put into effect his grand plan.  He bought an existing cooperative community in Indiana, which he renamed New Harmony.

Owen attracted a large number of settlers, described by one of Owen’s sons, Robert Dale Owen, as a “heterogenous collection of radicals, enthusiastic devotees to principle ... and lazy theorists, with a sprinkling of unprincipled sharpers thrown in.” Owen Sr. soon went back to Britain to spread the word of his success.  Another son, William, confided dolefully to his diary, “The enjoyment of a reformer, I would say, is much more in contemplation, than in reality.”

New Harmony soon started to fall apart.  Skilled labour did not feel inclined to have its income, under Owen’s plan, “equalized” with the unskilled or, worse, with those who did not wish to work at all.  A collectivist scheme such as Owen’s could in effect work only if powered by either religious conviction or forced labour, a lesson that would not be lost on Owen’s more revolutionary successors.

The abolition of money led to a bureaucratic nightmare.  When even lettuce had to pass through the company store, it inevitably wilted before it reached the plate.  (Moscow McDonald’s would encounter analogous problems in trying to get supplies through the collapsing Soviet system almost 200 years later.)

After an absence of two months, Owen returned to New Harmony, arriving by river with intellectual reinforcements dubbed the “boatload of knowledge.” He forced the community through numerous reorganizations, all the while churning out portentous exhortations such as the “Declaration of Mental Independence:’ which promised to free man from the “slavery” of private property, religion and marriage.

One visitor, the Duke of Saxe-Weimar, wrote, “He looks forward to nothing else than to remodel the world entirely; to root out all crime; to abolish punishment; to create similar views and similar wants, and in this manner to abolish all dissension and warfare ... He was too unalterably convinced of the result to admit the slightest room for doubt!’ Every other member of the community to whom the duke spoke acknowledged that Owen was “deceived in his expectations!’ The final blow to the community was a falling-out between Owen and William Maclure, a wealthy emigre Scotsman, which led to the two men suing each other over property, the concept New Harmony was meant to transcend.

The one undoubted benefit Owen did bestow upon the former colonies was his children, who turned out to be a good deal more level-headed than their father and who would become prominent in American affairs. Owen then set off on an even more quixotic scheme: to persuade the government of Mexico to grant him a huge swath of land on which to test his theories.  He required Mexico first to abandon Catholicism.  Mexico demurred.  Owen returned to London and embarked upon expansive new ventures.  He became the first president of the Grand National Consolidated Trades Union, an organization that lasted a year.  Seeking to trump both the pecuniary root of all evil and “unnecessary” middlemen, he set up “labour exchanges,” whereby merchandise was exchanged for “labour notes,” whose value was meant to be calculated according to the hours of sweat embodied in each product.  The administrators found that they could not possibly calculate values this way and were forced to copy market prices.  The labour exchanges collapsed too.

Owen staunchly opposed the “superstition” of religion, and yet his own views were at root profoundly religious, based on a “New Moral World” set up in opposition to a demonic set of greedy capitalists. He founded the Rational Society, complete with Halls of Science instead of churches, and “social hymns.” Sample verse:

Outcasts in your native soil,
Doom’d to poverty and toil,
Strangers in your native land;
Come, and join the social band.

Owen’s acolytes founded another Utopian community, at an estate called Queenwood in Hampshire, whose collapse Owen hastened by spending it into the ground.  One of his more clear-sighted disciples noted that “Mr. Owen was no financier, and had no idea of money.” Queenwood, like New Harmony, imploded amid lawsuits, yet again over property.

Robert Owen represented a psychological type that would persist throughout the business world.  Although such businessmen have a good grasp of their own business, they fail to understand the nature of markets more generally and believe themselves to be morally exceptional in a world marked by short-sighted greed.

Saturday November 07 2015

They’re playing an Old-Timers T20 in New York today.  Here are the two squads, “Sachin’s Blasters” and “Warne’s Warriors”:

SR Tendulkar (Captain), CEL Ambrose, SC Ganguly, CL Hooper, DPMD Jayawardene, L Klusener, BC Lara, VVS Laxman, GD McGrath, Moin Khan†, M Muralitharan, SM Pollock, V Sehwag, Shoaib Akhtar, GP Swann.

SK Warne (Captain), AB Agarkar, AA Donald, ML Hayden, JH Kallis, RT Ponting, JN Rhodes, KC Sangakkara†, Saqlain Mushtaq, A Symonds, MP Vaughan, DL Vettori, CA Walsh, Wasim Akram.

It makes me think of these guys.

Find out what happened here, that also being where I found out about this remarkable enterprise.

Monday November 02 2015

I think my fascination with the Union Jack really got into gear with the Scottish Referendum.  Why then?  Because then, we might have had to abandon it.  It might have become a relic.

Then, during the recently concluded Rugby World Cup, the Brits all got knocked out by the time the semi-finals came around.  But, the two nations whose national flags involve the Union Jack (for the time being anyway), Australia and New Zealand (England’s flag is the red and white flag of St George), were the two finalists.  So, the Union Jack triumphed, even if the nation that originated it did not.

So, I am now always on the lookout for Union Jacks, especially when the colours are being played with.  The shape is wonderful, I think, but the colours can get repetitious and they come alive when altered somewhat.

And today, I found just such a Union Jack, in a shop, in Tottenham court Road.  I went in and photoed it, several times.  Nobody objected, or tried to sell me furniture.  Or even to sell me the Union Jack that I was photoing.  I just did my photos, and also a few others of cat cushions, and then made my exit.

image imageimage image

If you look at a mirror, you tend to see yourself.  If you photograph a mirror, you tend to photo yourself taking a photo, unless you are a Real Photographer.  I am not, even if one of the above photos does exclude me.

£149 is what this mirror would cost you.

As I type this, Simon Schama is concluding his TV series about The Face of Britain, the final episode being entitled “The Face in the Mirror”.  He is doing selfies, or “self-portraits” as they have mostly been known, until now.  I expect that we will be shown regular folks posing with their selfie sticks, right at the end.

No.  No selfie sticks.  Instead: Gormleys.  I photoed Gormleys, way back, in London.  Schama had them photoed at the seaside.

Monday October 19 2015

Busy day, by my unbusy standards.  Inability to contrive clever words.  Search through recent photos.  One jumps out at me:



Begin to write something clever, but it doesn’t cohere.  Give up.  Good night.

Saturday October 17 2015

Every so often I check out Jonathan Gewirtz’s photos, often because I am reminded to do this when I read Chicago Boyz, for which Jonathan writes.  Yesterday, I found my way to this wonderful photo of the cranes of Miami.  Because that photo has “Copyright 2013 Johathan Gewirtz” written across the middle of it, I looked for other Miami crane photos, and found this ( by “ozanablue"):


Then, I think my finger slipped.  Anyway, something happened, and I found myself looking at another terrific Gewirtz Miami crane snap, also adorned with a Copyright notice, but from which I have sliced out this:


That slice is much smaller as well as much (vertically) thinner than the meteorologically imposing original.  But, as is the rule here with anything I “borrow”, if JG sees this and wants even this small slice of his picture removed from here, it will be done pronto.

Those container ship cranes will surely be looked back at by historians as one of the great visual symbols of our time, to sum up all the peaceful material and trading progress that we as a species have been making in recent decades.

Shame our cranes of this sort are too far away from the centre of London for a picture of them to be able to include our Big Things as well.  Because our Big Thing’s are better than Miami’s.

Talking of cranes, another English one attracting admiring attention is this one, who bowls leg spin for Hampshire.  (Another spinner nearly won it for England today, in Abu Dhabi (where they also have cranes (they now have them everywhere important that’s next to the sea)).)

Monday October 12 2015

I’ve been photoing a lot of taxis-covered-in-adverts lately, and this is one of my recent favorites, both because if came out so well in such discouraging light (my camera is not called “Lumix” for nothing) and because it is of that generic thing, an advert for adverts.  You want to stick an advert on your taxi.  This is who to contact:


I also like the big old advert behind.

As for the adverts on taxis, the thing I notice is that they are now often very temporary.  You associate adverts on vehicles with permanence, or I do.  On a taxi, you advertise a product which isn’t going to change for the next few years, like a drink or a holiday destination or an estate agency, right?  Well, not so much now.  Now, you often see adverts on taxis that are for events.  Here, for instance, is one I have been noticing recently:


Now that I look at this carefully, I see that although a big fuss is being made of London Fashion Week, this is actually an advert for one of its sponsors, Sunglass Hut, which didn’t vanish on September 22nd, just because London Fashion Week folded its tents on that date.  Nevertheless, if this London Fashion Week advert hangs around for a few months, it will look very out-od-date, and Sunglass Hut with it, which is surely not what they will want or will allow.  It will be interesting to see if this advert is still to be seen, say, around Christmas or after.  My guess would be not.

While doing this posting, I actually found out about Verifone Media for the first time.  Blog and learn.

Monday October 05 2015

Photoed by me last night, at Southwark tube station:


Next to the ticket barrier at Southwark tube there are a number of these little history lessons, of which this was my favourite.  This is the kind of thing you can usually chase up quickly on the internet, and find a fuller account of.  But, my googling abilities are such that I can find no reference to this fish-discouragement story.  Anyone?

Wednesday September 30 2015

Remember this shiny little car.  That one was advertising a golf shop.  Today, in Chelsea, I spotted another shiny little car, but this one wasn’t advertising anything.  It was just shiny:


Even more amazing, to me, was what brand of car this was.  Would you have guessed Aston Martin, if I hadn’t already told you with the title of this?  Yet, an Aston Martin it was:


And since I was basically photographing a mirror, I decided to include myself in the picture.

I now discover that this little car is just a Toyota with an Aston Martin badge on it.  You wouldn’t catch James Bond in one of these.  This being because he, in one, wouldn’t catch anyone else.

Tuesday September 29 2015

Photography is light, and in this rather odd photo the light was coming from behind the object I photoed, making it look … odd:


But there is no way to take this photo again, because just after taking the photo but before looking at the photo, I chopped the object into bits with a bread knife and stuffed the bits into a black plastic rubbish sack.  The point here being that Modern Life is all about getting rid of clutter, an in particular, packaging clutter.

Like so much packaging clutter, this piece of packaging clutter was amazingly beautiful in its making, being of a very elegant, abstract sculptural shape, and made of a sort of cross between polystyrene and sponge of the sort you wash with.  Its structural strength and its ability to look after the piece of electronics it was cushioning, on its journey from China to me, had all been perfectly calculated.  How can you just throw something like this away?  But, you must, or you will drown in such stuff.

The packaging industry has clearly been one of the great growth industries of the late twentieth century.  Remember when you used to buy sweeties or paper clips or screws from a bloke in a brown coat, who would shovel them into a brown paper bag, and decide what to charge you by weighing them with a pair of scales?  Perhaps you don’t because those days are now long gone.  Now shops selling sweeties or paper clips or screws sell them in small packages.  Nobody weighs such things in shops any more.  The little things cost about twenty times as much, per little thing.  The packaging also includes anti-theft devices.  The process of selling is speeded up.

Supermarkets still weigh certain sorts of fruit and veg, but I bet they are working flat out to get rid of the need for that, by regularising the size of individual fruits and veges, and by packaging them in ever more cunning ways, with the price already decided for each package, and with the weighing done way back in the supply chain.  (When they do, I might consider using those shopping robots in supermarkets.)

All of which involves literally tons and tons of packaging.  And a discipline of modern life is knowing that such packaging must be binned, no matter how handy you might think it might come in in the future.

Equally troubling to me is cardboard boxes.  These also have to go, and often that involves chopping them up, so that the bloody bits will fit into bins.  When I say “bloody” bits, I am not just swearing, I am describing.  Recently I cut my hand while doing this.  The cushiony thing above was, on the other hand, very easy to carve into bits, and by its nature did not threaten my hands in the process, the same cannot be said of cardboard.

The ultimate expression, so far, of the urge to package is the shipping container, which has literally transformed the economy of the entire world.  Imagine if everything you bought came inside those and you had to chop those up, until the bits fitted inside bin bags.  I would have died of self-inflicted wounds long ago.

Friday September 25 2015

Yes, because that was when I took this photo:


One of the ways I have got (I think) better as a photographer is that I have gradually identified more classes of object or circumstance to be worth photoing.

This often starts with me just photoing something, because, what the hell, I like it, or it’s fun, or it’s interesting, or it’s odd, or it’s getting more common, or nobody else is noticing it and talking about it, or whatever and I just photo it, without even telling myself why, in conscious words.

Later, often much later, the conscious, verbalised thinking starts.  Perhaps because, as in this case, someone else starts talking about it. Guido having a go at that Labour politician was what got my conscious brain into gear on the subject of White Vans.  And I then decide to get more systematic about photoing whatever it is.

Mobile Pet Foods is still going, and if that link doesn’t convince you, then note the date on the latest piece of customer feedback here.  (That this feedback may be fake doesn’t alter the fact that the dates are recent.)

There is, of course, a cat angle to this.

Tuesday September 22 2015

Time for some weird transport, here at BMdotcom.  So, google google, this kind of thing doesn’t take long.  Here are three photos of transport arrangements, all three of which make use of the tricycle principle to not keep falling over.

First, a combined bicycle and shopping trolley, which, if you think about it uses the shopping trolley not only for transportation purposes but also to turn the bicycle into a sort of tricycle, although actually it is more like a quincycle, what with this device now having four small wheels at the front:


Second, this new slant on the tricycle principle, which actually combines three cycles, the one at the back motor- and the two at the front bi-.  Magnificent, I think you will agree.


And, the third of these triple-based transport arrangements, a tractor that used to have four wheels but which has lost one, leaving only three:


Back-seat passengers are seldom all that helpful to a driver, but this one is essential.

I think that these snaps date from around 2009 (they are three of these ones), and you’ve very possibly already seen them.  But they are new to me, and me is what matters here.

This kind of nonsense is why the internet exists.  And beneath and beyond such photos is a very significant subtext, about people getting on with their lives, with determination, inventiveness, and above all without wars or catastrophes, unless one of these contrivances collapses into the road.  Before the internet, too much “world news” consisted of disasters, and of helpless and miserable people begging to be rescued from these disasters.  The begging continues, but there are now also other and more encouraging messages to enjoy.

I actually think that this change in how the world sees the rest of the world will make invasions by powerful parts of the world of less powerful parts less frequent.  Invasions won’t stop, but the desire to rescue (by invading) will be at least somewhat moderated.

Monday September 21 2015

A while back, there used to be Walkers Marmite flavoured crisps.  Then, they went away.  I mourned their passing.

Now ...:


… they’re back!  That being a celebratory photo I took earlier this evening.  Apparently I have democracy to thank.

I wonder, will there be a day when political elections include the added attraction of a prize draw, for all who vote?

I shan’t be voting for any other crisps to join Marmite crisps.  Marmite was, as far as I am concerned, the big one.  I am now happy.

I have a distinct recollection of posting a photo of Marmite flavoured crisps, here or somewhere, way back.  But when I tried to find such a posting, all I could find was a photo of some Marmite spoons.  But, by looking for crisps without mentioning Marmite, I did find a posting I did about an earlier round of Walkers crisp voting.

Wednesday September 16 2015

Now, some more pictures from that fabulous day out at the Oval, which was over a week ago now.

This time, it’s adverts.  The crowd was, as already discussed, sparse.  It was sparse because the game was played on a Monday, so that Sky could fit it into its schedule, but because Sky were present, the adverts at the ground packed an extra punch.  I assume that a cricket club like Surrey has people who obsess not so much about cricket as about money, and it must be good news on the money front that all these adverts were to be seen on Sky TV.

You see adverts in lots of the photos of and television coverage of sports events, but it isn’t much talked about.  Neither are all the empty seats that so often occur at sports events nowadays, particularly cricket matches.  But, these pictures focus attention on all the adverts I saw at that game, by cropping out everything else.

Click on these adverts, and you get the original pictures from which I extracted them, which mostly also feature a lot of empty seats:


An odd effect of what I did here with all these adverts is that the more money you spent on your advert and the bigger and wider and more noticeable your advert was, at the Oval, the thinner it now is on BMdotcom.

Life can be cruel.

Sunday September 13 2015

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.

Saturday September 12 2015

The day I spent at the Oval with Darren last Monday was enjoyable for me in so many ways.  I am now definitely considering becoming a Surrey Member myself next season, a snip at just under two hundred quid.  Seriously, that’s how great a day it was for me.  But it was not quite the day that I had been expecting.

The thing was, Surrey had, after many disappointments in the recent past, finally been promoted just three days earlier.  Half way through the game against Derby, the reportage was all about how well Derby had been doing.  But the Surrey first innings tail did not so much wag as flail like the tail of a crocodile, and then the Surrey spinners polished Derby off on day four, to win the game by an innings and plenty, with several hours to spare.

So, last Monday, I was expecting the Oval to be seething with boisterous celebration.  But once the game began, I soon realised that this was not going to happen.  The place was that far from being deserted, and looked even more sparsely populated from where Darren and I were at first sitting, what with the bulk of the Surrey support being below us and out of our sight.

The thing about last Monday was that it was on a Monday.  And why this game, of all games, on a Monday?  A semi-final of the annual 50-50 county tournament ought surely to be staged at a time when regular people can show up to watch it, shouldn’t it?  So, why wasn’t it?

The answer of course is: television:

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That’s Gary Wilson of Surrey striding off at the end of the Surrey innings (they batted first), doing a great job of pretending that the TV guy who is poking his huge camera in his face just isn’t there.

These are not the kind of pictures of cricket that you usually see, are they?  Usually, you see only the sort of pictures that this TV guy himself is taking, not pictures of him.  He is not supposed to be part of the story which he is, so very obtrusively, helping to tell.  Yet even the very day on which this match took place cannot be explained without reference to that TV guy, and all his mates.


That’s a picture, taken moments later, of Sky TV discussing that Surrey first innings with Notts fast bowler and recent England Ashes hero Stuart Broad.  What did Broad say?  I don’t know.  I wasn’t watching this game on my telly.  I was merely there.

But why Monday, rather than Sunday or Saturday?  I mean, more people watch the telly at the weekend, surely.  Well yes, they do.  And Sky TV did indeed show the first semi-final on Sunday.  (Yorkshire, crowned only days later as the 2015 champions of the four day game, were beaten in this first semi-final by Gloucester, with surprising ease.) So, why not the other semi- between Surrey and Notts, on the Saturday?

Because on Saturday, Sky TV were showing the second England v Australia ODI, and there would be no point in Sky buying both those games if they had happened on the same one day.  So, the other semi- got shoved over to Monday.  The schools were back at school.  Workers were back at work.  But, television rules.

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So this was mostly an Old Geezer day, from the live spectator point of you.  But, despite all those empty seats, this particular Old Geezer had a terrific time, not least because of all those TV cameramen whom I was able to take photos of.

I promise nothing, but I do now hope that there’ll be a whole lot more to follow about this marvellous day out.