Brian Micklethwait's Blog

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


Recent Comments

Monthly Archives

Most recent entries


Advanced Search

Other Blogs I write for

Brian Micklethwait's Education Blog

CNE Competition
CNE Intellectual Property
Transport Blog


2 Blowhards
6000 Miles from Civilisation
A Decent Muesli
Adventures in Capitalism
Alan Little
Albion's Seedling
Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise
Alex Singleton
Another Food Blog
Antoine Clarke
Antoine Clarke's Election Watch
Armed and Dangerous
Art Of The State Blog
Biased BBC
Bishop Hill
Bloggers Blog
Blognor Regis
Blowing Smoke
Boatang & Demetriou
Boing Boing
Boris Johnson
Brazen Careerist
Bryan Appleyard
Burning Our Money
Cafe Hayek
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
Dave Barry
Davids Medienkritik
David Thompson
Deleted by tomorrow
diamond geezer
Dizzy Thinks
Don't Hold Your Breath
Douglas Carswell Blog
Dr Robert Lefever
Dr. Weevil
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
Fugitive Ink
Future Perfect
Gaping Void
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
Idiot Toys
India Uncut
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
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
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
Never Trust a Hippy
NO2ID NewsBlog
Non Diet Weight Loss
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
Picking Losers
Pigeon Blog
Police Inspector Blog
Power Line
Private Sector Development blog
Publius Pundit
Rachel Lucas
Remember I'm the Bloody Architect
Rob's Blog
Setting The World To Rights
Shane Greer
Shanghaiist 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
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
Tim Blair
Tim Harford
Tim Worstall
Transterrestrial Musings
UK Commentators - Laban Tall's Blog
UK Libertarian Party
Unqualified Offerings
Violins and Starships
Virginia Postrel
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


Mainstream Media

The Sun
This is London


RSS 1.0
RSS 2.0


Billion Monkeys
Bits from books
Bloggers and blogging
Brian Micklethwait podcasts
Career counselling
Cats and kittens
Civil liberties
Classical music
Computer graphics
Current events
Digital photographers
Emmanuel Todd
Expression Engine
Food and drink
Getting old
How the mind works
Intellectual property
Kevin Dowd
Latin America
Media and journalism
Middle East and Islam
My blog ruins
My photographs
Open Source
Other creatures
Pop music
Quote unquote
Roof clutter
Science fiction
Signs and notices
Social Media
South America
The internet
The Micklethwait Clock
This and that
This blog

Thursday May 31 2012

For much of yesterday, the world economy teetered on the edge of chaos, on account of this blog being out of action.  In the USA, people from all walks of life complained that, without this blog, sneering at Brits and celebrating the defeat of Britain in the revolutionary war of 1776 or whenever became too difficult, without this blog as an explanation for their otherwise incoherent resentment.

Australians wanting to find out who won the Ashes in 2011 had to look elsewhere for news.

And all over Europe, policy makers, seeking light relief from their self-imposed task of ensuring that the EU goes out with a huge bang rather than with an orderly and rational recognition of what ought really to be done, looked to BrianMicklethwaitDotCom for solace.  But it was not there.

How can we be expected to lead the European economy over a cliff in the proper manner, exclaimed Big European Cheeses, if we can’t divert ourselves every now and again with pictures of London bridges, and of new London towers, like the big spiky one and the one with the three holes in the top?  After a hard hour fretting about Spaniards who are about to riot and then die of starvation unless we print some more money and give it to ourselves, we need to be able to contemplate roof clutter, stuff about something called “Samizdata”, and photos of London tourists taking photos, another Big European Cheese added. 

Fortunately, BMDC came back on line yesterday afternoon, and the happiness of the world and the orderly progress of Europe towards self-inflicted ruin was reestablished in the nick of time.

Tuesday May 29 2012

One of the best things about making the territory right near where you live, in my case London, the principle object of your photographic devotion, is that if you find some particular place that you especially like, you can go back there and have another go at it.

So, for instance, having found my way to the top of One New Change on May 5th, I went back there on May 22nd.  And the pick of the new crop of photos I took from there was definitely this one:


That this building does reflection so well just adds to that invisible-to-radar vibe.

Sunday May 27 2012

In the forecourt of the Channel 4 headquarters in Horseferry Road is a big 4, which gets variably decorated from time to time.  This is the latest variant, photoed by me this afternoon:


That must be a guy in a wheel chair, there to flag up the Paralympics coverage on C4.

And yes indeed, perfect summer weather.

Saturday May 26 2012

imageOne of the many pleasures of photography for me is that for several years now, my cameras have had better eyesight than me, especially the latest one.

So, for instance, I saw some weird looking flyswapper thingies on the top of the MI6 Building, sparkling away in the sunshine at the outer limit of my field of effective vision, when on my way to Vauxhall Station the other night. I supposed them to be some kind of magical telecommunicational devices.  I photoed them, only to discover just now, perusing the snaps of them at home, the much more prosaic reality.


I gave the word “Railings” a separate paragraph there, and this explanation of that another seperate paragraph, on account of the text before these changes being insufficient to accommodate the picture.

There is something a bit ostentatiously irrational about the structure of these railings, however.  They are just asking to be bent out of shape.  So, an easy rather than a silly mistake to have made.

Friday May 25 2012
Thursday May 24 2012

I couldn’t decide which of these two recent snaps I like better, so here are both of them:


The one on the left was taken first.  The sky is lighter, later, because I mostly use automatic, and that big lump of darkness at the bottom of the right hand picture lightened the sky above it, so to speak.

They were taken on Tuesday evening, just before it got dark, from Southwark Bridge, looking over Cannon Street station, which sticks out over the river.

Last night we had a Transport Blog dinner, dinners every now and again being all that is now left of Transport Blog.

As I told the guys last night, if we did still have Transport Blog, then this would have gone up there, rather than here:


Forget about train privatisation.  What the world needs is giant motorised shopping trolleys.

I found this by going from here to here to here.

Wednesday May 23 2012

If you are a regular partaker here, you may be starting to suspect that I am back to my one a day or maybe ever more but not less rule.  Something, however threadbare, every day.

I too have begun to suspect this.  But, I promise nothing.

With his latest Samizdata posting title, Perry de Havilland puts his finger on a real problem with blogs that have been around since the year Dot.  The feeling that you’ve said it all before:

I may have said this before but ...

Because, you have.

Say it anyway mate.  One of the major rules to follow to be an effective propagandist is that you must be willing to repeat yourself.  Say it again.  And again, and again and again.  And again.

This guy is one of the most effective propagandists on the planet just now.  Central to his success is his willingness to say, again, something he said only minutes earlier, and again, and ...

Tuesday May 22 2012
Monday May 21 2012


“This is a guy who literally is walking around in a dark room trying to find the light switch of leadership.”

Ouch, says Instapundit.  Indeed.  But what Instapundit means is that this denunciation of President Obama by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie really hits home.  I don’t think the pain he feels is caused by that “literally”.

Literally used to mean: this is not a metaphor.  Now literally means: I am really serious about this metaphor and I really want you to listen.

Saturday May 19 2012

Much as I have enjoyed digging out and showing to you various London photos of mine that don’t feature any Big Things, the fact remains that my favourite of all my recent photos is of precisely one of these Big Things, seen through some trees:


This was taken on March 20th of this year.

It’s Strata of course.  That being a posting with a couple of other favourite photos I took.

As I said there:

One of the symptoms of a great London Big Thing is that you can recognise it at once in a photo, even if it is very blurred, ...


April in London was a horrible month, weatherwise, and I did hardly any wandering about and photo-ing.  May has mostly been pretty awful too, but there have been breaks in the weather badness, and things seem finally to be brightened up, so the Misc May file already contains some fun stuff.

Most of the following, like most of the earlier Misc March snaps, were taken in Southwark, between Waterloo, Southwark tube and the the river:


Click for the bigger pictures.

Note in particular that really, really ugly building, top right, which is in central London, right next to the river (to the north).  How people can moan about Things like the Shard in a city that contains that, well … you get the picture.  I hope to return to that monstrous lump, take more photos, and say more about it, although I promise nothing.

I also like to oriental god, bottom right, in a building supplies back yard.  What it is doing there I have no idea.

Friday May 18 2012

Some of the photos I take are of big and photogenic Things.  But like many, many photographers, I also like to take photos of insignificant things, unconsidered trifles, weirdnesses and oddities.  Most such snaps tend to get filed in directories the titles of which include “Misc”, as in: Misc for miscellaneous.

Here are a few such snaps I took in March of this year.


Click on a square to get the big picture.

As you can see, I like roof clutter, and roofs generally.

The thing about buildings is that when it comes to their facades, huge efforts are made to make them look just so.  But on the roof, it seems you can do pretty much what you like.  You can have a roof garden.  You can have a clump of radio transmitters and radio receivers, for phones and suchlike.  You can have stupid wind turbines.  In former times, you could put whatever twiddly diddly spikes and spires you liked.  Roofs are the aesthetic wild west, a visual anarchy.

Tuesday May 15 2012

I’ve got a photo-essay up at Samizdata about One New Change, which maybe should have had a more compelling and informative title than “One New Change”.  Something like: “The roof of One New Change and what you can see from it”.

When on my way to One New Change, walking there from Lower Marsh (i.e. from this shop), I took many other photos, including the ones that follow of bridges.  The sky was especially photogenic that day, which was about one week ago.  The weather then was generally horrible, but that afternoon seemed like a break in it, and so it proved.

First, a favourite London footbridge (one of many favourite London footbridges), the one that helps to take travellers from Waterloo railway station to Waterloo East railway station:


I love the adhoc-ness of it.  I bet when they first put that up, they didn’t think it would still be there however many decades it is later.

Next, one of London’s great out-in-the-open dramas, namely those mysterious columns that used to support an earlier version of Blackfriars railway bridge, and have been there ever since, just standing there, doing nothing but look mysterious.  The drama being: what will happen to them?  Obviously something.  But what?  When?  ( Will I live to see it?)

There is now much activity on and next to these columns, because, as already noted here, they are rebuilding Blackfriars railway station on the revised and still busy version of Blackfriars railway bridge, all the way across, with entrances on both sides of the river:


But, are they only using the columns to help them build stuff on the old bridge?  Will anything permanent be placed on the columns?  Little walkways across to Blackfriars road bridge?  A couple of little shopping places?  Or will they just be left there, again.  Like I say, they ought to make something of these things.  It’s the kind of thing that architects and designers happen, just now, to be doing really well.  So, do it, I say.

Next, how the new Blackfriars railway station is looking, with me looking back into the afternoon sun, which makes it all seem rather foreboding and funereal:


The big metal thing in the foreground is because this was taken from the Millennium Footbridge, the one that joins Tate Modern to St Paul’s.

Finally, from the same spot but looking the other way, down river, which totally cheers up the lighting because now the afternoon sun is behind me, a
classic Shard shot, complete with a couple more classic London bridges, Southwark, and in the distance, Tower:


Between Southwark Bridge and Tower Bridge, there is another London bridge, namely London Bridge.  But you can’t see much of that.

As I say at the end of my Samizdata piece, I think the Shard now looks great.  I think it is the best London Big Thing of the last few years, edging both the Gherkin and the Wheel into also rans.  I also think it may be the best thing that Renzo Piano has ever done, judging by what I have seen of his other stuff.

By the way, I would have liked rather more than just the one somewhat-beside-the-point comment that it has attracted so far, on that Samizdata piece about One New Change.  Vain and selfish and silly I know, but there you go.  So if anyone reading this cares to oblige with something pertinent, there, I would be most obliged.

Monday May 07 2012

Incoming, from Nicholas I. Kierniesky, to the Samizdata team:

image  image  image

Says Perry de Havilland:

Excellent :-)


Talking of Jobs, Michael J recommended this, about the good one of the three.  I still haven’t read it, but have been carrying the print-out with me on my travels.  I will read it, Real Soon Now.

As for all the irreverences now circulating about Obama, well, like it says, it’s the economy.

If Romney wins, will he also be a one term President?  Worse, far worse, if that happens, would Samizdataism, so to speak, get the blame?

Sunday May 06 2012

As I think I’ve said here before, I often don’t know which of my photos I like best until I have completely forgotten taking them, and then find them again, months later.

This didn’t seem anything very unusual at the time.  But now I find I like it quite a lot:


That’s the new entrance to Blackfriars railway station, done in the now familiar structure-as-decoration style.  I like all those shadows.

During the depths of Modern Architecture, concrete monstrosity style circa 1965, they often didn’t bother with big front doors on the front of buildings, that you could tell was the front door I mean..  Now they really like them, and spend money on them like they’re building a stately home.

I took that photo on the same day as these.

I’m trying to write a big old piece about how hard cricket is to organise these days.

Meanwhile this evening at the IPL, this just happened, to Dale Steyn!!!:

6 2 4 6 4 1

The batsman doing this was AB de Villiers, which explains it.

An earlier over by Steyn was a maiden.  Against Chris Gayle.  Maiden overs are rare in the IPL.

Now Simon Hughes is calling AB de Villiers a genius.  Like he says, Steyn is now the best bowler in the world.  What’s more, AB kept the bowling for the final over, thus making sure his team won.

The second 6 in that Steyn over was particularly amazing.  It was a yorker on middle and leg that would have splattered most batsmen’s stumps.  AB smoked it over extra cover into row … about Z.  Shot of the tournament for me, that I’ve seen.  Steyn just smiled.

In the previous game West Indian Dwayne Smith, playing in his first ever IPL game, had to hit 14 off the last 3 balls to win it.  He did exactly that.  6 4 4.  Off Hilfenhaus, who is also no mug at bowling.  The first three balls of that last over had gone dot wicket dot.

Best day of the IPL yet.

It’s been a while since I’ve featured a viaduct here.  Time to correct that:


It’s Glenfinnan Viaduct.  The picture of it above, taken by Jason Hawkes, is one of these.

More aerial photos by Hawkes here.

Saturday May 05 2012

Lightning induced Schumann Resonance may help divine exoplanets.

Presumably these exoplanets are inhabited by gods.

Or perhaps by very rich socialite ladies.  “My exoplanet is simply divine, my dears.”

I know, silly.  Divine means identify.  But I laughed.

Wednesday May 02 2012

Two interesting early comments (two of many that follow) on this posting, which vividly (i.e. with lots of vivid photos) describes an idiotic Occupy occupation (with thanks to David Thompson for the link).


Given that the University of California, which owns this now-”Occupied” farm tract, is largely responsible for teaching the “Occupiers” the idiot theories under which they’ve undertaken this action, isn’t this really an instance of the chickens coming home to roost?


The vast majority of the “Occupy the Farm” buffoons are not Cal students; it’s mostly composed of losers who didn’t get into Cal, so in jealousy and frustration, they’re stealing the research equipment of the students who actually did well in school.

UC Berkeley is actually two completely distinct universities; the “liberal arts” half is thorough and irretrievably contaminated with Marxist ideologies; but the “STEM” half (“science, technology, engineering, math”) is very rigorous, hardcore, not politicized (and mostly Asian).

The College of Natural Resources, which does research at the farm, is mostly in the STEM half of the school (though there is a politicized component). Notice that the professors who joined the occupiers are all from the Anthropology and Gender Studies departments, not from Natural Resources.

So, this may not be a clear-cut case of chickens and their roosting behavior.

That “mostly Asian” bit makes me very pessimistic about the future of the West.

For how long will the best Asians feel they have to go West to get the best sort of education?  Will they keep coming, and after their rigorous Western educations, will they stay in the West?  Or, at a pivotal point in the nearish future, will they take their rigour back to Asia and plant it there, leaving what remains of Western education at the mercy of the “humanities”?

Tuesday May 01 2012


And I just bumped into a video of American actress and entertainer Victoria Jackson singing a song called exactly that.

What’s so cunning is it starts off like she’s sending up all the unthinkably dimwitted people who are so unthinkingly dimwitted as to believe such an unthinkably dimwitted thing.

And then the evidence starts piling up.  Good grief.  Victoria Jackson actually means it.  And she has a case.

Also, she’s so quiet, and gentle, and apologetic about it.  She is not strident.  She is just very, very surprised about it.  And surprised that so many others can’t seem to see it.