Brian Micklethwait's Blog

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

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Category archive: Transport

Wednesday July 11 2018

I was asleep when England got their first goal.  My urban locality erupted with honking and shouting.  I looked at my bedside clock, and it was just after 7pm, when the game was due to begin.  Sure enough, when I cranked up the telly: CRO 0-1 ENG.  (You don’t need any links.  You surely know what I’m talking about.)

I recall this phenomenon happening before, this time right at the end of a game of this kind.  It was 0-0 at the very end of extra time, and about to be a shoot-out.  Against Belgium, I think it was.  And then someone called Platt, I think it was, scored a goal for England, when I was in my toilet.  The noises that I heard from my neighbours could only mean an England goal.  So it was with Trippier’s early goal this evening.

I am and remain a preemptive pessimist about England’s chances in this tournament, because this will soften the blow when the blow does fall, as fall it surely must.  An early goal, such as England have just scored, is often a mistake, because it gets the opposition stirred up.  It makes them forget any nerves they feel and really play, because they have to really play.  The early goal-scorers on the other hand, are tempted to defend too much and let the other fellows into then game.  And then when the other fellows equalise, they are the ones with the momentum.  Sure enough, as half time nears, England are getting sloppy and Croatia now have a chance.  Well, it’s now half time, but I still back Croatia to win this.

Now, they’re saying that England had lots of chances and should be further ahead.  Indeed.  So when Croatia do equalise, England will be very depressed, and will lose.

Roy Keane, a fellow pre-emptive pessimist by the sound of it: “England got a bit sloppy.”

Oh, the torture of hope.

And the further torture of feeling like a idiot, for taking such events far, far more seriously than anyone should.

In particular, I feel the difference between someone like me, who refuses to get his hopes up, and “real” fans, who do get their hopes up.  I “contribute” nothing to the success of any team I support, as in: like to see winning but don’t get hysterical about.  Yet in truth, the hysterics contribute very little more than I do.  Just the occasional encouraging bellow.  But if England never do get eliminated from this World Cup (I shun the w word) I feel that I will not have deserved it, but that the hysterics and the bellowers will have deserved it.  If you suffer, you deserve to succeed.  If you shun suffering, you do not.  Even if the suffering accomplishes nothing.

LATER:

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A cleverly chosen name, wouldn’t you say?

For “first” at the start of this, read: early.  And only.

Monday July 09 2018

Last Saturday, in the afternoon, while the rest of England was obsessing over Sweden v England, I was taking the train from Victoria around the south of central London to South Bermondsey, to see an actual man about, a metaphorical dog.  My train stopped off at Denmark Hill on its way to Bermondsey, and there I took another of those inside-a-train photos, with yellow tank tracks on it caused by the lighting in the train:

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That looks like some sort of helicopter landing and taking off pad, of the sort that they have on top of hospitals.

If this was the twentieth century, it would have remained a mystery, to me, for ever, unless I happened upon someone who knew what this was and I happened to ask him.  But it is the twenty first century, and just now, I googled “Denmark Hill helicopter pad”.  And in no time at all, I learned that this was a helicopter landing and taking off pad on top of a hospital.

To say that I unreservedly love the twenty first century would be to overstate matters.  But it does have its features, in among all its various bugs.

So much for the certainties of this situation, as revealed by the internet, one of the better features of this century so far.

Now for some guesses.

Why the ramp, leading from the pad, to the hospital?

Why not a lift, into which bodies can simply be wheeled, in about ten seconds?

My guess is that nothing is allowed to protrude above the surface of the pad, in case helicopters are blown into it by a gust of wind, or in case they miscalculate in some other way.  No protrusions.  Not even for seriously injured bodies, perhaps close to death.

So, the ramp.  And for the first few scary yards of it, there are no fences to stop you or the body trolley you are pushing being blown off, just a horizontal bit of wire netting to catch it and prevent the very worse, just like the similar horizontal bits that surround the pad itself.  So, take care.  But, as you descend the ramp, a fence slowly rises up around you that will impede any ill-judge horizontal meandering you may blunder or be blown into doing, without in any way impeding the helicopters.  And, as soon as you have got down below the pad, you go under it, into a lift.  And you are in the hospital and can breath easy, even if the body you have brought with you may be breathing very difficult.

It’s my belief that if you look at my photo, you will see, if not all, then at least most, of the above.

I recall reading, once upon a time, that digital photoing is a substitute for really looking closely at stuff.  We photo things instead of really looking at things and really seeing things, said whoever it was who was grumbling.  My experience has been the opposite.  For me, digital photoing has meant spending so much time looking at and seeing things that the problem has been finding the time time to be doing anything else.

Sunday June 17 2018

Reflected in a boring building.  WIth cars next to it.

Well I like it:

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Busy day.

I took it in the vicinity of the Walthamstow “wetlands” (i.e. reservoirs), last November.

Friday June 01 2018

I kid you not:

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West Japan Railway Co. said Friday it will begin operating a Hello Kitty-themed shinkansen on June 30.

The interior and seats of the 500-series shinkansen, to be used for daily round trips between Shin-Osaka Station in Osaka Prefecture and Hakata in Fukuoka Prefecture, will feature Sanrio Co.’s Hello Kitty character, the railway operator said.

The special train, to be decorated with pink ribbons like the character, will be used to promote local attractions and specialty goods, and passengers will have the chance to pose for photos with a big Hello Kitty doll.

I can’t shake the feeling that I’ve been had by Japan’s answer to the Daily Mash, or that all this was first announced on April 1st.  Nevertheless, it does seem to be a real thing.

Tuesday May 29 2018

The photos here were taken in nicer weather, by a much better photoer than me.

But my photo is better, because my photo has … cranes:

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I have visited this place several times in the last few days, each time in the evening, each time attempting to buy a certain CD at nearby Foyles.  Twice I was frustrated.  First, because I misidentified the closing time of Foyles, on some obsolete website I think it must have been.  Then, I forgot that yesterday was a bank holiday.  Finally, today, I got my CD, and several other cheaper ones from their second-hand collection.

And, this evening, I finally got the photo I wanted of this tube exit, and its cranes.  The key to it was: I had my camera ready to go when I stepped onto the escalator.  And then when I wasn’t sure I had what I wanted, I went back down again, and up again.  The trick was, taking the photo from near the bottom of the escalator, so that both cranes were included.

In addition to being willing sometimes to look like a perve, a photoer must also be willing sometimes to look like a prat.

Wednesday May 23 2018

So I went to Foyle’s this evening, to buy this but got there too late, and then went food shopping in order to confer meaningfulness on an otherwise meaningless expedition.  So then I was tired, but managed to write a posting for here, but then it turned into a Samizdata posting, which I will post tomorrow, or maybe not, because I always sleep on Samizdata postings nowadays, because that always makes them better, or not.  So now it’s tomorrow morning and I have nothing for here, so here is a photo I took through the new entrance to Tottenham Court Road tube station:

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I like that time of the evening, or the early morning come to that, when natural light and artificial light are in some balance.

Centre Point has had a total makeover and been turned into posh flats.  But, it looks exactly as it always did.

Tuesday May 15 2018

Today was a perfect day for a day out on a big photo-expedition, but for some reason to do with getting older, I didn’t feel up to it.  It’s too early to be sure, but I sense that a phase of my life, a phase that consisted of, among other things, exploring and photoing London, may just have come to an end.

So, instead of showing you photos I took today, here are some from an ancient I Just Like Them! Directory:

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Taken in 2008 in Trafalgar Sqaure (1.1), in 2012 underneath that rather pointless ski lift thing out east (1.2), in 2014 while those swanky student accommodations were under construction at the far end of Westminster Bridge from Parliament (2.1), and at the top end of Horseferry Road looking at the top of a random building at the top end of Rochester Row (2.2) also in 2014, when all the tree leaves had been shaken off.

Friday May 11 2018

When you go by train to Quimper from London, you start by going by Eurostar to the Gare du Nord in Paris.  And when you step outside the main entrance of the Gare du Nord, you find yourself next to a big red bear with wings.

Although I noticed this big red bear with wings when I first got to Paris, I only photoed it on the way back, a week later, when I and GodDaughter 2’s Mum were in less of a hurry between trains and when the weather was much better.

Also, on the way back, we didn’t suddenly see the big red bear with wings.  We could see it as we approached the Gare du Nord, and I had my camera ready to go, as it had been all afternoon:

imageimageimageimageimage
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I quite like this big red bear with wings, but I am less sure about whether I admire it.  It seems like a mixture of too many unrelated things.  The lots-of-holes style of sculpting, which I associate with 3D printing, is one thing.  Making a bear look like a bear is something else.  And then, there are those wings.  On a bear.  Wings with holes in them.  The idea of the wings is that they turn the bear into an angel bear.  Something to do with global warming and the melting icecaps, I read somewhere and then lost track of.  The artist, Richard Texier, is not big on logic.  He prefers to stimulate the imagination.  To evoke magic.

The big red bear is called, see above, “Angel Bear”, and it has an inescapable air of kitsch abou it, to my eye.  Like something you’d buy, smaller but still quite big, in a posh gift shop, for far too much money.  I prefer a bull that Texier has also done, in the same 3D printed style.  No wings.  Much better, to my eye.  Cleaner, as a concept.

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But still a bit gift shoppy, I think.  Which is another way of saying that I bet these big old animals are by far his most popular works.  I suspect that Texier may be a bit irritated by this.  He likes being popular and he likes these big animals.  But he also likes his more abstract less gift shoppy stuff, and wishes the populace liked them more too.  Things like this:

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I found both of those images at the Richard Texier website, at this page.

Despite my reservations about the big red bear with wings and my preference for other Texier works, I can, when I look at his big red bear with wings, feel Paris trying.  Trying to become that little bit less of the big old antique such as, compared to London, it now is.  I mean, you can’t miss the big red bear with wings.  Personally, I don’t find it to be wholly successful.  But it is holey.

Tuesday April 24 2018

I’d never heard of it, until, yesterday, at a bus stop near near Finsbury Park tube station, I observed, and photoed, this:

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This advert didn’t impress me.  I actually laughed.  The Pauline Quirke Academy.  Give over.  You’re ‘avin’ a laugh.  I did anyway.

Later, I saw the same advert in the tube:

image

This did impress me.

I think it was that the back of a bus is a tacky advertising spot, used by tacky enterprises that you have never heard of and will never hear of again.  Ergo, the PQA must be tacky and will soon disappear.  The tube is not such a tacky spot to advertise.  Ergo, the PQA is not so tacky after all.

I wish the PQA every success.  PQA website.

Pauline Quirke is best known to me for doing this.  And to most others, if the internet is anything to go by.

Might someone else who saw both adverts have been more impressed by the bus advert than by the tube advert?

Monday April 23 2018

I love this:

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Not because of the flowers.  Because of the airplane.  Well, the flowers and the airplane.

It was taken by the same lady as did that outstanding selfie, that I reposted here on Saturday.

I didn’t find the above photo by looking for more photos by her on purpose.  It just turned up on my twitter feed and I liked it, before I even know who did it.

If cropped like that, well cropped.  If taken like that, then even better taken.

Monday April 16 2018

Twitter is causing ever more interesting things to pile up on my computer screen, and slow everything down.  (I know, “bookmarks”.  Hate them.) So, here is a blog posting consisting of such links.  Which I can come back to and follow through on but probably never will, but possibly just might.

Eyebrows - we all have them, but what are they actually for?

The Kremlin has a Reckless Self-Image Problem.

Via 6k, how to take bizarre photos by stuffing wire wool into a egg whisk, setting the wire wool on fire, and swinging all that around on a rope.  Do not try this at home, unless you want to burn down your home.

Next, a Twitter posting about cactus patterns:

So frustrating! My cactus patterns are going viral on FB, but the person who posted the photo of them a) didn’t credit me and b) deletes any comments I write responding to people asking for the patterns.

But what if she made that up? As a ruse to get the world to pay attention to her cactus patterns?  Or, what if she hired, in good faith, some sleazy “internet marketer” who deliberately posted her photos on some faked-up Facebook site, minus any credit, told her about it, and then blocked her complaints?  The sleazy internet marketer then advised her to complain about this to all and sundry, knowing that all and sundry would sympathise.  She seems like an honest person, doing honest business, which is why I pass this on.  But a decade of internetting has made me cynical.

Next, a Spectator piece about someone called Scaramucci, who is writing a book about Trump.  The piece says more about Scaramucci than it does about Trump, but his book sounds like it will be quite good.  Scaramucci sounds like he has his head screwed on right, unlike a lot of the people who write Trump books.

Also in the Spectator, Toby Young realises that his wife is smarter than he is.  And she chose to stay at home and raise their kids because that’s what she wanted to do.  You can feel the tectonic plates of Western Civilisation shifting back towards stay-at-home mumhood, even as mere policy continues to discourage it.  Jordan Peterson, take a bow.  That man is already raising the birth rate in rich countries, by encouraging both fatherhood and motherhood.  The only question is: By how much?  Trivially, or significantly?  My bet, with the passing of a bit of time: significantly.

George Bernard Shaw tells it like it was and is about Islam.  I lost track of how I chanced upon that, but there it is.  These days, GBS would probably get a talking-to from the Thought Police, a talking-to which might well include the words: “We’re not the Thought Police”.  If the Thought Police were to have a go at her, they just might get an earful themselves.

Mike Fagan liked this photo of Mont Saint Michel with sheep in the foreground.  I can’t any longer find when he liked it, but he did.  Reminds me of this Millau Viaduct photo, also with sheep in the foreground.

Boaty McBoatface got turned into David bloody Attenborough, but Trainy McTrainface proudly rides the railway lines of Sweden.  As usual, You Had One Job supplied no link (so no link to them), but here’s the story.

Thank you Paul Marks for telling me about someone telling me about Napoleon’s greatest foe.  His name?  Smith.

The sun is now spotless, or it was on April 11th.

David Baddiel has doubts about the bloke who said “gas the Jews” rather a lot, to a dog.  As do I.  It should be legal, but don’t expect me to laugh.

Tim Worstall:

All of which leads to the correct Brexit stance to be taking. No deal. We’ll go to unilateral free trade and the rest of you can go boil your heads. We’ll give it a couple of decades and we’ll see who is richer, OK?

Quillette: The China Model Is Failing

The three temporarily separate Elizabeth lines.

Wisdom.

Anton Howes on Sustained Economic Growth.

John Arnold made a fortune at Enron.  He is now spending some of it on criticising bad science.

Human genes reveal history.  This book is number (about) twenty on my to-read list.

Philip Vander Elst on How Communism Survived Thanks to Capitalist Technology.

And finally, Bryan Caplan still thinks this is pretty good.

I now feel much better.  And more to the point, my computer seems a lot sprightlier than it was.  This has been the computerised equivalent of cleaning my room.  The job is not done, but I have taken a chunk bite out of it.

Thursday April 12 2018

At the time of the Scottish Independence referendum, I discovered in myself a great fondness for the Union Jack.  Not for its political symbolism.  I see the break-up of the UK as pretty much, in the longer run, inevitable, and probably desirable.  We’d be rid of Scotland’s stupid politics, and they have to live with all the consequences of their stupid politics and would shape up.  Win win.  No, I just like the Union Jack as a design.

One of the many things I like about the Union Jack is how you can change the colours, yet still keep it clearly recognisable, as an altered Union Jack, but still a Union Jack.I don’t know any other flag design that works so well that way.

So, for instance, this afternoon, on my way from meeting up with a friend, I was in Wilton Road (I think it was) and I encountered this Union Jack variation:

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Website.

Friday March 16 2018

I’m trying to wrench my sleep patterns back into something like sanity, and this now leaves me very tired.  Which is the plan working, but it makes blogging rather difficult.  So, today, one photo, and that’s your lot:

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Plus, although I’m tired, here is a detail, that emphasises the flamingo aspect:

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The relevant bit of the website.

Sunday February 18 2018

I am not well, so blogging here today will be perfunctory:

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See what I mean.  Photoed by me at Tottenham Court Road Tube Station, last Thursday.

Investigate this further, if you want to.

I’m off to an early bed.

Friday February 16 2018

I like it when cars are old enough to have round headlights, and I especially like it when they have not just two round headlights, but four round headlights:

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Photoed by me in Wilton Road, on my way to Victoria Station, earlier this month.  My camera does artificially lit darkness rather well, I think.  In reality, things were not nearly so clear, or not to me.

I know, I know.  Friday is the day here for cats and other creatures, not for antique cars.  But, this car looks American, and I would not be at all surprised to learn that it too is some kind of animal, like a Cougar or a Mustang or some such thing.  Anyone?

Some day soon, you’ll be able to feed a photo like this into Google and say: What kind of car is this?  Perhaps that day is already here.

But hey, how about this?!?  I’m definitely getting better at this internet searching malarkey.  On the bonnet of this car it says “R/T”.  So, I typed “r/t car” into Google, and straight away got to this:

R/T is the performance marker used on Dodge automobiles since the 1960s (much like Chevrolet Super Sport). R/T stands for Road/Track (no “and"). R/T models come with R/T badging, upgraded suspension, tires, brakes, and more powerful engines.

So, which Dodge would this one be?  (Scrolls down through all the pictures on offer.) It would be, unless my eyes deceive me, the 1971 Dodge Charger Super Bee.  A charger and a “super” bee.  So, two kinds of incompatible other creature.  There you go.  What did I just tell you?