Brian Micklethwait's Blog

In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

Home

www.google.co.uk


Recent Comments


Monthly Archives


Most recent entries


Search


Advanced Search


Other Blogs I write for

Brian Micklethwait's Education Blog

CNE Competition
CNE Intellectual Property
Samizdata
Transport Blog


Blogroll

2 Blowhards
6000 Miles from Civilisation
A Decent Muesli
Adloyada
Adventures in Capitalism
Alan Little
Albion's Seedling
Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise
Alex Singleton
AngloAustria
Another Food Blog
Antoine Clarke
Antoine Clarke's Election Watch
Armed and Dangerous
Art Of The State Blog
Biased BBC
Bishop Hill
BLDG BLOG
Bloggers Blog
Blognor Regis
Blowing Smoke
Boatang & Demetriou
Boing Boing
Boris Johnson
Brazen Careerist
Bryan Appleyard
Burning Our Money
Cafe Hayek
Cato@Liberty
Charlie's Diary
Chase me ladies, I'm in the cavalry
Chicago Boyz
China Law Blog
Cicero's Songs
City Comforts
Civilian Gun Self-Defense Blog
Clay Shirky
Climate Resistance
Climate Skeptic
Coffee & Complexity
Coffee House
Communities Dominate Brands
Confused of Calcutta
Conservative Party Reptile
Contra Niche
Contrary Brin
Counting Cats in Zanzibar
Скрипучая беседка
CrozierVision
Dave Barry
Davids Medienkritik
David Thompson
Deleted by tomorrow
deputydog
diamond geezer
Dilbert.Blog
Dizzy Thinks
Dodgeblogium
Don't Hold Your Breath
Douglas Carswell Blog
dropsafe
Dr Robert Lefever
Dr. Weevil
ecomyths
engadget
Englands Freedome, Souldiers Rights
English Cut
English Russia
EU Referendum
Ezra Levant
Everything I Say is Right
Fat Man on a Keyboard
Ferraris for all
Flickr blog
Freeborn John
Freedom and Whisky
From The Barrel of a Gun
ft.com/maverecon
Fugitive Ink
Future Perfect
FuturePundit
Gaping Void
Garnerblog
Gates of Vienna
Gizmodo
Global Warming Politics
Greg Mankiw's Blog
Guido Fawkes' blog
HE&OS
Here Comes Everybody
Hit & Run
House of Dumb
Iain Dale's Diary
Ideas
Idiot Toys
IMAO
Indexed
India Uncut
Instapundit
Intermezzo
Jackie Danicki
James Delingpole
James Fallows
Jeffrey Archer's Official Blog
Jessica Duchen's classical music blog
Jihad Watch
Joanne Jacobs
Johan Norberg
John Redwood
Jonathan's Photoblog
Kristine Lowe
Laissez Faire Books
Languagehat
Last of the Few
Lessig Blog
Libertarian Alliance: Blog
Liberty Alone
Liberty Dad - a World Without Dictators
Lib on the United Kingdom
Little Man, What Now?
listen missy
Loic Le Meur Blog
L'Ombre de l'Olivier
London Daily Photo
Londonist
Mad Housewife
Mangan's Miscellany
Marginal Revolution
Mark Wadsworth
Media Influencer
Melanie Phillips
Metamagician and the Hellfire Club
Michael Jennings
Michael J. Totten's Middle East Journal
Mick Hartley
More Than Mind Games
mr eugenides
Mutualist Blog: Free Market Anti-Capitalism
My Boyfriend Is A Twat
My Other Stuff
Natalie Solent
Nation of Shopkeepers
Neatorama
neo-neocon
Never Trust a Hippy
NO2ID NewsBlog
Non Diet Weight Loss
Normblog
Nurses for Reform blog
Obnoxio The Clown
Oddity Central
Oliver Kamm
On an Overgrown Path
One Man & His Blog
Owlthoughts of a peripatetic pedant
Oxford Libertarian Society /blog
Patri's Peripatetic Peregrinations
phosita
Picking Losers
Pigeon Blog
Police Inspector Blog
PooterGeek
Power Line
Private Sector Development blog
Public Interest.co.uk
Publius Pundit
Quotulatiousness
Rachel Lucas
RealClimate
Remember I'm the Bloody Architect
Rob's Blog
Sandow
Scrappleface
Setting The World To Rights
Shane Greer
Shanghaiist
SimonHewittJones.com The Violin Blog
Sinclair's Musings
Slipped Disc
Sky Watching My World
Social Affairs Unit
Squander Two Blog
Stephen Fry
Stuff White People Like
Stumbling and Mumbling
Style Bubble
Sunset Gun
Survival Arts
Susan Hill
Teblog
Techdirt
Technology Liberation Front
The Adam Smith Institute Blog
The Agitator
The AntRant
The Becker-Posner Blog
The Belgravia Dispatch
The Belmont Club
The Big Blog Company
The Big Picture
the blog of dave cole
The Corridor of Uncertainty (a Cricket blog)
The Croydonian
The Daily Ablution
The Devil's Advocate
The Devil's Kitchen
The Dissident Frogman
The Distributed Republic
The Early Days of a Better Nation
The Examined Life
The Filter^
The Fly Bottle
The Freeway to Serfdom
The Future of Music
The Futurist
The Happiness Project
The Jarndyce Blog
The London Fog
The Long Tail
The Lumber Room
The Online Photographer
The Only Winning Move
The Policeman's Blog
The Road to Surfdom
The Sharpener
The Speculist
The Surfer
The Wedding Photography Blog
The Welfare State We're In
things magazine
TigerHawk
Tim Blair
Tim Harford
Tim Worstall
tomgpalmer.com
tompeters!
Transterrestrial Musings
UK Commentators - Laban Tall's Blog
UK Libertarian Party
Unqualified Offerings
Violins and Starships
Virginia Postrel
Vodkapundit
WebUrbanist
we make money not art
What Do I Know?
What's Up With That?
Where the grass is greener
White Sun of the Desert
Why Evolution Is True
Your Freedom and Ours


Websites


Mainstream Media

BBC
Guardian
Economist
Independent
MSNBC
Telegraph
The Sun
This is London
Times


Syndicate

RSS 1.0
RSS 2.0
Atom
Feedburner
Podcasts


Categories

Advertising
Africa
Anglosphere
Architecture
Art
Asia
Atheism
Australasia
Billion Monkeys
Bits from books
Bloggers and blogging
Books
Brian Micklethwait podcasts
Brians
Bridges
Business
Career counselling
Cartoons
Cats and kittens
China
Civil liberties
Classical music
Comedy
Comments
Computer graphics
Cranes
Crime
Current events
Democracy
Design
Digital photographers
Drones
Economics
Education
Emmanuel Todd
Environment
Europe
Expression Engine
Family
Food and drink
France
Friends
Getting old
Globalisation
Healthcare
History
How the mind works
India
Intellectual property
Japan
Kevin Dowd
Language
Latin America
Law
Libertarianism
Links
Literature
London
Media and journalism
Middle East and Islam
Movies
Music
My blog ruins
My photographs
Open Source
Opera
Other creatures
Painting
Photography
Podcasting
Poetry
Politics
Pop music
Propaganda
Quote unquote
Radio
Religion
Roof clutter
Russia
Scaffolding
Science
Science fiction
Sculpture
Signs and notices
Social Media
Society
Software
South America
Space
Sport
Technology
Television
The internet
The Micklethwait Clock
Theatre
This and that
This blog
Transport
Travel
USA
Video
War


Category archive: France

Thursday November 01 2018

I recall speculating here (by quoting Bill Bryson) that a reason why Modernism is so monochromatic is that there was a time about a hundred years ago when the two hardest colours to get right in painted form, and hence the two most modern colours, were: black; and: white.

Early, monochrome photography was also a big reason for architectural modernity not to care about colour.  The most modern buildings were the ones that looked like black and white photos.

This has been a long time changing, but changing it finally is.  There was Renzo Piano, and his brightly coloured buildings near Centre Point in London.  And now here comes this, by Jean Nouvel:

image

It’s the right hand of the two towers that I’m concerned with here, not with the other tower, or not with the crane or the bridge, bonuses though the latter two undoubtedly are.

Jean Nouvel has tricked his tower out in red, white and blue.  It’s in Marseille, and is called La Marseillaise.

My immediate reaction is: a bit of a mess.  Looks like he did this with three cans of spray paint, and in about twenty seconds.  But, if I got to see it in the flesh, with all the complexities of the detailing, I might well like it a lot.

But my opinion about the beauty or lack of it of this building is beside my point, which is that colour is finally creeping into fashion, as part of architectural modernity.

It has taken a long time, because architectural fashion always does take a long time.  This is because architects, unlike more regular artists, peak very late, a bit like classical conductors and for the same reason.  Which is that architects (like conductors), in order to peak, have to be very powerful, by which I mean, liked and supported and paid for by lots of other powerful people.  Powerful people tend to be old.

And sure enough, when I looked up the architect of this tricoloured tower, Jean Nouvel, I learned that his is now 73, having been born in 1945.  In other words, he is now entering the architectural promised land, that land being where he can design buildings exactly as he pleases, and the clients build them and reckon themselves lucky to have got him.

I could now add other coloured modernism photos, and make further points about why this trend is now happening, and happening so powerfully.  But the trick with blogging is to keep it brief, and if a subject matters to you, to come back to it again and again, while linking back to earlier pieces make the same big point.

So, expect plenty more here about coloured architectural modernity.

Wednesday October 24 2018

Here’s the original, i.e. the Hartley version:

image

And here’s another way of looking at the same thing, i.e. cropped into a square:

image

I have long believed that the Le Corbusier version of the Modern Movement in Architecture has its origins in the South of France and the north of Africa for a very good reason, which is that the light there is such that it looks good there.  Anything looks good there, but concrete looks especially good..

And when the light is like that in London, it looks good in London too.

The photo taken three days ago.

Thursday October 11 2018

A regular way I find good photos to stick up here is that I go looking for good photos, of one sort, and find good photos, of another sort.  So it was this evening:

imageimageimage
imageimageimage

That’s a guy I photoed in Parliament Square in July of 2013, in the spot people use to photo Big Ben.  He is using two cameras.  One is a regular Canon SLR.  But the other …?  It’s a Rolleiflex, but have no idea which exact sort of Rolleiflex.

Apparently Rolleiflexes are TLR cameras.  TLR equals twin lens reflex.  So now I know all about Rolleiflexes.

The guy has French words on his shirt.  Are Rolleiflexes particularly liked in France?  Or is that just some idiot brand sold everywhere?

Thursday September 20 2018

To me, nothing says Abroad quite like a poster, somewhere in Abroad, advertising an English speaking movie, whose English title I already know, with a foreign title that is different, but with all the same star names:

image

La Taupe means The Mole.  I preferred the TV series, but I love this poster.  Photoed by me in Paris in February 2012.

As was this, on the same expedition:

image

In the same directory, I encountered other photos of posters advertising the following movies: Drive (Ryan Gosling), Ghost Rider (Nicolas Cage), Underworld (Kate Beckingsale), and Star Wars Episode 1 (whoever).  But in those posters, the titles stayed in their original English.  Why?

Sunday July 22 2018

When I recently went to France, there was a rail strike on.  I even took a picture of the strike, in the form of an electronic sign at St Pancras full of train cancellations:

image

But, what happened to this strike?  Is it still going on?  Or has it finished?  If it has finished, who won?

I am none the wiser about the answers to these questions, but while seeking such answers, I came across this photo, of French trains, taken by someone looking down upon their roofs:

image

Not much roof clutter to be seen there.  (See below.  This is now a preoccupation of mine.) Does the clutter on top of these trains not even exist?  Or, is it merely covered up?  (More research is needed.)

Saturday July 21 2018

6k has Flickred a wonderful little collection of photos he took on a recent expedition to France (he blogs about these here), of which this was one of my favourites:

image

I particular like the extreme middle of this photo, which I have taken the liberty of cropping out and lightly sharpening:

image

I love roof clutter.  So it’s no surprise that I also love rail clutter.  And France, so excellent at roof clutter, also does rail clutter exceptionally well.

Rail clutter embodies the exact same aesthetic contrast that roof clutter points to.  One part of what you are looking at is obsessed over, aesthetically.  The facade of a building is minutely contrived to look the way it should look.  And then on top of it, you can just shove up anything you like, to let out smoke, receive and send signals and generally do stuff on the roof.  Well, rail clutter is a lot like that.  The trains (especially the trains in France (and especially the high speed trains in France)) are aesthetically magnificent, or at least are intended to be are are considered to be by their creators (and I happen to agree with them).  Yet all around them is rail clutter, to feed the power into the trains, and this clutter is built in a totally functional manner, to do that job, no matter what kind of a jungle of mess that results in.

Let’s see what the photo-archive tells me about how this obsession played out on my own most recent expedition to France.

Here are two rail clutter photos, both featuring one of those beautiful trains, and both taken at Quimper railway station:

imageimageimage

On the left, you can pretend that the rail clutter isn’t there, if you really want to.  But on the right, the photo is photoed in such a way that you really can’t do that.  Look at that clutter!  I lined it all up with itself, just like 6k did in his rail clutter photo.

Here are a couple more photos of Quimper, taken from the footbridge over the main railway line off to the west of the city, right near where my hosts live, and in particular of the twin towers of Quimper Cathedral.  These two photos point to that same rail clutter aesthetic contrast by shoving it next to a cathedral, instead of next to a train.  But it’s the same point.  The cathedral has been obsessed about aesthetically for centuries.  The rail clutter just looks how it looks and to hell with that.

imageimageimage

But for me, perhaps most interesting of all, here are a couple of photos which point to a closely related phenomenon, which is the matter of clutter actually on the top of the trains.  That’s right.  Trains also, themselves, have roof clutter on their roofs:

imageimageimage

I remember noticing this phenomenon, pretty much for the first time (as in really noticing it), when I took this little clutch of photos.  From that same footbridge in Quimper.

I have the feeling that British trains are not so roof cluttered.  Memo to self: look into that.  But that can wait.  There’s been more than enough cluttertalk for this posting.

Monday June 04 2018

imageI find signs to be an endless source of fun and revelation, and I frequently photo them.  So I was much entertained by this New York Times story, about a sign that went wandering.  Across the Atlantic Ocean.

Hurricane Sandy grabbed this sign from the town of Brielle, on the eastern coast of the USA, in October 2012.  But, on or around May 14th 2018:

A man walking along the Plage du Pin Sec, near Bordeaux, spotted it. The faded sign was missing a chunk, but he could still read the legend “Diane Turton Realtors 732-292-1400.”

“It was curious,” the man, Hannes Frank, 64, a semiretired software consultant who lives in Brussels, said by phone on Thursday. “I looked at it and found it quaint.”

And he got in touch with the enterprise advertised on the sign.  By their nature, signs can be very informative.

The NYT says that its preferred expert on flotsametrics reckons that, given how long this sign took to make its way to France, it may well have crossed the Atlantic not once, but three times.

Flotsametrics is the study of things that float.  Now that the Lefties – like the Lefties who own, run and write for the NYT - are giving up on the claim that capitalism is ruining the planet by ruining the weather, they are back to bitching about how capitalism squirts out lots of rubbish, and they have become particular obsessed with rubbish that hangs about in the sea, especially if it floats.  So this story is actually part of The Narrative, even though it is presumably also a genuine and a genuinely good story.

Once the capitalists work out how to transform all the world’s rubbish into – oh, I don’t know – something like gunk for 3D printers to turn into replacement body parts, the lefties will have to think of some other insult to throw at capitalism.  But for now, this rubbish thing is getting back to being their biggest complaint.  Again.

But just clearing the rubbish up is no good.  Oh no.  The rubbish must be stopped at source by stamping out capitalism, starting with plastic drinking straws.  The actual source of this oceanic rubbish is mostly rivers in poor countries.  But that’s a mere fact.  The Narrative is what matters.

This has been a spontaneous rant, which is why I am keeping it here, rather than switching it to there.

Saturday June 02 2018

Indeed:

image

Usual story.  Started to write a piece for here.  Realised it would go better there.  Carried on writing it anyway.  So, here?  That.

Friday May 25 2018

Those photos of Oscar would appear to have made quite a difference to Oscar’s life, because he went missing last Monday, and three of these photos helped to find him and get him home again:

image

GodDaughter2 will be telling me more about all this soon.  Like: Were there any other recent photos of Oscar that would have worked the same trick?  I don’t want to jump to conclusions, as people say when they do want to jump to conclusions, but maybe without my photos, Oscar would have ended up having a totally different life.

The heart of the operation was the much grumbled-about social media.  The above poster was concocted in London by a friend of GD2’s, and then socially media-ed all over the local area in France.  Facebook, take a bow.  In addition to being an actual friend of mine, GD2 is a Facebook “friend”, but I hadn’t been paying attention to her Oscar postings, until she phoned and then emailed me about all this excitement:

About 300 people shared various posts I posted on Facebook to find Oscar. He left Monday, I started looking for him last night and we got him today!

GD2 made all this happen while in London, that email having arrived was yesterday, last night being Wednesday evening.  It seems that Oscar, having got lost, was then cared for by another family.  But when, thanks to the above social media activity, they got in touch and Oscar got back to his original carers, GD2’s family, he apparently spent many hours sleeping, which is not the routine I recall when I was there.  This tells to me that he was very stressed while away, and was relieved to be home.  With home needing no sneer quotes, the way it might with some cats.

6k has also been impressed by these Oscar photos, this one in particular …:

image

…, and he has been making that the basis of various would-be internet memes, of which this one is the latest:

image

Reuniting lost loved-ones is a classic excuse for the Total Surveillance World we now live in.

And actually (see above (sometimes)) quite a good excuse.  If I, or someone, had not been surveilling Oscar, he might still be lost.

I also remember how, in the past, GD2’s parents would grumble about how much time she would spend social-media-ing, instead of doing “real” things, like sleep or homework.  But finding Oscar was very real.

Thursday May 24 2018

In Quimper, the city in Brittany which I recently visited on account of having friends who live there, I photoed this:

image

My camera’s ability to notice details that I didn’t notice at the time …

image

… immediately enabled me to learn who did it, and what else he has done.

I love the internet.

Monday May 21 2018

I spent most of the time I had available today for blogging working on a piece about Dominic Frisby, in connection with this.  I want to sleep on it rather than shove it up tonight, but it should be up at Samizdata tomorrow.

So here is a quota movie poster, on the side of a bus, which I photoed in Paris, when I was there recently:

image

I don’t love movies as much as I used to, but I still love movie posters.  And I especially love them when they are advertising an Anglo-movie to non-Anglos.

Friday May 18 2018

My friends in Brittany have a new cat: Oscar.  (He replaces this cat.)

I, of course, took many photos.  I like these ones:

imageimageimageimageimage
imageimageimageimageimage
imageimageimageimageimage

And I like this one best of all:

image

Oscar has reached the stage in life where he is still a kitten in his behaviour, but not any longer in his appearance.  Sort of a cat teenager.

Oscar has a very short attention span, and is currently programmed to check out everything he sees, like some obsessively exploratory robot.  He sees a lot and he keeps on seeing something else.

So, for instance, you click your fingers at him to initiate some sociability, and he sees that, and runs towards you, but then, while still on his way towards you, he sees something else behind you, and carries right on towards that, after only the most perfunctory acknowledgement of your fingers, in which he has already lost interest several tenths of a second earlier.  Or he has simply forgotten why he is is motion, and he just carries on.  Very strange.

But as he calms down, he will presumably start to treat people more in the way they like to be treated.  When I took an afternoon nap, he also fancied a nap and had his on top of me.  But, had there been a more satisfactory household appliance, like a warm fire, he might well have preferred that to curl up next to that.  It didn’t seem personal, just a matter of comfort.

But I still liked him.  Cats are just so likeable, whether they are actually being likeable, in their own minds, or not.  All they have to be is non-objectionable and not too scared to check you out.

Wednesday May 16 2018

I was rootling around in the archives for something interesting, and this time I really went back, to the time of my very first digital camera.  And in among lots of photos of my friends and GodDaughters all looking eighteen years younger, I found this photo, taken while on a trip around the Wheel, of the Guy’s Hospital Tower, looking just as brutally (because Brutalist) ugly then as it does now:

image

That’s right, no Shard.

But more to the point, it shows what a Big Thing that building in the middle there used to be.

And I’ve said it here before.  This was London’s Montparnasse Tower.  What Paris concluded from the Montparnasse Tower was: never again.  But what London concluded from the Guy’s Hospital Tower was: we need to build lots of bigger towers, so that this one won’t be any part of the definition of London.  And in particular, we need to put a really big Big Thing, right next to this big old thing.

So, in the photo: Guy’s Hospital, and no Shard.

And: without Guy’s Hospital, also no Shard.

Monday May 14 2018

Having spent a week appreciating the Frenchness of France, I now find myself especially noticing the Englishness of England:

imageimageimage
imageimageimage

1.1 (cricket in Vincent Square) and 1.2 (Prince Albert outside his Hall) were taken yesterday afternoon.  2.1 (Westminster Abbey plus Big Ben smothered in scaffolding (plus a tiny bit of Wheel)) was taken yesterday evening.  2.2 (a Handley Page Victor recently acquired by a friend) was taken earlier this evening.

Sunday May 13 2018

One of the things about travel in foreign parts is that you regularly see things which you just do not understand.

And for me, when I was in Paris on May 5th, this photo, hastily snatched while crossing a road, definitely falls into the I Do Not Understand This category:

image

The buildings reflected in the window behind me introduce a note of sanity into an otherwise incomprehensible scene.  Why the upside down chickens?  And what has this to do with fortieth birthdays?

Shop windows are an endless source of photo-amusement for me.  I can enjoy it for ever, but without paying a thing or taking up any of my scarce home-space!

Busy day today, so that will have to do.