Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
Esteban on David Pierce on what it's like using an electric scooter
Brian Micklethwait on Zooming in on the workers
Rob Fisher on Zooming in on the workers
Brian Micklethwait on David Pierce on what it's like using an electric scooter
Rob Fisher on Zooming in on the workers
Rob Fisher on Big Things on Boris Bikes
Rob Fisher on David Pierce on what it's like using an electric scooter
Prudy on Skyscraper covered in Gothic sculpture proposed for Manhattan
Brian Micklethwait on Big Things on Boris Bikes
Javier on Big Things on Boris Bikes
Most recent entries
- A busy day and a collection of Big Things
- A still life and a cat cushion in Kentish Town
- A Japanese torpedo bomber that could use some zoom
- A good time of the year
- 148 to Burgess Park
- A Big Thing and a Much Bigger Thing – on a not-black cab
- Another way to photo my meetings
- Quota Pavlova
- The first Brian’s Friday of the year tomorrow evening
- Walkie Talkie looking not that huge
- David Pierce on what it’s like using an electric scooter
- Shard behind the Tower of London (reprise)
- Big Things on Boris Bikes
- Two bits for Samizdata and a weird bridge in Poole
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
Gates of Vienna
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
My Other Stuff
Nation of Shopkeepers
Never Trust a Hippy
Non Diet Weight Loss
Nurses for Reform blog
Obnoxio The Clown
On an Overgrown Path
One Man & His Blog
Owlthoughts of a peripatetic pedant
Oxford Libertarian Society /blog
Patri's Peripatetic Peregrinations
Police Inspector Blog
Private Sector Development blog
Remember I'm the Bloody Architect
Setting The World To Rights
SimonHewittJones.com The Violin Blog
Sky Watching My World
Social Affairs Unit
Squander Two Blog
Stuff White People Like
Stumbling and Mumbling
Technology Liberation Front
The Adam Smith Institute Blog
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 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 Fly Bottle
The Freeway to Serfdom
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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 Wedding Photography Blog
The Welfare State We're In
UK Commentators - Laban Tall's Blog
UK Libertarian Party
Violins and Starships
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
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Dark Roasted Blend
Digital Photography Review
Ghana Centre for Democratic Reform
Global Warming and the Climate
History According to Bob
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Institute of Economic Affairs
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The Christopher Hitchens Web
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This and that
Tidying up, with me, doesn’t happen because it’s that time of the month or the week or the year, or because the place just generally needs tidying up. It happens because I am looking for some particular thing. It is there, under the chaotic topsoil. But where? Let the archaeology begin.
Rather than just scatter the topsoil up into the air randomly, which even I know will massively increase the chaos, I instead find myself sorting the topsoil out, into crude categories of different topsoils. By topsoil, I mean basically: paper. Somewhere under all the paper is that particular piece of paper, or clutch of paper, that I seek. Twice in the last fortnight I’ve had a day like this. The earlier tidying frenzy was to find the book of words for an electrical gadget, which was duly found. Today’s frenzy was to find an ancient financial document, which if found will yield money. Today as before, many other lost and forgotten objects of value also surfaced. Today has been more complicated, and must continue tomorrow. The financial document has yet to materialise.
I managed to chuck out quite a bit of topsoil. Well, not yet, but the chuckable out topsoil is already in quite a big pile of its own. But to make room for that, I had to take out previously accumulated piles of topsoil, to make way for the new topsoil that would then have to go also. And to take out the old topsoil I needed bags, bags which had been doing other stuff, and had never been unloaded. So that had to be done too. And so the task elaborated, before I do this, I will have to do this, and in order to do that, I will first have to do this. And so on. But progress was made.
When you are on the permanent lookout for health and safety signs, you see them everywhere. And this afternoon, in the Kings Road, I spotted this one, and promptly crossed Kings Road to get close to it.
At first I thought most of the fun would come from the long spiel in the middle:
But, as (helped by the title of this posting) you have perhaps already spotted, there is more fun stuff going on here. There is a spelling mistake. “COSTRUCTION”. Even as I type this, my spellchecker is going spare. And it surely is a spelling mistake, rather than some peculiar, perhaps Italianate, new business bullshit type name, because down at the bottom of the sign, we see that the email of lamberticonstruction is, well, that, rather than lamberticostruction.
And when I got home, I saw that the same spelling error - if error it be - was repeated on the sign next to the original sign that got my attention:
What does this mean? Assuming these are spelling mistakes, and assuming further that I am not reading too much into this, I think what this signifies is that what is going on here is not communication but compliance. The law demands signs like this all over the damn place. Who the hell cares if the damn signs are spelt right? This is not to communicate, with the workforce, the public, or with anyone. It is simply a matter of obeying the damn law. And since it is very easy to see if this particular law is being obeyed - are there signs or are there not? - this is a law that has to be obeyed. For the Authorities, this is great. Not like chasing after real criminals, who fight back and hide and stuff. So, you order the damn signs and when they arrive you stick them up, as ordered. If some of the spelling comes back wrong from the damn sign-writer, who cares? I mean, you might demand your money back. But do you need another sign? Are you going to give these bastards yet more money to make their damn signs, that you don’t want but have to have? Are you hell? Who cares about any damn spelling mistake?
Only me, is my guess. And not because I object. I care because I’m pleased about it all, because it spices up my blog.
I think there is an argument about how spelt is spelt, which is my preferred spelling. Some argue that spelled is spelled spelled, but not me. However, I am open to correction on this. About five years ago I lost faith in my own spelling excellence. I used to think all my spelling preferences were correct. Since then, I have realised that my spelling preferences are that and in many cases only that, preferences.
LATER: Natalie Solent comments:
The Italian for “to construct” is “costruire” and “construction” is “costruzione”. Mr Lamberti wrote the signs himself and isn’t going to change them for anyone.
All is suddenly, if not clear exactly, then explained. I did do some googling before I did this posting, and found no references to “costruction”, which is surely a strange hybrid word, is it not? Or is it actually quite common when Italians operate in the Anglosphere?
Against Bangalore in Chennai, during the last four overs of their innings in the IPL Final, Chennai go from 177-1 to 205-5:
2 . . . 1 2 | 6 1 . 1lb 2 6 | W W . 1wd 6 1 2 | 1 . . W W 6
During the exact same time period, also in four overs, in the their first innings in the First Test against Sri Lanka in Cardiff, England go from 168-2 to 172-2:
. . 1 . . . | . . 1 . . . | . . . . . . | . . 1 1b . .
Go Cook. Go Trott.
Generic ITV4 Telly Sport Announcer (Matt Smith?), talking about the IPL Final: “We all know what has to happen for this to be a match.”
Oh dear. Gayle gone. Match over? Probably. Bangalore now 16-2. It’s all happening in Chennai, but pretty soon it will stop happening and just dribble away into an inevitable Chennai win. (That’s how Twenty20 can be dull.)
England now 185-2. Two more days to go in Cardiff after this one, and it’ll probably be a draw, what with all the rain there has been. (That’s how test cricket can be dull.)
I have for ages been intending a blog posting about the relevance of all this to Climategate, etc.
Many now fret that “science” is being corrupted. Others fret that because “science” is being wrongly accused of having been corrupted, it will lose lots of its funding. Either way, disaster.
But you only fret like this if you misunderstand what science is. If you think it is a public good that has to be publicly funded, then, when publicly funded science does what publicly funded anything always does eventually and turns to shit, there goes all of science down the toilet.
But the publicly funded bit of science is not all of science. The best bits of science - rooted in technology, profit, etc., like Keeley says - can shrug off the travails of publicly funded science like they never happened. Rather as real genetics shrugged off Lysenkoism.
Not a bad start.
As I also commented at Croziervision, my brother got me some remaindered copies of this, and anyone in London who wants a copy can have one for free. I have about eight now and can get more.
Yes, time for a link dump, of things I have cluttering up my screen but which I don’t want to just delete and totally forget about.
John Buchanan, on the left here, looks nothing like Christopher Martin-Jenkins, but he does look a lot like Jean-Claude Van Damme.
Fannie Mae Eases Credit To Aid Mortgage Lending. New York Times, September 30th, 1999. Steven A. Holmes is entitled to say: I told you so.
Since it’s Friday: Project Acoustic Kitty: how the CIA failed at using cats as spies. After many confusions, caused by the cat not doing as it was told (and who could possibly have seen that coming?):
The first mission took place in a park near the Soviet embassy, where the cat was tasked with eavesdropping on two men. A CIA reconnaissance van across the street released the operative, who took a few steps towards her foes and was immediately run over by a taxi.
And finally, just when you think you’ve seen and heard everything, Hugh Laurie sings the blues.
Like I said (see immediately below), a good photo-trip yields many treasures. From the purely artistic impression point of view, one of my favourite snaps that I took last Sunday was this:
That’s the underneath of our final railway bridge before we got to where Old Oak Lane crosses the canal, and we went north along it to the station, and home.
Things I like about it:
No graffiti. They would have if they could have, because there is graffiti everywhere else in the near vicinity, including all over that same bridge, except on that wall.
I used my good camera, the Panasonic G1. Cumbersome normally, but good if the day is dedicated to photography and nothing else. Lots of brick detail, and lots of near-evening shadows.
Even the best cameras have a problem with lots of sky on a bright day, either turning the sky white or the stuff below it black. But here the bridge blots out almost all the whiteness, apart from a tiny bit top right.
And even that little bit is nice, because look at the contrast between how even the brightly lit bank looks for real, and how the sky looks - bright blue - when reflected in the water. One of the nicest light effects is when the sky is bright white, but is also reflected in something like water or windows, and it suddenly turns blue and fills up with clouds.
Finally, it’s not quite your usual pretty photo. There were gasholders nearby as well, and the photos of them came out predictably well too. But everyone knows about the photographic joys of gasholders.
A successful photo-expedition yields about a dozen potential blog postings. Here is another, derived from the excellent canalside walk I went on last Sunday with Goddaughter One, already mentioned here.
Our itinerary was basically Camden to Willesden, but we took a quite big detour to visit Paddington Basin. We turned left, in other words, at Little Venice, before going back up to Little Venice and on west.
A particular bonus of the Paddington detour was that I finally got to see the famous Thomas Heatherwick rolling bridge, in the flesh. Not actually rolling, you understand, but one does like to see these things close up.
However, as Goddaughter One warned me before we got there, although this is a most delightful thing, it is a bit of an indulgence. It enables you to avoid a tiny detour, rather than get anywhere that you otherwise could not get to.
Here is one of my photos of it:
But click on that, and you see the truer picture. Okay, that doesn’t prove it, because there might be more water to the bottom left or the bottom right. But add this unlovely photo to the mix …
… and you get the full picture. It’s a tiny little inlet, not a canal or anything, and I also wonder how much actual water traffic ever goes under it. How often, that is to say, do they have to roll it up?
Not that I’m complaining. I think it is a wondrous object.
First, the current BrianMicklethwaitDotCom endorsee for American President, Gary Johnson, being interviewed by PJTV, which you can view here.
Johnson is older, thinner, duller, better dressed, more evasive, more “political” than I expected him to be, based on this. In short, not what I expect a Gary to be. I guess American Garies are not like our Garies. Plus, he is a real politician, having been a real governor of a real state. But then, I don’t expect a Gary to be a real politician.
He goes on about drugs being a medical condition, rather than a choice about how to have fun which is what I think it is, a choice which may have consequences, but not criminal-law consequences unless (under the influence of drugs) you commit an actual crime, besides the non-crime of using drugs I mean. Talking about drugs as a healthcare problem legitimises all kinds of interventions and general bossing around. But still, whatever his spiel, he wants to move things in the right direction.
Does Gary J have any chance? This guy says he is better than Ron Paul.
Next up, a wondrously biased attack on the idea of internet neutrality, from someone called Crowder, viewable here.
Finally, rocket scientist Jeff Greason, expressing optimism about space exploration, despite and because of having become totally disillusioned with NASA.
About a fortnight ago, I was so impressed by this that I started writing down what Greason was saying, with a view to quoting it on Samizdata. But I never wanted to stop quoting, and gave up when something else intervened and I never got back to it. Does anyone know if the words of this performance have already been written down, to save me the bother of doing it?
Photoed by me last Sunday, beside the Grand Union Canal.
The photo I took just before that one looked like this:
And the one just after, like this:
I know, I obviously take a lot of photos, and most of them are very ordinary. I photograph signposts to tell me where I was at any particular time, and other snaps just aren’t very distinguished. The marginal cost of digital photography is zero. All of which is true, but none of which is my point here. My point is: look at the graffiti. Even the sign that the guy who lost his keys stuck his little sign on is covered in graffiti. This is not the kind of area where you would expect anyone to be ringing up a stranger to return his keys.
I and Goddaughter One saw a lot of graffiti last Sunday. For me, thinking about our expedition now, this was the one depressing thing about an otherwise perfect day.
Incoming from 6000:
Spotted this while out for an autumnal walk with the family in Constantia, Cape Town and instantly, as is the way with these things, thought of you.
The three languages are English (obviously), Afrikaans and isiXhosa - the local “African” language.
To get around any linguistic issues, they have used the ubiquitous blue circles. Except that neither I, nor Google Goggles has any idea what that one on the top left means. I’m sure it’s obvious, but it’s not to me.
Incidentally, the guy in the background is an equally ubiquitous car guard, who will check that no-one breaks into your car while you’re away for some small change.
By happy coincidence, I too have spotted a couple of multilingual signs in London recently, and was going to blog about them anyway
I saw this near Brick Lane in the East End:
The place already felt very different from my own dear Millbank. That did not make me feel any safer.
And I saw this on the outside of the psychiatric hospital or drop-in centre or whatever it is, on the Vauxhall Bridge Road side of Vincent Square:
I make that sixteen different languages.
Is it the patients or the staff who are responsible for all this linguistic diversity? Or do they just put that sign up in all such places, regardless of who speaks what in any particular one?
Other incoming multilingual signs would be most welcome, but if they do materialise please make them signs you have personally snapped, not just something plucked from the internet, which is of course already awash with such signs.
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.
Incoming email from and about Beachcombing’s Bizarre History Blog, which “tries to apply serious academic standards to the bizarre in history”, speculating that I might like it. I do.
I have waited until today before linking to this blog, on account of the fact that Beachcombing has a thing about cats.
Under that cat-egory (ha!) you will find a posting that began as an account of alleged dastardly behaviour by Johannes Brahms towards cats, and mutated into a posting about Richard Wagner’s dastardly invention of the original story. Brahms did not torture and murder cats for sport. Wagner, who had musical differences with Brahms, and who was an utter shit, made the story up.
I love the music of Brahms. Wagner also wrote excellent music (I think), especially (I also think) if you can screen out the often horribly ugly singing which is so often attached to that music, and he was a vicious anti-semite. But falsely accusing someone of cat-slaughter really takes the biscuit.
Until 1989, Rick Perry was a conservative Democrat. He switched parties as, like many Democrats including Ronald Reagan and Phil Gramm, he saw that party moving farther and farther to the left. Under Perry’s decade as governor, hundreds of Texas Democrats have followed his lead and become Republicans. As a former Democrat, Perry can speak to that swath of his former party that has become disenchanted with their party as President Obama has taken it even farther to the left, in a way that few Republicans can. He can also speak well and credibly to all wings of the national GOP, from the fiscal cons to the social cons to the libertarian set.
I particularly like it that he has previously been a member of the other camp. This will, like Bryan Preston says, make him very good at communicating to potential swing voters in the other camp.
This sounds good too:
The Republican faithful are currently disenchanted with the entire crop of candidates. None of the current crop seem to be able to take on President Obama and force him to defend his record. Rick Perry has been running against Obama for two years, and has established himself as one the president’s most forceful critics.
For now I’ll stick with my original pick for President, Gary Johnson, because Gary Johnson is (unless he has already jacked it in and I didn’t notice) actually officially running for President, while this Rick Perry character is still at the will-he-won’t-he stage.
I had been fearing that the Republicans would field a snatch-defeat-from-the-jaws-of-victory candidate, both ideologically disastrous (i.e. not a guy I’m even totally sure I even want to beat Obama) and politically disastrous (i.e. he might not beat Obama). But now I am starting to Hope that things may, come election time, Change.
So, what’s been happening with the Johnson campaign lately? Well, it’s not been boring:
Willie Nelson, who formed the Teapot Party, is now backing Republican presidential candidate Gary Johnson, who is a longtime advocate of legalizing marijuana. For posterity, in 2008, Nelson gave his support to Ohio Democrat Dennis Kucinich.
As libertarian propaganda this is great. As winning politics, it may not be quite so perfect.
Kellogg’s Just Right is my favourite breakfast cereal bar none (not my favourite cereal bar, my favourite cereal than which I prefer no other), and I was actually quite pleased to learn that they have revamped it a bit, adding more fruit. I have recently found Just Right hard to find, so to speak, and I had started to fear that they were giving up with it. Clearly they are still serious about this excellent concoction.
Nevertheless, Squander Two has a definite point:
You can’t call it that and then change the recipe.
I guess the title was an aspiration, an impossible dream. Actually getting to Nirvana was maybe going to take time, and so it has proved. Besides which, a very good principle to follow with all actually or only potentially mass produced creations is: try to get it right first time. If it is not right, do again, soon, until you think you really do have it right. Repeat until it really is right. Then, when you have finally got On A Roll, stay on it.
Anyway, I’m going to try to get some Just Right with MORE FRUIT today. If I succeed, I will let you all know if I think it really is, now, finally, Just Right, or still only asymptoting towards perfection. Or worse, if it has actually got further away from perfection. The horror.
In one of my favourite recently discovered spots in London, on the south side of the River beyond the Thames Barrier, is a truly strange modern footbridge, done in the structure-as-decoration style so characteristic of our time. The location of this bridge is at the north end, the end that stops at the river, of Antelope Road, London SE18, and then a few yards to the west.
Here it is from the west:
And here is the photo I took, looking back east, from on top of this bridge, very similar to this photo (which was of course taken the same evening), but from up some steps:
And here is the bridge, seen from the other side:
No, I don’t know what happened to the pink sky. Sorry.
The strange thing about this bridge is why it exists, as in: I don’t know why it exists. The barrier it goes over is a brick wall. Why did They not just knock a hole in the wall, add some steps on the eastern side of the gap to deal with the slight height difference, and leave it at that?
Yesterday I walked over to Parliament to be part of the Rally Against Debt. I went because I feared it would be tiny, and because I hoped it might be huge.
In the event it was neither. The turnout was in the low hundreds, rather than the mere dozens I had feared or the thousands that I had, thinking about it now, hoped for. Photo it all close up and you could make it look quite big. Step back fifty yards, and it was cut down to its true size.
I’ll probably be doing a Samizdata posting about it along these lines, Real Soon Now. In the meantime, what with signs being a current preoccupation here, here are some of the signs as I managed to photo.
These big clutches of photos probably don’t work that well, judging by the comments, but I think this clutch may be different, because each little square gets the message across. You don’t have to click at all, to get the point, in fact you can get forty points without doing anything except running your eyes over it all.
I was impressed by how many hand-done signs there were.
Should I have been?
Are these signs merely of amateurism, and as such do they mean little?
Or do hand-done signs signify depth of feeling? And do they therefore count for more than the mass produced sort of signs, which by the way were also present in large numbers.
The one about the Che T-shirts was off message, as were several other signs that I spotted but did not include here. I include the Che sign because I really like it.
Bloggers, borrow at will. No need to mention me. The message is the thing, and anyway, it was the sign-makers who did the real work.
Many other photographers were also present.
Remember the Curse of Gordon, which Guido used to go on about. Anything Gordon Brown had himself photoed in front of, or praised, or wished luck to, or ceremonially opened, or in any way associated himself with in a positive manner would immediately plummet towards ruin. He would wish luck to sportsmen, and they would have an immediate form slump. He would open a factory, praising its produce, and six months later it would ignominiously close.
Well, now, if Have I Got News For You? is anything to go by, the Scot Nats, following their recent electoral successes, are plotting to have a referendum on Scottish independence, and Gordon Brown will be leading the opposition to this proposition.
Gordon Brown is poised to lead the fight to stop Scotland breaking away from England after allies of Ed Miliband urged him to head a campaign against Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond.
Buoyed by a runaway victory in the Scottish Parliament elections, Scottish Nationalist leader Mr Salmond plans a referendum on whether Scotland should declare independence from the UK.
Senior Labour sources said the former Labour Prime Minister is the ideal man to take on fellow Scot and long-standing political opponent Mr Salmond.
So, farewell then, Scotland …
By the way, Guido has just contributed a little micro-performance to HIGN4U, about avoiding injunctions by not paying hookers to stick dildos up your bum. What a genius. Tomorrow I hope to witness his address to the massed (or not as the case may be) ranks of the Rally Against Debt.
Here is another view of the Dome and of the Docklands Towers, although not of the Thames Barrier, which is way off to the left of the view you see here:
However, the reason I show you this picture is because of what it shows in its foreground, namely the particular sort of barrier between the promenade I’m photo-ing from, and the water. There is railing, but there is also wire.
And this wire has given rise to a particular sort of sign that is much in evidence in that particular place, namely this sign:
Isn’t that depressing? They can’t threaten that thieves will be apprehended and punished, because everyone, let along thieves, knows that this isn’t true. The only threat they have is the threat that stealing this particular wire, easily done with a hacksaw or some such implement, will not make you any money, so don’t bother.
Personally, I don’t even try:
Those are three of my favourite Things, the Thames Barrier, the Docklands Towers, and the Dome, snapped at a favourite time of day, the time when the day is ending.
See if you can spot the Shard.
LATER: As Professor Jim Al-K ends his telly show, he too is now showing us pictures of the Docklands Towers, in the dark.
All documentaries about the physical sciences made in Britain contain irrelevant views of London, and its Big Things. It’s the rule.
Further rootling through the photo-archives got me to this rather intriguing photo:
Here’s what the sign says:
So, it’s a “sandstone engine block”, whatever that is exactly. Engine for what? This is near the old Woolwich Arsenal, so presumably it is something to do with that.
On the face of it, this sign spells things out quite clearly. “We will not accept any responsibility”, as in: “You fall over and hurt yourself, we won’t pay you a penny.” Fair enough.
Maybe, however, this merely a case of a sign where they really, really don’t want anyone climbing on the Thing in question, and were just looking for words that would sound scary enough. Their concern, in other words, may not be litigation and money. It may be a sincere desire to protect their Thing.
Just as, in this case, there appeared to be a sincere design to stop people going swimming.
Photoed this afternoon, in Artillery Row, which is just off Victoria Street, which is near where I live:
I like how the idea of doing red, white and blue mutated into orange, grey and blue. I like the extreme plainness of how the message is printed. And scaffolding is always good.
I also like the crane shadow.
So I was rootling through my photos looking for something entirely different to what you see here, and saw what you see here. A very small picture of a wall, with some pipes. What the hell was I thinking?
To find out, click on the small picture to get the big picture.
There are some interesting titbits in this piece about the IPL cricket tournament, and about how well it is doing as a TV show.
“A sense of meaning has been absent,” Desai said. “It has become repetitive. Sports must produce some sort of meaning finally. Otherwise it is just leather hitting wood.”
But even he agrees advertisers don’t have to worry yet, saying “there is still good reason for [the IPL] to exist” and that it simply needs to transition from being a spectacle into a tournament that reflects “what every team represents and stands for”.
Indeed. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thoroughly enjoying what I am seeing of this tournament. But, what I am enjoying - and will remember for a while - is the achievements of individuals, rather than the distinctiveness of and collective success of teams. I do remember great things that have been done by Malinga, Valthaty, Sehwag, Gayle and Ishant Sharma. But if asked which teams those guys play for, I’d have to pause and think about it.
It doesn’t help the way players move around from one year to the next, according to who gets them in an auction. This is the problem with salary caps, and in general with a tournament that is that little bit too centrally controlled, and controlled to contrive equality of outcome. It makes for more evenly matched teams, but there isn’t the romance of “organic” teams, emerging from the wider society of whatever society it is. A similar complaint applies to American football, I think. In general, I am not fond of the word “franchise” in sport.
In this respect the IPL is not a patch on that other Premier League. Yes, in “the” Premier League, there are usually only about half a dozen teams each year with a serious chance of winning, or even of doing well enough to play in Europe the following season. But teams do rise and fall. Unlimited money is not enough to guarantee success.
It must say something that the Olympic Games, the World Cup (as in the soccer World Cup) and the English Premier League, three of the most successful televised sports tournaments on the planet, all have this huge inequality between the best teams and the rest of the teams built into them. Yet people still care about their little country getting their one amazing Silver Medal, or their recently promoted team avoiding relegation the following season with a last gasp win against a mid-table team, or their little country snatching a draw again Germany and scraping, against all odds, into the last sixteen before being thumped by Brazil. Personally, I detest the Olympics and don’t get that excited about soccer or any sort. But I know sporting super-success when I see it. The IPL needs to keep working on its formula.
In defence of the IPL, those other biggies have been going for decades, while the IPL isn’t yet half a decade old. Given time, it too will become “organic”.
Hello, rain stopped play. That’s not supposed to happen in India. An earlier match was totally washed out, on a day when the weather here in London was fabulous.
LATER (Sunday afternoon):
That’s a picture of the Gayle effect. 40 off 3 overs.
Yes, a quota photo of another pub, this time a pub dwarfed by modernity:
That’s a pub the other side of Victoria Street from me, snapped by me in July of 2009. As you may observe, it is in Petty France, so if you want to google, that makes it easy.
Behind it, dwarfing it, is the old Home Office, which looks like an Eastern European embassy, circa 1970.
Yesterday I visited Englefield Green, where my home was for my first twenty years of my life. Whenever I go back there, I still think of myself as going “home”. But our house there will soon - possible very soon - be sold and demolished. When I now return to Englefield Green, I am starting to see it with the eyes of the outsider that I will soon definitely be.
It was with my outsider’s eyes that I first looked, really looked, at one of the pubs in Englefield Green:
What a very unfashionable name that is.
I’m guessing the flags are there because of the wedding. The Holly Tree, just up the road, also has flags out, presumably for the same reason. Is there any significance to the fact that the flags outside the Holly Tree are Union Jacks, i.e a celebration of Britishness, while those outside the Armstrong Gun are specifically English?
Recently I filled in the Census, after I had been politely but firmly reminded of my legal obligation to do this by a man who rang my buzzer. (I had been intending to ignore it, but an actual fight with a real life public official is not something I relish.) And I realised, after I had posted it, that I had described myself as English, rather than British.
Which are not really docks any more, but which used to be.
My last decade or more of living in London has seen me get to know my way around London far better. Digital photography did this, of course. I don’t like hanging about in the open air studying views, but I quite like doing this at home, with views I have photoed. An an America, whom I overheard on the Acropolis about forty years ago said to his family: “Come on, come on, we’ll look at it when we get home!” They wanted to hang about, but he wanted to leave. I was then scornful. Now I understand perfectly.
The picture on my computer, when it is doing nothing, is now this:
Click to get that much bigger.
The greenness of that is because it was taken through the green-tinted glass at the top of one of the Docklands Towers, and we’re looking east. The Dome is the Dome, obviously. The little blobs in the river, top right, are the Thames Barrier.
At the time (July 7th 2006), I presumably thought I was photo-ing the Dome. But recently I have been exploring the area beyond the dome, with the rectangular bits of water (to be technical: docks), in the bit the other side of the river, beyond.
In other words, this bit:
Or, to put it another way, this bit (click here to find the relevant bit of google maps):
But you only learn so much from maps like that, which are basically for motorists rather than walkers. Are the bits around the watery rectangles pedestrian friendly, or pedestrian hostile? What are the views like across them? The only way I know to find out things like that is to go there. So, that, with whatever going-there time I’ve been having lately, is what I have been doing.
So far, apart from this, only one other blog posting has resulted from my various expeditions to this locality. Other postings may (although I promise nothing) follow, now that I have once again remembered that the trick with blogging is to say one thing at a time.
Of the one on the left, Antoine tells me that “be relax” (click to see this) is Frenglish for “be cool”. But as you can see, the other sign forbids, by day and by night. So, being cool is forbidden, all the time. Someone tell the French.
The one on the right was snapped in Fes Medina, Morocco, the day before yesterday by Michael J, who says Danger de Mort sounds better than Danger of Death. Both sound pretty scary to me. Again, click to see the bigger picture.
Messieurs, je vous remercie.
You think you can send me funnier or more interesting signs? You know what to do.