Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
Patrick Crozier on Shiny little Aston Martin
Mike on Swarm Manned Aerial Vehicle Multirotor Super Drone
Vitrier Gujan-Mestras on Designing and building with glass
Brian Micklethwait on The wait continues
MarkR on The wait continues
Brian Micklethwait on An old American car in Tottenham Court Road
Sam Duncan on An old American car in Tottenham Court Road
6000 on London Biggin Hill "Jet Centre"?
6000 on William Hague on the collapse of the centre left
Brian Micklethwait on William Hague on the collapse of the centre left
Most recent entries
- Here begins the Essex Way
- Glass Build white van
- BT Tower with cranes
- Shiny little Aston Martin
- On packaging – and on the need to chuck it out
- View of the footbridge - view from the footbridge
- Juliet Barker on Knights of Old: A lot of history in one paragraph
- Crane on fire
- I was photoing white vans in February 2007
- Early thoughts on the Rugby World Cup
- What’s this?
- Tricycle transport
- Marmite crisps are back!
- Dark Satanic Millbank Tower
- A day in BMdotcom heaven (4): A tale of two penultimate overs
Other Blogs I write for
6000 Miles from Civilisation
A Decent Muesli
Adventures in Capitalism
Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise
Another Food Blog
Antoine Clarke's Election Watch
Armed and Dangerous
Art Of The State Blog
Boatang & Demetriou
Burning Our Money
Chase me ladies, I'm in the cavalry
China Law Blog
Civilian Gun Self-Defense Blog
Coffee & Complexity
Communities Dominate Brands
Confused of Calcutta
Conservative Party Reptile
Counting Cats in Zanzibar
Deleted by tomorrow
Don't Hold Your Breath
Douglas Carswell Blog
Dr Robert Lefever
Englands Freedome, Souldiers Rights
Everything I Say is Right
Fat Man on a Keyboard
Ferraris for all
Freedom and Whisky
From The Barrel of a Gun
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Global Warming Politics
Greg Mankiw's Blog
Guido Fawkes' blog
Here Comes Everybody
Hit & Run
House of Dumb
Iain Dale's Diary
Jeffrey Archer's Official Blog
Jessica Duchen's classical music blog
Laissez Faire Books
Last of the Few
Libertarian Alliance: Blog
Liberty Dad - a World Without Dictators
Lib on the United Kingdom
Little Man, What Now?
Loic Le Meur Blog
L'Ombre de l'Olivier
London Daily Photo
Metamagician and the Hellfire Club
Michael J. Totten's Middle East Journal
More Than Mind Games
Mutualist Blog: Free Market Anti-Capitalism
My Boyfriend Is A Twat
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Nation of Shopkeepers
Never Trust a Hippy
Non Diet Weight Loss
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On an Overgrown Path
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Oxford Libertarian Society /blog
Patri's Peripatetic Peregrinations
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Setting The World To Rights
SimonHewittJones.com The Violin Blog
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we make money not art
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Category archive: Business
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.
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.
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.
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.
A while back, there used to be Walkers Marmite flavoured crisps. Then, they went away. I mourned their passing.
… 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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
This afternoon I was meeting someone at London City Airport, and while waiting for their flight to arrive I took this photo, of the big TV screen showing flight arrivals:
Milan, Alitalia. Amsterdam, CityJet. Exeter, Flybe. Isle of Man, British Airways. Okay. But what is Rotterdam, “Jet Centre”? And what of London Biggin Hill, “Jet Centre”? That was the one that got me noticing this. Biggin Hill? I didn’t realise that was any sort of regular London airport.
Googling, when I got back home to my desk, confirmed my earlier guess that wherever it says “Jet Centre”, this means it’s a private jet, leaving from the “Jet Centre” at wherever it was. I am still not entirely clear about this, but that does seem to be what is happening. Can anyone confirm or correct this?
Private jets, and the people wafted hither and thither in them, inhabit a world that I pretty much never encounter. But at London City Airport, assuming I’m right about the “Jet Centre” equals private jet thing, the worlds of value-for-money regular-people aviation and of money-no-object plutocrat aviation overlap, to the point where both of these worlds appear on the same London City Airport TV screen. Whether the plutocrats use the same airport facilities as the rest of us, I do not know. Same runways, presumably. But same arrivals and departures places? I suspect not.
Either way, I bet it costs them. I guess it’s a case of if you have to ask, then you can’t afford it, but I have to ask. How much do they charge to land a private jet near to the middle of London? Excuse me while I do some more Googling. …
Well, I still don’t know, but according to this piece, there is no London airport in the top ten on the list, so it must cost less than £2,530. I was expecting it to be a bit more than that, somehow.
There is every chance that, by and by, Michael Jennings, globetrotter extraordinaire, will append a comment to this posting. If he does, you can be sure that his comment will be a lot more informative than this posting has been.
I’m concocting a short Samizdata posting which will need, if and when it ever materialises, its readers to be able to read what it says in this:
Samizdata readers! If you need this bigger to read it, click on it!
When I first started noticing new architecture about fifty years ago, glass figured prominently in the ravings of Modernist propagandists, being the means by which buildings made themselves transparent and thereby proclaimed their structural honesty and modernity.
This same glass was routinely hated by those obliged to live or work behind it. Glass was the means by which unfortunate inmates of Modernism were fried in the summer, frozen in the winter, or had their skirts looked up through by passing oglers. The heating and air-conditioning bills could be stupendous. Often, inmates shoved cardboard behind this glass, to diminish its worst impacts. Glass in modernistic buidings regularly got broken, often deliberately, not least because first generation modern buildings, at any rate in the UK, often brought out the worst in those subjected to it.
How times have changed, by which I mean: how glass has changed. It is far more varied now, far more cleverly made, far stronger and less breakable, and far more carefully used in buildings. Which is not surprising given that glass has only grown in importance, and in the percentage of the surface area of buildings that it now covers.
What follows is the whole of a short report, by Chris Jarvis of Sheppard Robson, of a round table conversation in which he participated last May, about the use of glass in building, organised by the Architect’s Journal.
The prose is sometimes rather businessy and clunky, but I found the content fascinating:
The conversation was focused on the specification of high-performance glazing. More specifically, how fundamental changes within the industry – which include shifts in legislation and the drive for efficiency in our built environment – have resulted in the specification of glass being determined much earlier in the design process.
Glazing is no longer an adjunct that is decided upon once a concept design is complete and planning has been granted. Issues such as orientation, shading and air-tightness need to be considered in the early stages of projects along with the specification of the glass to ensure the target energy performances can be met. Rigorous energy modelling is also important to enable the right glazing option to be chosen for project, site and client.
Availability of data
One of the key challenges in the specification process is the availability of the necessary rigorous data on materials. Currently, there is a feeling across the industry that the level of detailed product information is not readily available across the board. This provokes the question of how can technology be harnessed to collate the necessary technical performance and cost data - which architects, façade engineers and contractors can use - to make the right choices earlier in the process.
A holistic approach needs to be taken to assess all of the above criteria and select the most appropriate single, double or triple glazed units to meet the performance requirements, whilst staying within budget. Triple glazing is not currently a widely used material to boost performance, mostly due to the cost of the product. However, over the next few years this is likely to change: as triple glazing products become more widely used and technology develops to decrease the weight of the product, it will become more viable for projects and client budgets.
However, the use of more advanced, highly tuned technology requires more monitoring after completion to access the efficiency of the product over the lifespan of the building. Currently, rigorous data of how glazing performs after 10 and more years does not exist; how can new products help the industry close the ‘performance gap’ and alert us to poorly performing glass that is ultimately having a major impact on the efficiency of our built environment.
I chanced upon this at the Sheppard Robson website after photoing one of their buildings, the new headquarters of the Salvation Army, near St Paul’s, and then looking that up on the www:
It looks good, even if custom build HQs often spell trouble for the organisations which move into them.
While I’m on the subject of glass, several incoming emails have wanted to be sure that I had clocked this:
That’s a swimming pool made of glass. I yearn to photo oligarchical mistresses frolicking about in it, but, no chance. This will be inside a very gated community, in the vicinity of the new US Embassy in Battersea. I am optimistic, however, that we might all eventually catch a glimpse of such a thing in a James Bond movie, complete with frolicking oligarchical mistresses.
The above picture, and further details, here.
Photoed by me, outside Earls Court Tube, last night:
Click on that to get the bigger, truer, duller, original picture.
Or maybe that should be “pedicab”.
I’m somewhat surprised that I don’t see this more often:
By this, I mean the short of slim, attractive woman whom you regularly see paying to exercise on a stationary bicycle, through the windows of exercise parlours. So, why not put all that peddling to good use, and why not get paid for it?
Something tells me that this is just too much exercise, and of the wrong sort.
But, interesting lady, I think. I wonder what the rest of her life will consist of? Something quite interesting, would be my guess. What she is doing requires not just an above average physique but also a certain independence of mind, to just not be bothered about all the surprised and “admiring” looks she must regularly get. (To say nothing of all the photos.)
My photo of her is recent, taken earlier this month in Victoria Street.
Today, a truly wonderful White Van sped through my field of vision, but by the time I had extracted my camera from my bag it had been and gone. But, I remembered the name advertised on it ("Upshot"), and better yet the service advertised ("Ground Based Aerial Photography"), and when I got home I looked the story up. A truly twenty first centurion would have looked it up on the spot.
I had to look up the acronyms UAV and ROV. UAV is Unmanned Aerial Vehicle and ROV is Remotely Operated Vehicle. I sort of knew those, but needed to be sure. But yes, drones.
The language at this website is pervasively evasive:
Given the nature of our work we cannot always advertise the scope of our experience, ...
Indeed. The word “surveillance"s occurs quite a lot. It’s all a bit creepy. But then, photography so often is, I think.
But, I did like this photo, of lots of photographers:
Click to get it bigger.
I love to photo tourist crap in tourist crap shops. And I am able to report a new arrival in the tourist crap shops, or at any rate an arrival that I have not noticed until now. Yes, they are now selling selfie sticks, in large numbers. Either that or they are not selling selfie sticks in large numbers, and have reduced them to clear:
I took that photo today on my way from Oxford Street to Holborn tube station. I would have taken the tube, but the Central Line currently fails to stop at Tottenham Court Road tube station, so I walked instead.
Later, outside Buckingham Palace, a place I do not normally frequent but tube strikes have peculiar effects on travel habits, I spied a Bald Bloke taking photos of a guardsman. And he was using a selfie stick.
What I think we see here is an interesting “other” use for selfie sticks, which is simply for holding your camera-phone more steadily than you might if you merely used your unaided hands. It is important that selfie sticks can be scrunched up to something quite short, which can then operate as a simple handle. I am seeing this kind of thing quite a lot, now I come to think about it.
Selfie sticks, hated by opinionated would-be opinion-formers, looking for some stupid new way to denounce the Depravity of Modern Life. But people ignore the opinionated would-be opinion-formers and just go ahead and use their selfie sticks, whenever they feel inclined.
This guy, with his bright blue hood, looked vaguely academic I think. He isn’t academic, you understand. He just looks that way in my photo.