Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
Michael Jennings on Indian sign cautions against selfie sticks
Grades Home Cleaning on Spring in Islington
Leanjie on Die Meistersinger was very good
Brian Micklethwait on Photoing last Friday's Last Friday meeting
Michael Jennings on Photoing last Friday's Last Friday meeting
Brian Micklethwait on Tim Marshall on 'Sykes-Picot'
Patrick Crozier on Tim Marshall on 'Sykes-Picot'
kenforthewin on The most newsworthy thing so far done by a drone
6000 on UPS drones and drone vans
6000 on Guess what this is
Most recent entries
- Indian sign cautions against selfie sticks
- Leake Street photo session
- Longer life would make most of us (certainly me) more energetic and ambitious
- Azure Window broken
- Beltane & Pop van parked on the South Bank yesterday afternoon
- New River Walk
- Die Meistersinger was very good
- Spring in Islington
- ROH Covent Garden here I come
- Today’s plan
- Photoing the faces of strangers (or in my case: not)
- England crush Scotland in the 6N – plus the hugeness of home advantage
- If Pugs could fly
- Chronicle Tower and its roof (and window-cleaning crane)
- More Dezeenery
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Category archive: Civil liberties
Adams is being “shadow banned” by Twitter, as he notes in this posting:
As many others have documented, Twitter throttles back the tweets of people who hold political views they don’t like.
What “throttles back” means is that you can still read it, but nobody else can. I think.
To outwit this shadow banning, Scott Adams has devised a cunning plan involving kittens, which I absolutely do not understand the details of, but which he mentions several times during the above-linked-to video ramble. (It’s a good ramble, but a ramble.) Whenever he writes about things that Twitter’s censorship committee disapproves of him writing about (Trump and the climate debate being the two big ones at present), he tweets instead that he has done a piece about kittens. This will alert his followers to a posting that Twitter wants crushed. In order to shadow ban this, Twitter would have to shadow ban all kittens which would break the internet, and all humans also because they would be laughing so much. Or something. I don’t see why Twitter can’t just shadow ban Scott Adams whenever he mentions kittens, along with whenever he mentions Trump or mentions the climate debate. But what do I know?
New word: outweet.
I always knew, when I started Friday-blogging about cats and kittens here, that this topic would become highly significant from time to time, on account (for instance) of politicians being jealous of all the attention that cats and kittens were getting. (Prediction: at some point during the next thousand years or so, climate permitting, a cat or kitten will be elected President of the United States.)
But this particular Scott Adams kitten-tweeting circumstance I did not see coming.
I’ve visited the top of the Tate Modern Extension several times in recent weeks, so this story particularly entertained me:
Here’s the story:
Residents of the Rogers Stirk Harbour-designed Neo Bankside apartments have threatened legal action, after Tate Modern opened an observation deck that provides views into their private apartments.
The 360-degree rooftop viewing deck is one of the headline features of the Switch House – the 64.5-metre-high Tate Modern gallery extension by Herzog & de Meuron, which opened to the public in June.
But residents of the adjacent apartment complex have claimed that gallery visitors are using zoom-lens cameras and binoculars to peer inside their glass-walled homes and take photographs.
Having failed to reach a solution with Tate, the homeowners are now seeking legal action to regain their privacy.
I was particularly diverted by this bit:
So far the only change has been the addition of a sign asking Tate visitors to be more considerate.
Dezeen does not show any picture of this sign, but here, I can, because I photoed it several weeks ago:
I remember thinking at the time that this is almost contemptuously perfunctory. I’m not surprised that it failed to subdue the snoopers
I believe that, as London gets more and more interesting, and full of more and more intriguing Big Things, there will be more and more such viewing platforms like this one at Tate Modern. So, this problem of what you can see from such platforms that people don’t want you to see isn’t going to go away.
And the problem gets far worse when you consider that zoom lenses are only going to get ever more powerful. I often joke here that my camera has better eyesight than I do, and it’s true. But pretty soon, all cameras will have better eyesight than everyone.
It could be that about half of this particular viewing platform will be shut down, in which case, I need to make sure now that I have seen everything from that part of it that I can, before this happens.
I’d prefer the other idea, which is that these people living in glass houses should have one way mirrors installed, so they can see out but the rest of us can’t see in. But then, expect the internet to be awash with before/after photos.
Sangakkara, having had time off to go and win the Caribbean Premier League with his team out there, has been back playing for Surrey in recent days, with his usual huge distinction. He made the highest score of the match in Surrey’s win against Warwickshire in the County Championship, and he made that match winning 130 not out against Northants, to get Surrey to the semi-finals of this year’s 50 overs tournament.
The best time for this photo-tribute to the great man would have been just after I took all the photos. But now feels like the second best time for it. Very late is not good, but it is a lot better than never.
The first lot of pictures are of Sanga scoring his 166, of him becoming increasingly tired while doing this, and of him walking off after getting out to first ball of the final over of the Surrey innings.
Several of these shots are of – ho ho – shots. One shot should be particularly noted. This is the so-called “ramp” shot, which is when the batsman scoops the ball right over where his head would have been, straight behind the wicketkeeper or thereabouts, hopefully for a boundary. Sanga did at least one of these last September, as you can see (2.2). And he did another, even more spectacularly, when he ramped a six in the last over of that one wicket victory over Northants. (Very short YouTube video of that here.)
I also particularly like the shot of Samit Patel of Notts congratulating Sanga (3.2), as he walks back to the pavilion.
And the second lot of photos are of what Sanga did after this great innings. He fielded (4.1). And oh look, who is that doing exercises in the foreground? That would be Jade Dernbach.
After the game had concluded with a narrow Surrey win, Sanga was given a Man of the Match medal (4.2), and a Man of the Match bottle of Champagne (4.4). Surrey commentator Mark Church interviewed Sanga (5.2). And then (5.3 to 6.4) Sanga mingled with us punters, and had his photo taken by lots of us including by a very happy me, who by then was but a few feet away from him:
Note in particular the Bald Bloke, with a very battered old-school looking camera, whom I managed to include in a couple of my shots (5.3 and 6.1). Maybe I am in some of his shots.
Finally, a bone weary Sanga decides that he really has done enough mingling, and he makes his bone weary way up the steps to the Surrey dressing room (6.3). But then, he gets ambushed yet again by an admirer, a kid (6.4), and he obliges with one last shot, before making his final exit.
Yes, I know, I show recognisable faces here. But a public sports ground is a very public place, and you don’t go there unless you are willing for your face to be included in photos and TV coverage of the event. Plus, if you place yourself right next to a Celeb, then you become fair photographic game, same as the Celeb himself is. Well, those are my rules.
One of my regular automatic google-searches is “face recognition”, and just now this has been alerting me to all the various tricks that are coming on stream for making face recognition not work, by putting on make-up, or spectacles, and such like.
Here is my contribution to this discussion:
I know what you’re thinking. Who might that be?
Exactly. Although, if you’re are supercomputer, you have probably worked it out. You have a special programme which tells you to take particular interest in any faces that are trying to not be recognised.
Most of my libertarian friends think that such tech solutions are the front line of this battle. I have long assumed that the world is moving rapidly towards a state where the question of what is X doing at the moment is technologically answerable, and impossible to prevent being answered. For me, among other desirable things, libertarianism is the claim that although we can see X saying or doing something we don’t approve of, we shouldn’t legally prevent him or her from doing that, unless it is really, really bad.
In a world of Total Surveillance by the Big Machine, the proliferation of stupid rules and regulations with no huge moral content becomes a problem like it never used to be. I means rules about things like what you should eat or smoke or, now, say in conversation. Rules like that mean that we can all now be seen and heard breaking such rules. (Okay, maybe not now, maybe not yet, but that’s where things are headed.) And that means that anyone who wants to fuck up your life or my life (for an actual real reason that has bugger all to do with the stupid rule actually being broken) can then do it. Worse, some legislative maniac might demand that anyone that the Big Machine sees breaking this or that rule that he personally is obsessed about, should be automatically fucked over, by the Big Machine, with no human intervention involved. With a big long list of exceptions, like legislators. The Big Machine can’t touch them. Libertarianism has arisen, partly, because it has become ever more necessary to insist on certain principles, principles which were imposed upon the world in former times by sheer ignorance of what other people were getting up to.
The other thing people have to do is develop thicker skins, psychologically speaking I mean, because although legislative pressure is not now a problem for most people, social pressure can become a big problem, for example if you find yourself being mobbed on the internet for some innocuous thing you said or ate. Just because a million idiots on the internet are screeching that you are an idiot, that doesn’t mean you are, or that if you are, it matters. When it does matter, bosses should chill, and not fire people just because the mob is screeching. I applaud, tentatively, the recent tendency to give social media mobsters a going-over, using the same methods on them that they have been using. Who is this mad bitch? What has she (it does often seem to be she) been up to lately? What is her job? Who is her boss? Etc. (In the age of cyber-bullying, I feel that I now understand witchcraft crazes better.)
Another problem is that as something easily mistaken for a state of everyone knowing everything increasingly pertains, that old illusion that everything will accordingly be centrally plannable is likely to keep rearing its very ugly head, and keep on having to be experienced as a disastrous illusion. (More libertarianism.) The point is, everyone doesn’t know everything. Nothing like. We can’t. Our heads aren’t big enough, and even if they were, knowledge is not like that. Everyone can known anything in particular that is easy to know (like where X is just now) that they want to know and ask the Big Machine about. That’s entirely different from actual omniscience.
My rule for violating anonymity here at this blog, by sticking up recognisable pictures of strangers, is that if they are making a spectacle of themselves, then it is okay for me to carry on doing what they started. Someone wearing a weird costume in public or doing something weird in public, or just very deliberately looking spectacularly beautiful in public, are fair game.
There is nothing weird about this guy’s costume, whom I spied at Oxford Circus tube station last night, but he was behaving rather weirdly. So I photoed him, and here he is:
He, I am sure, had no idea that I was photoing him while he was photoing. Any more than I would have noticed if someone else had been photoing me while I was photoing him. Which it would have made perfect sense, to me anyway, for someone else to do. If I saw a bloke photoing a bloke photoing in the tube, I’d have photoed the pair of them like a shot, and what a shot it might have been.
Maybe a Real Photographer would like the lack of advertising in the advertising spots there, preferring arty grunge to vulgar commerce. But I reckon that adverts might have added even more fun to those shots, especially if there had been some relevant slogan or slogans involved. But now I’m just being greedy.
When it’s finished, it will look, according to the picture on the outside of the site (which is an outdoor hard copy of the first picture here), like this:
Here is what it and its surroundings will look like from above. My home can be found in that picture, this Thing being only a short walk away from it.
But, as of now, in contrast to the above simulations, it looks like this, which I think I somewhat prefer (what with all that lovely scaffolding):
Hang on. Is that a Christmas tree I see up there (in among all that lovely scaffolding)? Yes it is:
After I started taking photos of this Thing Under Construction, together with its Christmas tree, one of the men doing the constructing made “stop doing that” gestures. I was standing on a public pavement. They were building a small skyscraper with a Christmas tree on the side of it. Did they think they could keep this secret, and impose martial law for a quarter of a mile around all this? I just laughed out loud and carried on, and of course they did nothing about it.
Can you spot why “Sculpture” is included in the category list below?
In October, I posted this, provoked by seeing a drone in a London shop window. I said stuff like this:
Something tells me that this gadget is going to generate some contentious news stories about nightmare neighbours, privacy violations, and who knows what other fights and furores.
What might the paps do with such toys? And how soon before two of these things crash into each other?
I should also then have read and linked to this piece, published by Wired in February. Oh well. I’m linking to it now.
Sooner or later there will inevitably be a case when the privacy of a celebrity is invaded, a drone crashes and kills someone, or a householder takes the law into their own hands and shoots a drone down.
Quite aside from privacy issues, what sort of noise do these things make? That alone could be really annoying. (Although that link is also very good as a discussion of privacy issues. Noise is only the start of their discussion.)
My guess? These things will catch on, but at first only for niche markets, like photoing sports events, or, in general, photoing inside large privately owned places where the owner can make his own rules and others then just have to take them or leave them. Pop concerts. If they’re not too noisy, they might be good for that.
This is always how new technology first arrives. Ever since personal computers the assumption has tended to be that the latest gizmo will immediately go personal, so to speak. (Consider 3D printing.) But actually, personal use is, at any rate to begin with, rather a problem. At first, the new gizmo finds little niche markets. Only later, if at all, do things get personal.
Which is why, I think, the first two sightings I have made of photo drones have each been in shop windows, the first in the window of Maplins in the Strand (see the link above), and the most recent, shown below, in the window of Maplins in Tottenham Court Road:
And a creepy Christmas to you. I guess this is the gadget of choice of “Secret Santa”.
Which reminds me. Now is the time I start taking photos of signs saying “Merry Christmas” to stick up here instead of sending out Christmas cards. Will I find a weirder “Merry Christmas” than that? Quite possibly not.
I am looking forward to photoing one of these things out in the wild.
Last Wednesday and Thursday, I attended two talks, both at lunchtime, at and arranged by the Adam Smith Institute. No event links because information about the first talk has already vanished from the ASI website, and information about the second hasn’t yet but presumably soon will.
On Wednesday, Russ Roberts talked about how to do libertarianism. I agreed with pretty much everything he said, having long ago written very similar things, in particular in this. Guy Herbert talked, on Thursday, about the Human Rights Act 1998. He is, with qualifications and hesitations, for it. He told me afterwards that the text of his talk will be available on line very soon, so I’ll try to add a link later to this posting, at the bottom. If I fail, perhaps a commenter could remind me. (LATER: Actually, I’ll add the link to the text (as Samizdata) here.)
At the talk given by Russ Roberts I forgot to take any pictures. But at the talk given by Guy Herbert yesterday, I remembered. This was the right way round to remember and forget. There are many fine pictures of Russ Roberts on line, far fewer of Guy Herbert.
Here is one of the better ones I took of Guy:
And here, on the left, is another one that I liked:
On the right there is the explanation of the picture on the left. I took it through the gap at the top of the empty chair in front of me. No, I do not know who David Penfold is. I’m guessing he is the David Penfold mentioned as something to do with this.
The audience for the Russ Roberts talk was packed into the small room it was given in. The Guy Herbert talk, in the same room, was less well attended, hence that empty chair in front of me. But that’s because its subject matter was less of an ASI core concern. It was about things outside the free market comfort zone. Which is good. That sends out a signal. We don’t only operate inside our comfort zone. There is a bigger, wider world out there. We think about that also.
I have my favourite bloggers. Mick Hartley, 6k and David Thompson being my most regular visitees. Two of these three (see those two links) often put up clips of their favourite bits of music, which I pretty much always ignore. Often, when confronted by other people’s favourite musical snippets, I already have music playing, on my separate music box which is nothing to do with my computer and which therefore works when I most need it, which is when my computer is not working.
I tend not to do stick up bits of my favourite sort of music, which is classical. Partly I’m lazy and am not very clever about putting up Youtube clips here. But I could put up lots of links (one follows below) to classical stuff. But, I tend not to. There are enough reasons for people to strike this blog off their weekly-read list or whatever, without me putting them off even more with bits of classical music.
Now, first off, I have no problem with bloggers posting whatever they like. Their gaff their rules. I put whatever I like (as in like to put) here, and they can put whatever they like to put at their places. But, am I the only one who almost always ignores music at other people’s blogs? Most of us like lots of random bits of pop music, old and new. In my case, there’s also a ton of classical classics I like a lot, and others also have their favourite genres that they know all about, adore some of and like a huge proportion of.
I mention this because, entirely for my own selfish reasons, I particularly want to be able to remind myself of this clip of someone called Yulianna Avdeeva playing Chopin, particularly well to my ear. And maybe that’s it. Bloggers use their blogs as personal filing cabinets, just as I do. They put up bits of music because they want always to be able to get hold of that bit quickly, and now they know they can. The readers can just wait for the next posting, and pick up where they left off. (That link, by the way, is to a bit of classical music at a blog that specialises in classical music. Quite often I do play the clips she features, because her kind of music is my kind of music. What I’m on about here is musical clips at blogs which are mostly about non-musical things.)
I think another point being made with these bits of music is the point I make with my occasional Friday cat blogging, which is that a lot of the appeal of blogging in particular and life in general is pure enjoyment. And music, perhaps more than any other art, and especially when no words are involved or in the case of the more upbeat and silly pop tracks, is all about pure enjoyment.
By the way, when I started writing this, I thought that David Thompson also featured occasional pop snippets. So I went looking for his latest pop snippet, but found that actually he does not do this, or not lately, hence no link to any music at his blog in the second sentence of this posting. But I did find this talk, by Greg Lukianoff, about the growing menace of the I-Am-Offended industry on American campuses. Quite long, but recommended.
SInce I started on this posting, Mick Hartley stuck up another pop clip. Again, I have not listened, and probably won’t ever.
That’s a camera, as well as a pair of specs.
The basic reason they won’t ban digital photography in public places is that pretty soon, they won’t be able to see it happening. (That and how such a ban would screw around with the tourist trade.)
And yes, I know, there’ll be all kinds of sneaky electronic trickery to detect photography, even when it’s invisible to the naked eye, but your basic plods, both public sector and the now equally ubiquitous private sector sort, just won’t see it happening.
Well, we’re soon going to find out.
Photoed by me this afternoon, on the outside of Tate Modern. Click to get slighly more of Tate Modern, but not very much more. It used to be a power station.
Google google. Here we go:
Leading British artists launched a campaign Wednesday calling for the release of prominent Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who was detained last month amid a major crackdown on dissent.
Damien Hirst and Indian-born Anish Kapoor were among those who joined a campaign launched by The Times newspaper demanding the release of Ai, penning messages of support which were printed on a double-page spread in the paper.
“Today The Times calls for the immediate release of the Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei,” said the paper.
“So far international calls for his release have been ignored by the Chinese authorities.”
And I don’t suppose it helps much that the Times website now hides behind a paywall.
I wonder what the Chinese Government have done to Rupert Murdoch to make him permit a campaign like this. I seem to recall him sucking up to China, so he could do telly there. Indeed. Has that deal gone sour?
Still, whatever the media machinations behind this campaign, I agree with it. Release Ai Weiwei.
A while back I did a posting here about a big sign, covered in anal-retentive, litigation-phobic instructions about health and safety.
This posting now is basically a clutch of other signage photos I took that same day, on that same expedition.
Signs are extremely communicative of the kind of times you live in, of the kind of place you were at, of the kind of event you were at, of the kind of assumptions your world is flooded with. Also, more than buildings, they change, and good photography homes in particularly on that which will not always there. Signs also tell you the dumb facts about where you were, and what you were looking at, which are easily forgotten if all you have is pictures with random number names. Signs give you google handles, the way imagery can’t, yet.
So, what I’m saying is, yes I know that most of these snaps that follow in this clutch of squares are pretty mundane, but I like them. I hope that, if you click on squares that particularly intrigue you, you will also like what you see.
First, a sign saying where I was going and roughly where I was when I took these. Like I say, some dumb facts. Apologies for the blurriness of several of the snaps that follow, especially in this first one. At the point I took this, I still thought that all I was doing with this map was taking a note for myself. I still hadn’t realised that this was a whole new category of bloggableness, or I would have taken a bit more trouble. But, it still tells the approximate story.
So now, the clutch of squares:
When will signs start appearing saying that photography in public places is forbidden? I suspect, actually: only a bit, in particular places.
One, cameras will soon be so small as to be undetectable. People can already take photos with their all purpose mobile gizmos without any security goon being any the wiser, even if standing only a few yards away. Soon, we will all be able to snap photos with the top buttons on our shirts, or from our hats.
And two, as soon as any such signs forbidding photo-ing do start to appear, in ways that are at all silly, they will be relentlessly snapped, internetted, and mocked. Hey Big Brother, do you really think that we the people will accept a world in which only you are allowed to take photos in public? In your dreams sunshine.
Comments telling me that this is already happening (preferably with links) would of course be especially welcome.
Peter Tatchell is one of the great mentches (is that spelt right?) of the libertarian movement in its broadest and most inclusive sense. He and the LA have long had a cordial if doctrinally a bit arms length relationship. The overlap on civil liberties, freedom of speech, etc., is considerable and that’s what he’s talking about now, very eloquently.
This was originally called “Tatchell photo”, and I have tried to add a picture, but that looks like it will have to wait. Maybe later.
Some very trenchant stuff at the end there about the superiority of superior cultures over inferior ones.
I’m watching a BBC Panorama documentary about the Scientology, which I recorded a fortnight ago. Scientology is an enterprise I do not admire. They are the living embodiment of the proposition that it is not only governments which destroy freedom and wellbeing. They imprison their members. The BBC is now heavily biased against them. Good for the BBC.
An MP called Charles Hendry has been mentioned, as one of their defenders (see this Private Eye report). They “do a lot of good” blah blah. He thinks Tom Cruise was “absolutely amazing” in Collateral. (Actually Tom Cruise was pretty good in Collateral, I think. He played a deeply creepy assassin, very convincingly.)
Charles Hendry is now the Coalition Government’s Minister for Climate Change. Is this a subtle ploy to discredit the whole climate change agenda? Sadly, I doubt it.
I just attached this rather eloquent comment to a Johnathan Pearce Samizdata posting about how he might emigrate out of here if Brown won the next election, Heaven help us:
I think JP is doing us a favour by talking about leaving, and would be doing us another favour if he did leave, if things got that bad.
No number tells politicians more clearly that they have to shape up and stop wrecking the place better than the number of people just buggering off. People leaving is the one number that tends to signify that things are about to get better, because it just can’t be ignored or spun. The number can be lied about, of course, but big queues to get out are hard to pass off as anything else.
It happened like this at the end of the 70s when all those movie stars upped sticks. They did us a favour too. They don’t call this “voting with your feet” for nothing.
Voice and exit.
Unless of course the Brown government builds a Berlin Wall around the country. But that would be pretty hard to miss also, if it worked. The more you have to sacrifice and risk to get out, the more dramatic it all looks, and the more obvious is the damage done by the lying bastards who did it.
And that’s the central problem now, making it clear how much damage is being done. That’s what the Brown gang are now all busy trying to conceal.
JP’s posting helps with this.
I wanted to have a diary entry, so to speak, about how I felt just now about it all. Comments at Samizdata are hard to get back to. Postings here are easier to get back to.
Other eloquent comments are rapidly accumulating.