Brian Micklethwait's Blog

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

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Monday September 30 2013

For some reason, descriptions of crazy economic times seem always, sooner or later, to involve toilet paper.  It was true in Russia.  It is true now in Venezuela.  And it was true in Zimbabwe:

image

That’s one of the pictures that Corrie (short for Coralee) Chipps showed to members of the End of the World Club, when she gave a talk to us about the Zimbabwe inflation earlier this evening, at the IEA.  Not exactly what you’d call entertaining, but most informative.  I hope to blog more about this.

Corrie Chipps is a graphic designer.  I especially like these designs.

Saturday September 28 2013

Yes indeed, the ultimate quota photo:

image

The thing is, when I do a quota photo posting, I don’t want to waste something important on it.  I don’t want to put up a photo of something that actually matters, that actually signifies, something that on a better blogging day, a day when blogging is not a tedious duty but is instead a pleasure, would cause a flood of really quite impressive verbiage to assemble itself in my brain, then tumble down onto the keyboard and into the wires and tubes of the www and thence to seep into your house and into your brain.  I want to stick up a photo which normally would stay put on my hard disc and would never show its face in public.

So, a chain link fence reflected in a puddle is what you are getting today, and a chain link fence reflected in a puddle is all you are getting today.

Thursday September 26 2013

Tomorrow evening I have another Brian’s Last Friday.  Richard Carey will speak about “The English Radicals: 1640-1660”.  Click on Contact (top left) to cadge an invite.

Until now, I have been slightly struggling to get good speakers soon enough for these evenings, but now I have at last got ahead of myself and have fixed, barring mishaps, the next three speakers also.

These are:

Oct 25 - Preston Byrne on Mortgage Subsidies: Why They Didn’t Work in America and Won’t Work Here.

Nov 29 - Dominique Lazanski on Digital Freedom in the UK and Europe.

Dec 27 - Antoine Clarke on Immigration and the Bad Arguments Against It.

Note in particular December 27, Antoine Clarke.  This might seem like the sort of date I might want to cancel, but actually, the more that a date might seem like cancellation fodder, the better this is, by not cancelling, an opportunity to tell people that there will be a Brian’s Last Friday, every last Friday, every month, no matter what.  Even if it’s just me talking to myself on Christmas Day, or some such strange thing.

I’m already starting to get emails from people who are just assuming there will be a meeting on Friday the whenever-it-is, and simply asking who will be speaking and can they come.  I want to encourage this sort of thinking.  You know the dates for years in advance, just as I do.

So, I am especially grateful to Antoine for agreeing to do that one in December.  I have no idea how many people will show up, but I have a feeling that the day after the day after Christmas Day might prove quite a draw.  Public transport will be back in business, unlike on the previous day, and … what else is there to do on that particular day?  Work?  Play with presents?  Go to other meetings?

Wednesday September 25 2013

There being there.

I think the fact that she likes finding quotes elsewhere is closely related to the fact that there are quotes to be found aplenty in her own stuff.  I’m not saying I agree with all these, although I do quite a lot.  It’s more the fact that something is said that lots of people, maybe including me and maybe not, are have surely thought, often without having ever having put it into words.  Then when it is put into words, you go: yes.

Here:

Personally, I have this fantasy that the Internet becomes conscious and she turns out to be a lot like me and starts putting people in time out.

Here:

And, yes, lately mostly what I have been doing is “sharing” stuff but I refuse to share anything that contains the words “share if” even if I agree with it.

And:

Generally people who have blogs are people who have something to say. Now I’m not bragging on myself here but on the many excellent blogs out there, some very popular, some unknown and ignored. They say blogs are out. Blogs are so last decade. But we’re still here cranking out words for our half-dozen loyal readers and we’ll still be here when Facebook is out and the next social media sensation is in because we have something to say. We may desperately wish someone was listening but the fact that they’re not will not stop us.

Here:

I have a wonderful husband. Ladies, I swear I am not making this up. My husband actually told me to buy new shoes.

Here:

So lyrics don’t really mean all that much to me anyway. I prefer music without any words at all. Or with words in a language I don’t understand. Especially Latin. It’s all about the music.

Here:

One’s opinions are not always consistent with one’s values. We all think they are and if someone points out the inconsistencies we will perform the most incredible logical and ideological gymnastics in order to avoid seeing these inconsistencies.

Here:

I hate when I have to sign something. My signature never looks the same twice so I’m always a little worried that someone is going to have a problem with it.

Here:

I feel sorry for people who are so afraid of being un-cool or unsophisticated that they can’t just enjoy beautiful things.

Here:

So today I have plenty of time for some good blogging. Um … well … I’m drawing a blank. Other than this nonsense that you just read I don’t have anything right now that I want to say. There might be a cat picture later.

I find I am very loyal to the earliest blogs I just happened to tune into, and this was one of the first.

Can someone explain why some items for sale on Amazon have hugely inflated prices attached to them?

Here, for example, is a CD of the Brahms Violin Concerto, played by Pinchas Zukerman.  Someone is asking £339 pounds for it, new.  I have this CD, and Zukerman plays the piece very well, I think.  But he does not play it £339 well.  So, what’s happening here?  This kind of thing seems to happen quite a lot.

Surely, nobody is ever going to pay £339.  Are they?  Maybe they are, in some stupid way, and that explains it.

Or is there some automatic increase going on here, and has someone forgotten about it, and just let the price climb and climb?

Comments explaining, or even just guessing the way I have, would be most welcome. 

Monday September 23 2013

Today I did something I very rarely do these days.  I bought a newspaper:

image

It was The Times of May 24th 1940.  Originally it cost 2d, which means two old pennies, from the days of pounds, shillings and pence, which I remember very well, because they lasted into the sixties.  Today, I bought it in the local gay charity shop in Churton Street, for £1.  There were quite a few more copies of The Times from that time still on sale there, most of them from late in 1939.  £1 each.  How long they will last, who can say?

Patrick Crozier, do you want me to get more copies for you, if they are still there?

Patrick Crozier’s talk at my place last month, based on The Times in 1913, was superb.  He turned the talk into six Samizdata postings, which you can find by going to the last one, and following the links back.  Highly recommended if you’ve not read them yet.

LATER: Twenty more copies.

Sunday September 22 2013

Indeed:

imageimage

Photoed by me yesterday.  On the left, the setting.  On the right, the owl.  It’s not a real owl.  It doesn’t look like Art, i.e. something put there Officially.  It’s too much like an actual owl to be Art.  More like something really expensive you buy in a shop, like the one with these animals that I photoed a while back, in Croydon.  The owl looks like it was put there by one of the station staff.

A little googling tells me that the owl is there to scare away pigeons.

So, they are Official, but they aren’t Art.

Friday September 20 2013

Stuart Broad is no pussy cat, certainly not if you are an Australian batsman.

But, he has got a kitten heel:

Less than a year ago, he left the tour of India with an injury that will likely affect him for the rest of his career. The one-time enforcer, England’s fast-bowling big cat had been diagnosed with a kitten heel - a lacerated fat pad for which little could be done beyond rest and careful management - and, as 2012 drew to a close, Broad knew he faced an uncertain future.

Which makes his recent Ashes contributions all the more admirable.

When Broad is having one of his hot bowling spells, he is outstanding.  And Broad reckons he bowls best when he is a bit riled up.

“I am one of these characters who seems to thrive off a little bit of niggle, a little bit of pressure,” he says.

Which means that Darren Lehman may have made a bit of a mistake, when he called Broad a cheat for not walking when Broad was clearly out and should have been given out, and said that Australian crowds should have a go at Broad in the Ashes series this winter in Australia.  Lehman was only joking, but it was a joke he may regret.

Do not rouse the kitten.

Thursday September 19 2013

Following along from the previous posting, more impressive looking sky:

image

Photoed last Monday evening, from the far end of Vauxall Bridge from me.

The thing like an upside down table is Battersea Power Station, which is about to be redeveloped.  Not obliterated and turned into something else entirely.  Just turned into something that looks the same but is of some use.

You can visit it as is this weekend. Then, not for a year or two.

Tuesday September 17 2013

In that earlier posting here about reflections in cars, I wrote about how the brain interprets, while a camera only sees.

I think this also explains a related phenomenon, which is that when I go out on one of my photo-expeditions, I often need time to appreciate which are the best photos I took.  When I look at all my photos from a day out as soon as I get home that evening, my memory of what I photoed is still, approximately speaking, fresh in my mind.  Which means that I cannot see the photos objectively.  I cannot separate the pictures I was trying to take from the pictures I actually took.

But later, as the memory of the trip fades, and all I have is the photos, and the memories those photos still manage to trigger, I am able to look at the photos as if I were looking at someone else’s photos.  And I can then see far more clearly which the best ones are.

So, for instance, on September 5th, I went on a pilgrimage to the Thurrock Thameside Nature Park, partly to see what the Thurrock Thameside Nature Park is, but mostly to try to check out the big cranes at the new London Gateway container port.  With luck I’d be able to see the cranes from the south end of the park, looking east north east downstream, and so it proved.  And, of course, I took a zillion photos,of the cranes and of everything else that caught my eye.

Of these photos, it is now clear to me that two of the best are the two below.

I took many photos of the cranes, of which this was the best, I now think.  And that despite me later having got somewhat nearer to them than I did when snapping this:

image

I think what I like about this photo is that the inevitable blurriness of the cranes, what with them being so far away and the zoom operating at its most zoomy, is offset by the not so blurry pylons nearer to us.  In almost all half decent photos, something in them is in sharp focus.  Not everything, just something.

And then later in the day, just when I thought all the excitement was over, I took a whole batch of photos like this, of the sky:

image

Of which that one is now my favourite.

I don’t think I’ve ever before managed to photo, quite as well as that, those lines of light that sometimes emanate from the sun when it is behind clouds.  The reason this worked so well on September 5th was that there were not only regular clouds, but also a general mistiness or cloudiness in the air, all of it, which picked up these lines and really emphasised them.  Not even I could fail to photo the results interestingly.

Earlier, that same general cloudiness and mistiness had made photoing the cranes rather harder, but all in all, I was very glad of it.

Monday September 16 2013

I like this, from The Pointman, one of my favourite commentators on the Great Climate Debate just now (very anti-CAGW):

That’s what I’ve come to think blogging is. Yes, you can muck around showing how slick or amusing you are but unless you’re genuinely trying to talk to one or two other human beings out there, who perhaps may only exist in your mind’s eye, you’re just adding a bit more volume to the background noise of the internet. You have to take the view that apart from them, nobody out there is listening, so you can talk freely and at your own pace.

To take that thought one step further, once you accept the very real possibility that you might well be talking into an empty void, you don’t really have to care from then on about how the viewpoint you’re expressing will be received and of course, how you choose to express it is your own business. It flows. You’re a free man.

I was tempted to put this on Samizdata, but I think it fits better here, don’t you?  Hello … Hello … Anyone there? … Oh well, just me then.  No worries.

Does this photo tell us the direction the Great Climate Debate is going?  I took it in Foyles, underneath the Royal Festival Hall, London, on September 2nd:

image

I put this up to entertain you, and also so that I can send a short email to Bishop Hill about it, rather than a long and annoying one. Because I’m guessing it might interest him.

The Bishop’s (as of now) latest posting concerns an article written by some academic CAGWers (CAGW = Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming), about how they can defeat their ever more annoying and persuasive “denier” enemies?

Bishop Hill:

The answer to this conundrum is - you will never believe it - to be found in the realms of communication. Although Garud and his colleagues note that some observers think that communication is not enough, and point to such initiatives as the Climate Science Rapid Response Team (seriously!) that are already in place, they suggest that something called a ‘narrative approach’ might also be a part of the solution.

But that, as the Bishop well knows but Garud et al do not, is no solution to the problem the CAGWers have.  The “narrative approach” is their problem.  What the CAGWers have been doing is spinning a narrative and calling it science for the last quarter of a century and more, and now this narrative is unravelling, thanks to the efforts of people like Bishop Hill.  This latest plan is for them to stop pretending that they aren’t doing this.  That can’t work.

If the anti-CAGWers had relied on books like Michael Crichton’s State of Fear, which is one of the books in the above photo, to carry the main weight of their arguments, they’d have been utterly crushed.

LATER: Bishop Hill has linked to this, and there are comments there too.

Sunday September 15 2013

When I first acquired a digital camera, I couldn’t get enough of bouncing brightly lit pictures off the shiny bodies of cars.  Now, I am back to not seeing such things, just as I didn’t see them before I had a digital camera.

I only noticed the reflections in the photos in this posting because, moments earlier, I had photographed a rather good car.  (I am assembling a large collection of photos of Interesting Vehicles in London.)

Here is the car, a Morgan:

image

And here is the next photo of that same Morgan, zooming in on the rather nice badge on its bonnet:

image

And that got me noticing the reflections of Westminster Abbey.  And that got me moving along to the next lot of cars, with bigger surfaces, to make more of such reflections:

image

The thing is, the human eye, inseparable as it is from the human brain, doesn’t really see things like that.  But cameras don’t have brains.  Not yet, anyway.  They see everything.  They don’t interpret.  They just shovel up whatever photons are thrown at them, and then spit them out in a rectangle.  And the result is that we, who ignore these reflections when walking about in the actual streets, now get to see them again.

I’m not saying that you have to like these reflections, although I happen to.

LATER: In the first edition of this, the title said “Cathedral” instead of “Abbey”, and the photos still contain the word Cathedral, because I can’t be bothered to retitled them and upload them again.  Apologies.

Friday September 13 2013

Here.

So, could this also work for cats?

Scroll scroll:

And for all the cat lovers out there, don’t accuse Polimeno of being biased toward pooches. Finding Kitty is in the works.

A lot of the cat stuff I stick up here on Fridays is things I find by googling for “cat” news.  But this I learned about by getting regular google emails that come to me about face recognition.

Face recognition software is, I predict (as do many others I’m sure), going to have all kinds of weird unintended consequences.  This is only the start of it.

For instance, scientists: Which animals have faces that face recognition software can distinguish between, and which not?  What does those answers mean?

What about face recognition errors, joining you up with relatives or long lost twins you never knew you had?

What will face recognition do to the lookalike trade?  “How much like Brad Pitt do I look?  Face recognition couldn’t tell the difference, that’s how much!”

Will face recognition answer the question: Which celebrity do I most look like?

Any more stuff like that that anyone can think of?

Incoming from Rob Fisher:

This is long, but Stallman is a very clear and precise speaker, so there is much understanding to be had here.

This being a YouTube performance from 2005, lasting 1 hour and 44 minutes.

Big hair.

Thursday September 12 2013

Yesterday was a grey and drizzly day, as was today come to that.

This didn’t look as good as it would have on a sunny day.:

image

That’s Barclays Bank, Kings Cross.  I can’t help thinking that all that razzamatazz reflects rather badly on Barclays Bank, Kings Cross, even though Barclays Bank, Kings Cross, is not itself razzamatazzed.

This, on the other hand, is just what you want on a grey and drizzly day:

image

However, although you may want it, so (I fear) will tramps, and tramps always win such contests, don’t they?  Whoever smells worse and looks scarier wins.  So, unless you are yourself a tramp, this will be a no go area for you, as for me.

Just for now, however, no tramps, and here is how it looks when I point my camera upwards:

image

Very seventies.  Very trashy.  But, it keeps the drizzle off.  I guess what’s happening here is that middle-aged architects, who were tiny tots in super-trendy seventies households with all the trappings of the time, are now powerful enough to be doing it again, in a vain attempt to recapture their lost youths.

This roof is between Westminster City Hall and that new office block with the crazy angled walls, in Victoria Street.

Wednesday September 11 2013

I am still looking for a suitable sofa.

This is the very unsatisfactory arrangement that I want to improve upon, a lot:

image

That’s just a mattress on a plank on some boxes.  The mattress keeps sliding forwards, and it requires continuous effort to remain seated on this mess.

I wrote at Samizdata, back in June, about wanting something better, not long after spotting, in a Pret a Manger, this:

image

That would be excellent.

So would this, which I spotted in my local dentist’s waiting room yesterday:

image

What both the above sofas have in common, aside from the detail of not collapsing when you sit on them, is that both are quite narrow, from front to back.  Most sofas these days, certainly of the domestic sort, seem to be monstrous in size (especially from front to back), partly because they just are, and partly because they often seem to insist on being beds as well.  I already have a sofa that turns itself into a bed, and the last damn thing I want is another of these contraptions.

I asked at the dentist where they got that sofa, but they just said what everyone always says, which is to google “office furniture”.  Easy.  The lady receptionist, like lots of other people I have asked about this, thought that it would be the work of a moment, by the above method, to locate such a sofa.

This has not been my experience.

So, if you think it is easy, or would be easy, to locate a narrow-front-to-back sofa, in London, which I can look at and measure with a tape measure and sit in before having them deliver it at an agreed time to my home, you go ahead and tell me where the hell I can find such a sofa.  If, thanks to you (and the photograph of the sofa that you email to me (see “Contact” above left) together with the address I need to go to to buy the thing), I find the sort of sofa I am looking for, I buy it, and it arrives without fuss in my home, I will pay you £50, in addition to what I paid for the sofa.

Prominent opinionators don’t need to alert the world to the fact that some opinion they said or wrote is being attended to, a bit more than the world might otherwise have assumed.  It’s rather like how heads of state don’t have to dress up in fancy uniforms with lots of medals attached to prove how important they are.  Everyone already knows.  Lesser persons, whose upward social motions either happen through their own continuing social climbing efforts or do not happen at all, cannot afford to be so tasteful and fastidious.

The Samizdata posting that the Quotulator quotulates from, which says that, in the Quotulator’s words, Obama is doing quite well at the things he cares about, was partly the result of something that my friend Alastair James said to me recently, to the effect that rather too many recent Samizdata postings consisted of someone saying something that everyone who reads and writes for or comments at Samizdata agrees with, and then lots of commenters saying: I agree.  I agree.

The purpose of this post is to get me blogging, and functioning generally, at a slightly earlier time in the morning than has been my habit of late. The establishment of new and better habits is all about starting by going through the proper motions, even if nothing else is achieved. Mission accomplished.

Monday September 09 2013

Yes, there’s an amazing post, with an abundance of amazing photos, at the amazing Dark Roasted Blend, entitled Huge Semi-Submersible Ships.  These ships are carrying loads so huge that most of the ships doing the carrying, while they’re doing it, are under water.

Why not?  It’s like these ships are half ships, and half submarines.  They never go completely under water.  The conning tower, so to speak, where the crew does its job, remains permanently above water.  But the rest of the ship is mostly under water, when doing its job, and utterly waterproofed against any waves that might go over the top of the tiny horizontal slice of ship that still remains above water.

Thus:

image

My favourite:

image

That’s the USS Cole, damaged, being brought home for mending.

I am having a big ship phase, brought on by reading that book about shipping containers.

Sunday September 08 2013

Regulars here know that I am an admirer of Britain’s short term weather forecasts.  Britain’s Meteorological Office also has a disgustingly politicised long term weather forecasting department, whose prophecies I despise.  But the short term forecasts are the real deal, based on real knowledge.  Pretty much always, these short term forecasts are correct.

Me being a libertarian, I regret that the Met Office is funded out of taxation rather than with voluntary payments from customers.  That it is now corrupted by the addition of that long term forecasting bit is a typical consequence of such compulsory funding, because compulsory funding has an inbuilt tendency to be grabbed hold of by people with dodgy agendas that wouldn’t pay for themselves by voluntary methods.  It is upon the prestige generated by the short term weather forecasts that the politicised long term forecasts sail forth and do all their damage.

None of which alters the fact that the Met Office’s short term forecasts are, as of now, very good, and a big part of the way I now live.

But as a fan of cricket, as well as of short term weather forecasts, I can’t help noticing that cricket people don’t admire short term weather forecasts nearly as much as I do.  I think this is because the only time when weather forecasts loom large for cricket players and cricket watchers is on rainy days, and most rainy days in England are not days of solid rain, but days with rain sometimes but not at other times, and in some places but not in other nearby places.  Now that the top cricket grounds in England mostly have clever drainage systems, cricket can be played at them pretty much whenever it is not actually raining.  But, when exactly will that be?  “Sunny intervals, scattered showers.” That’s a typical weather forecast in these islands.  But for how long, exactly, and where, exactly, will the sunny intervals be radiating their sunshine and the scattered showers be scattering their showers?

In England, the weather on a rainy day can be very local.  I live a walk away from the Oval cricket ground, which is on the other side of the Thames from me.  I have known many a nice day for me when the cricket was washed completely out at the Oval, and other days when they played, but would not have played at all had the weather been as I got it.

A day can be generally rainy, but whether any of the rain will fall, and for how long, on the particular cricket ground that the cricket world happens to be obsessing about that day is in the lap of the weather gods, and beyond the powers of the Met Office to be exact about. 

So, cricket people tend not to admire weather forecasts, or to set much store by them.

The ODI on Thursday in Leeds was a total washout.  I pretty much knew that it would be, because they were forecasting solid rain, which is actually quite rare in England.  But even then, a little local break in the clouds might have meant a shortened game.  They just had to wait and see, although by about lunchtime the game was up.  That was a day when their deep distrust of forecasts got their hopes up needlessly.  The spectators, I believe, stayed away in their thousands.

Today there is the second ODI between England and Australia in Manchester.  Here is the BBC version of the weather forecast for that right now:

A chilly but bright start to the day in many areas, but with showers affecting some western areas. Showers becoming more widespread during the morning with some of these heavy. A cool day with generally light winds.

That tells me, and has actually been telling me for several days, that today in Manchester would probably not be that good day for one of my photo-wanders.  I typically just want to know what kind of day it’s going to be, and that tells me.  If I did venture out, I’d take a brolly and a good book, make an early start, and stay close to transport so I could get home quick if it later turned really bad.  But the cricketers can’t tell from that whether they’ll get a game or not, because everything depends on exactly where the rain lands, and in what exact amounts.  That forecast could mean anything from an almost total wash-out to a great day of cricket.  I will be tuning in to see, but I don’t know what kind of game it will be, and neither does anyone else.

Friday September 06 2013

So I was leafing through Mick Hartley’s blog last week, as you do, and I came across this picture, in a posting entitled Edwin eats cats:

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And I thought, I recognise this.  Sure enough, when out and about near Hackney Wick myself, on (I bet) the exact same day that Hartley took the above snap, I snapped this:

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Click on that, to see that the graffiti is exactly as Hartley saw it.

I have pretty much identical tastes in pictures to Mick Hartley.  I probably ought to leave more comments on his site saying things like: nice photo, I like that one, good colours, and so on.  But like most sane people, I am reluctant to spout words praising art.  Such words tend to come out either banal or nonsensical.

More bad news for Edwin, in this picture, of another bridge, taken ten minutes later:

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At the time, I thought I was photoing another bridge, which currently, as I recall, goes from nowhere to nowhere, but which will presumably go from somewhere to somewhere once they finish all that Olympic refurbishment.  It turns out I was photoing graffiti.

Okay that’s enough of Western Civilisation collapsing. I agree with the graffitist using the white paint, critiquing his black paint predecessor.  “Enough”, he says.  I agree.

Wednesday September 04 2013

The Walkie Talkie has a problem.  It is frying nearby shops and passers-by with a concentrated death-beam of sunlight.

Here is a picture that I took of the Walkie Talkie earlier this year, the Walkie Talkie being the big downward tapering lump on the right:

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As this picture shows, one of the Walkie Talkie’s faces, the one pointing towards the river, is a giant concave mirror, pointing a bit downwards, which (had anyone used those words to describe that face) should have said that it would cause exactly the sort of trouble that it has now caused.

I am currently attempting a piece about modernism in architecture for Samizdata, and it would help me to be able to link to a picture of the Walkie Talkie which shows not only the building itself (which is what the news stories are all now showing), but also the building in its wider urban context.  This piece of writing is already a very complicated and unwieldy one, and it may never get finished, but meanwhile there is the kind of picture I need to be able to link to.

The footbridge is the new Millenium Bridge, which also had a problem when first built.  It wobbled.

This photo was taken from inside the new Blackfriars Railway Station, the one on a bridge.  It was taken through glass, hence the occasional bits of reflected light.

(But, hence also the rather agreeable blueness of the sky.  All glass, however clear it seems, acts as a photographic filter.  This explains also why views reflected in windows often come out looking better than the views themselves.)

Monday September 02 2013

Dezeen, which I nevertheless now like a lot, features rather too many, for my taste, dull rectangular private houses, commissioned (one suspects) by elderly relatives of the architect, to get him started. Can such houses later be sold easily, like real houses, or does the first buyer take a big hit?

But this next rectangular structure interests to me far more, and not just because it is scaffolding:

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The thing is, it’s a building made of scaffolding.  Okay not a real building, a temporary art gallery.  But surely an idea whose time has come, and actually been around for quite a while.

See also this café made of scaffolding and shipping containers.

I imagine that many people in the poorer parts of the poorer, bigger and less tidy sorts of cities out in Asia live in dwellings constructed of scaffolding, and that soon, many more will.  Nothing like a building bust to leave lots of otherwise useless scaffolding lying around, begging to be put to more permanent uses, by people who would otherwise be living in smaller sheds on the ground.  But, that’s just a guess.

Sunday September 01 2013

So yes, this time last week Goddaughter One and I went on a photowalk in the Hackney Wick area.

She sent me this photo that she took, of me photoing:

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If you want to make an old man look bad, have him bend down.

This, with much rotating and cropping to avoid total embarrassment, is the photo I was taking:

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I think we can agree that her photo is uglier, but more interesting and amusing.

Here is a photo I took of her:

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If you want to make a young woman look good, have her bend down.

As for the photo that Goddaughter One was taking, well, I don’t have that.  In general, though, she does this kind of thing quite often, e.g. when she spots a plastic bag floating in the canal.  Commonplace, even ugly, objects can become very beautiful when photographed with a lot of skill, such as Goddaughter One possesses.  (She is a professional, having recently had one of her photos on the front cover of the RIBA Journal.)

So, in the absence of the exact photo that Goddaughter One was taking when I took that photo of her last Sunday, here is a canal effect that I photoed, and would have photoed more had I realised, as I only did when I got home, how amusing the effect was and is.  I refer to the way that a certain sort of water weed growing on the surface of still water (actually water that the water weed itself makes still) can make that surface look like dry land.

This effect is greatly enhanced when there are ugly things that are very light floating on that surface, with the water weed somehow seeming to push those objects upwards to the point where they appear simply to resting on the top of the surface, just as if it really was dry land:

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Were I a bit cleverer with my camera, and were my camera also a bit cleverer, that could be an award-winning photo of the sort they print out and put in art galleries.  Well, that’s what I think.

Indeed:

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Original (bigger and better) photo here.

This was a ship delivering these cranes to baltimore harbor. they had to go under the Bay Bridge at low tide with the bridge closed to traffic. It was a sight to see!

Agreed.