Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
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Most recent entries
- Mr Ed has some metaphorical fun
- A picture of a book about pictures
- To Tottenham (8): Zooming in on some Big Things
- Playing golf versus following cricket
- Quota bicycles
- Another Capital Golf car
- Battersea Power Station then and now and soon
- Timing shits instead of forcing them
- Lincoln Paine shifts the emphasis from land to water (with a very big book)
- Classic cars in Lower Marsh
- Stabat Mater at St Stephen’s Gloucester Road
- A selfie being taken a decade ago
- Gloucester Road with evening sun
- Lea River footbridge
- “Yeah, no …”
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This and that
Incoming from 6k, about a dramatic Big Things photo that he came across, via a Facebook friend. There is also a blog posting at his place about it, and about how I might like it, which indeed I do.
I’ve done what he suggested and have thinned it for here:
He has the whole thing, and here it is even bigger. Very dramatic, I think you will agree.
6k entitles his posting “Waterloo sunset”. This is a fine Kinks song, but sunsets are defined by where you are when you see them, and this photo was taken from the other side from Waterloo of the Big Things of the City of London, which is what these Big Things are. He has most of them identified, but his big omission (no criticism intended - he is, after all, now 6k miles away) is the tallest one, in the middle. This is the Cheesegrater.
My first thought was that this view might have been taken from the spot I visited last January, when I took these Big Thing photos.
But that isn’t right. However, some other photos I took that day that do point at the approximate spot where the above sunset photo was, I think, taken from.
Photos like this one, also thinned:
6k’s sunset photo was taken from somewhere in among those houses on the other side of the river, with the Shard sticking up behind, on the left of my photo.
Here is a slice of Google Map which shows were everyone is:
I was where it says “ME”. The Big Things of the City are where it says “BIG THINGS”, and 6k’s anonymous photographer was standing somewhere very approximately where I have put “?”. The spot I chose for “?” is something called Stave Hill Ecological Park, which sounds very promising, what with it maybe being a hill. I have never been there and I must check it out. But, that’s only my guess. The photographer could have been quite a bit further south and/or west. Don’t know.
But there is more. While going through the photos I took last January, comparing them with 6k’s sunset photo, I came across this one, which I have again thinned:
Again, click to get the bigger version.
Now, in the middle there, unmistakably (with three unmistakable holes in its top), is the Strata.
But, and I only spotted this today, almost directly behind it is the equally unmistakable Spraycan, unmistakable because in the dark, that is how the Spraycan is always lit up.
Here is a close up of the two of them:
The Strata is at the Elephant and Castle, and the Spraycan is way over in Vauxhall. Beyond Waterloo, in other words. Once again, I hit google maps, to check on the alignment of these two favourite Big Things, and it all fits. By and by, I shall return to that same spot, to take more and better versions of this photo.
Like I always say, my camera has better eyesight than I have. On days like that one, it almost invariably sees far more than I see.
Every once in a while I hear or read about someone who sees sound, as colour, different sorts of sounds as different colours. (As you can tell from the links at the bottom of this, I just did this again, on purpose.) What the hell are these people talking about? You don’t see sound, you hear it.
But, I have learned enough of the contrasting natures and nervous systems of different people to know that claims of this sort are probably true, in the sense that this is indeed what it feels like to those making such claims, even if the claims made no sense whatever to me. (Here is another piece by me, about how different people differ, this time with respect to the notion that you (i.e. they) can decide what you (they) believe. To me, what you believe is what you actually do believe, and you can no more change it with a mere decision than you can decide to grow another foot. But other people clearly can change what they believe, in just this cavalier fashion. What they actually, deep down, think is true doesn’t seem to matter to them. To me: bewildering and bizarre. To them: obvious and commonplace.)
So anyway, back to those bizarre and bewildering people who see sounds, different sounds as different colours.
I now understand these people much better.
Because, yesterday morning, for a fleeting instant, it happened to me.
Immediately after it happened, I hastily bashed some notes into a computer file describing what I had just experienced, and that is the file that I am now typing further and more considered thoughts into now.
What happened was that I awoke, to the sound of my alarm clock. This alarm clock makes a high pitched beeping noise: beep, pause, beep, pause, beep, pause ...
And, I experienced this sound as ... white.
That is correct. I saw the sound. And the sound was just as white as the background colour of the file into which I am now typing, or the background colour of this blog posting as you are now looking at it.
I never experience sounds a colours when fully conscious. But it makes perfect sense to me that experiences I may only have during the weird moment when I am neither entirely awake nor entirely asleep, but am moving from the latter state to the former state, might be experiences that others may have much more frequently, even when fully awake. Or, fully awake by their standards.
Yesterday morning, for that fleeting, bleeping instant, some sort of weird connection was being made between my ears and the bit of brain where colours get processed and reflected upon, a place where all incoming messages are interpreted as colours no matter what they were originally, a connection that doesn’t normally occur, or perhaps which continues to occur when I am fully awake, but so weakly compared to the connections made between my ears and and the sound processing part of my brain as to be undetectable.
All I have to believe, about those strange people who see sounds as colours all the time, is that they experience what I very briefly experienced yesterday morning, but much more strongly than I did and do. This is not now hard for me to imagine, not hard at all.
A very quick skim-read of this wikipedia article about chromesthesia (which is the particular sort of synesthesia that turns sound into colour, as opposed to just something into something else) did to tell me that chromosthesia can happen particularly when you are waking up, but that could be wrong.
However, I did spot (at the other end of the chromesthesia link above) this:
However, all studies to date have reported that synesthetes and non-synesthetes alike match high pitched sounds to lighter or brighter colors and low pitched sounds to darker tones, indicating that there may be some common mechanism that underlies the associations present in normal adult brains.
So, I am not alone in associating a high pitched bleep with a very light colour, in my case the lightest colour of the lot.
Was in the Westminster Bridge Parliament Square area this afternoon. Photoed many photoers photoing. Few of the pictures are of much current interest. Although, give it a decade and there will surely be a dozen absolute crackers. I mean, will a mobile then be a thing you carry? Surely they’ll just be in your earings, or something. With the screen on contact lenses. Again: or something.
But I did like this one:
It’s the square gap in the lid that makes it.
Better blogging tomorrow, I hope, even though I actually promise nothing.
I am fond of saying that a consequence of how Big Thing architecture tends to be done these is that there is now a big call for highly specialised window cleaners. (See, for instance, this piece, about One New Change.) Just hanging a shelf down from the top no longer does it, because now the walls are liable to slope every which way.
Now, you need mountaineers:
A social enterprise is looking for people with a head for heights who want to be The Shard’s window cleaners.
The unique opportunity was posted on jobs site Good People Connect, and pays up to £20,000 a year, depending on experience.
You need to have abseiled before for the role, working 6am to 2pm six days a week, and need to be unemployed and living in Southwark.
That’s from a short report by Robyn Vinter, of whom I was critical the other day. Good to be able to be nicer this time around.
Chequeholders will soon be able to cash their payment almost instantly by taking a photo on their smartphone and sending it to the bank.
The government’s Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill will allow banks to process cheques using “digital imaging” technology for the first time.
As well as removing the hassle of a visit to the bank, the new scheme is expected to allow cheques to be cleared in two days, instead of the current six.
Yet another surprising impact of digital photography. Had I known about it when I gave that talk I did about this, I’d have given this a mention.
Here’s a piece entitled Google Glass:10 reasons Brits won’t buy it. The basic argument is: it’s creepy, it’s uncool, it has various other more specific disadvantages.
I think that the writer of this piece, Robyn Vinter, makes the very common error of saying that a piece of kit won’t catch on because, in her opinion it is, in a general sort of way, not nice or not good. I know it’s only a jokey piece, pandering to ignorant prejudice and general technophobia, but it contains a serious and wrong idea about how technology gets established in the wider world.
Technology doesn’t catch on because people like Robyn Vinter think that it’s cool.
Technology or software, or whatever, catches on because it solves a particular problem for a particular group of people, and they start using it. People like Robyn Vinter then say: ooh, how very uncool you are. And the people using the thing say: guess what Robyn Vinter, we don’t care what you think, we are finding it extremely useful, to do what we want to do. If you don’t think we look cool, this is entirely your problem and absolutely not our problem at all. Gradually other uses for the thing in question accumulate, and quite a few people use it for several different things and get really excited and try to use it for everything, because they now like it so much. If enough uses are found, then the alleged uncoolness of the thing just gets overwhelmed by people using it, in public, in full view, and to hell with the coolists. If the coolists still want to write articles about how uncool this thing is, even though thousands of their potential readers are now using it, then they are pushed aside and other writers willing to say that it’s cool after all are told to write that instead.
So the question is: will Google Glass be useful enough? Basically, it would appear to be a screen that you can use while you are doing something else, to do computer stuff and regular stuff at the same time. Sounds extremely useful to me, for ... various things that I now know not of. But I am sure things will turn up that it is very useful for, even essential for. Work, basically. Not strutting about in the street. No. Getting worthwhile things done, more efficiently, faster. That kind of thing. We’ll soon see, anyway.
This guy is much more optimistic. Better, he understands how Google Glass will or will not catch on. What can it do? Not enough, yet, seems to be his answer. But that may change. My guess is it will change.
See also, this piece by me from way back, about another sort of coolist with delusions of grandeur.
And see also these pictures of another useful thing being used in an allegedly very uncool way, namely people taking photos with tablets. This tendency has in no way abated since I took those snaps. Quite the opposite.
There is also a definite whiff, in Robyn Vinter’s piece, of the status anxiety I wrote about in this recent piece here, if not in Vinter herself then in the readers she is appealing to. What if this gizmo makes us look and feel stupid? What if it demotes us in the pecking order? The answer is: if it does, it does. That won’t stop it being used.
I will go on saying that the tower, as featured in all these photos that I recently photoed, ...:
... should be called the Spray Can, until everyone is calling it the Spray Can. Or the Spraycan, that’s optional.
Or until someone comes up with an (even) better name.
But meanwhile, what shall we call the ”Salesforce” Tower?
The new name should please the residents but piss off Salesforce, for renaming towers all over the damn place, and make them wish they hadn’t attempted this in London. Salesfuck. Something along those lines. Not good enough, because too profane to be printed in regular newspapers. Salesfarce? Failsforce? Close enough to Salesforce to make the connection. But insulting. To Salesforce. The obvious thing would be to just carry on calling it the Heron Tower, but I don’t think that will punish these Salesfuckers nearly enough. Their stupid name needs to be dragged audibly through the mud.
In case you are wondering, yes I am still a libertarian. Capitalism, hurrah! But the thing is, when you complain about a business doing something really annoying, there’s quite a decent chance they may stop, or at least, if they persist, be commercially punished. At the very least there is a decent chance you can make whoever did whatever it was squirm a little, and generally be made a bit of a prat of. When you complain about the government, there is much less chance of any such good stuff happening. No way will you get, e.g., refund. Just another bill to clean up whatever the original mess was.
So, complaints against capitalism are rewarded, by capitalism. Complaints against governments are not rewarded nearly so much, by governments or by anything else.
So guess which, in defiance of all sanity, you get more of.
That’s quite profound, I think. (This is why I like tangenting. See below.)
City A.M. is now one of my go-to places first thing, and there I read today:
Transport for London (TfL) will be introducing screens displaying how many people are sitting upstairs and which seats are available, in a trial system to begin in two weeks.
The display screens will be situated next to the driver as people board the bus and between the driver and the staircase before passengers go upstairs.
I am struck by two electronic sign innovations that have already arrived on the London transport scene.
There are those invaluable signs at bus stops, telling you what is due, when, and where it will go. The only problem with these signs is that not every bus stop has them. I know, I know, you can crank up the bus app on your mobile. But I prefer not to have to bother, and anyway, that’s a lot of fuss just for a bus. (Note the vagiaries of the spelling there.)
And the other innovation, much more recent, is those little signs that tell pedestrians - i.e. me - how many seconds will elapse before the pedestrian sign will be turning red. Very helpful. I don’t want to freak out motorists by getting in their way, but nor do I want to neglect an opportunity to cross if I can do so without freaking out the motorists. These latest signs tell me what I need to know. And it’s amazing how far you can travel in three seconds, if you know that three seconds is all that you have, but that you definitely do have three seconds.
So, will these new sign inside buses be any use? Judging by earlier TfL electronic signage efforts, my guess is yes.
(More rhyming fun with esses (?) there. It could so easily have been and gues and yess. And before that, fus and buss. (Does such tangenting pis you off? (And are you fed up with this multiple bracket gag? (This, I think, being the record.))))
As politically controlled entities go, TfL is not too shabby, although goodness knows what it costs. Especially given that they are now dragging their feet (which is all it will take for Uber to get truly motoring in London) when it comes to crushing Uber. It’s the same mentality, d’you think? TfL likes electronic signage, whether the signs are public or personal. Could be. Do you think the next thing will be big public Uber signs that you can use to whistle up cheap and cheerful transport, if you don’t have a mobile on you? Again: could be.
Know what’s the perfect crime? Murdering a jury. You can’t get a fair trial because any jury will be biased against you.
It’s Frank J. The J stands for Jenius.
I love to look at modern buildings, before they are finished and covered up. All sorts of strange things are to be seen, that may or may not soon disappear from view.
What, for example, is this peculiar structure, which I photographed this afternoon, on the south side of Oxford Street?
Here is the original shot I took, before I cropped, rotated, and so forth:
I include that because there may be clues as to what the Thing is from its context.
But what will this Thing end up looking like? Will it be covered up? Will ladders be involved? I don’t know, but I’ll keep you posted.
I’ll also do something obvious that I failed to even attempt this afternoon, which is I’ll try to photo whatever signs on the site I could find, that might enable me to chase down a website with maybe a mock-up of what the final Thing will look like. I keep telling myself to do this kind of thing, and telling other digital photographers that they should do this kind of thing. But today, I was not concentrating on photography, I was concentrating on shopping. Trying to buy a new jacket. And I forgot to search out signs. Mistake.
But correctable. I can go back. London is what I love to photograph and if I get it wrong, I can try again. If the weather is bad I can wait until it’s nicer. It’s not like this Thing is in a foreign city I was in last month, and I’m stuck here never being able to photo those signs. I can go back there, find those signs, if they are there, and chase down that website, if it exists.
I just came across this video, here, again, which has had many hits on Youtube. Like millions of others, I like it a lot. It’s Louis C.K., complaining about people who complain about modern life and all its wondrous new gadgetry. I was going to stick the video here, but it wouldn’t fit. (Anyone know how to make it 500 wide instead of 560? Maybe I should redesign my blog wider.) But follow that link and scroll down a bit to where it says: “- it’s very funny”; and then, in white on black at the top of the video: “+Everthing’s+Amazing+ +Nobody’s+Happy”. And then click and enjoy.
Part of why improved gadgets don’t automatically make us happy is that everyone gets to have a go on them, but what really makes a lot of us happy is improved relative status. New gadgets create a different world, in which we may as likely as not be demoted in status, below others who understand the new gadgets better.
There is also the particular genius of the gadgeteers to be considered, compared to our own ungenii. New gadgets can make many of us feel like savages, out of our depth in a world of wonders, less capable (because utterly incapable of producing such a wondrous gadget), rather than more capable (through possessing the gadget).
In the article linked to, there is speculation that old people are more easily pleased, by things. I certainly enjoy digital photography, as all regulars here will know, and you obviously enjoy that or you’d not be a regular. I also enjoy typing verbiage into my magic machine and this magic blog. Perhaps a reason why these things please me so much is that I am old, and had been waiting for such things to be possible for such a very, very long time. For decades, I fretted about my inability to make pictures without fuss and write stuff without fuss, and show both to other people whenever I felt like it, again without fuss. Now I can do these things. Any envy I feel towards the people who contrived these wonder is dwarfed by the pleasure I get in doing these things, finally. I know, I’ve been showing off my pictures and babbling away at various blogs for well over a decade. But like I say, I’m old, and more than a decade is nothing to how long I spent waiting for these things to be possible, all the while not even knowing if they ever would be. I had become used to knowing that these things might never happen, which means that I still can’t quite believe that they have happened, which means that they still make me happy.
When I say “back”, what I mean is, looking up its arse, at its bollocks:
Here is the same beast from its better side, together with some history, such as why it’s called the Coade Lion.
It’s one of my favourite London statues, especially when it lines itself up with the Wheel.
And here is something else feline, spotted in the place where all vehicles of interest to me seem to be spotted these days, Lower Marsh:
It’s the Bobcat E50, as you can see in my photo if you look carefully enough.
So, what is a “bobcat”? I saw a TV documentary recently about honey badgers, and they are nothing to do with regular badgers. So, is a bobcat a regular cat nearly, or a regular cat not at all? Does it merely look or behave somewhat like a cat, to some rather unobservant people? It turns out bobcats are cats. Wikipedia has a picture of what it describes as “bobcat kittens” (which ought surely to be: bobkittens). They look exactly like regular cat kittens.
Wikipedia is reasonably reliable on non-politically-controversial topics, but I was rather expecting the bobcat wikipedia entry to have a clutch of propaganda in it about how bobcats are an endangered species and how this is all the fault of people, capitalism, etc.. But actually the bobcat news here, according to Wikipedia, is quite good:
Although bobcats have been hunted extensively by humans, both for sport and fur, their population has proven resilient though declining in some areas.
See also, this strange guy. I like the Police Academy movies, in which he appears, despite him rather than to any degree because of him. The only thing I do like about him is that he omits the terminal e from his surname, thereby making it that tiny bit easier for me to make people spell my surname right.
One of my favourite computer functions is Screen Capture. For years, I didn’t know how to do this. How is “prt sc” screen capture? I used to just photo the screen. Then I got told, and more to the point, told at a time just before I found many uses for this procedure, and as a result, I actually got it fixed in my head.
So it is that I am able to capture fleeting moments like this one:
That was the passage of play that turned the game England’s way, today, on day one of the test match at Headingley. Sri Lanka went from 228-5 and motoring to 229-9, in nine balls. In among all this, Broad got a hat trick, but didn’t even realise and had to be told! There was then a little last wicket stand and they got to over 250, but the big damage had been done.
Here is another interesting moment, which is the moment when they show me all the guys who worked on Adobe Photoshop, while I am loading Adobe Photoshop.
But, the trouble is, when I do a Screen Capture while that is happening, it doesn’t work. What gets captured is the moment when Adobe Photoshop is finally loaded. Until then, I guess my computer is too busy loading Photoshop to do a Screen Capture. Either all that, or else I just wasn’t doing it right, as is entirely possible.
But instead of obsessing about what I might or might not be doing wrong, I instead simply photographed the moment, just like old times:
The reason I wanted to photo this was all the Indian names, in among the occasional regular American ones. Interesting. Where are they all based, I wonder? I’m guessing somewhere in the USA, but what do I know? Adobe seems to have a lot of places where they could be. And of course, if something like Adobe doesn’t know how to plug a global network of co-workers together, who does? From where I sit, these Indian guys could be anywhere. Even so, like I say, interesting.
A lot of the Americans I read on the Internet say that Obama is destroying America, and he seems to be doing as much as he can along these lines. But there is a lot of ruin in a country, and a lot of ruin in American. This screen shot suggests that at least parts of the good old American upward economic mobility ladder are working just fine.
And me photoing the two of them, of course, last night on Westminster Bridge. Time and again, I only really see what I have photoed when I get home and really look at them all.
So, example, when I photoed this spikey-haired guy, I thought that all I was doing was photoing a photographer who was photoing Big Ben. I was doing that, but it turns out I was doing even more than that:
See the bottom left of his screen.
Was he doing this on purpose? Does he share my fascination with other photographers? I have another shot that is very similar, and in that one also, there is that same photographer, in the bottom left hand corner. The fact that he held that exact shot, with the other photographer present and photoing, says to me that it might well have been deliberate.
I think that this …:
… is a spectacularly beautiful photograph.
It is the work of Mick Hartley, whose photos I admire more and more.
What I so especially like about this one is how the colour of the waterlily is contrasted with the black and bleak colouring of the big circular leaves. Usually, in photos of this sort, those big leaves would be bright green. But the indoor setting and the industrialised Kew Gardens ceiling turns the water in which the lilies float into something more like crude oil, giving the whole thing a very distinct atmosphere.
It brings to (my) mind those scenes in Schindler’s List where a little girl in bright red appears, in an otherwise black and white movie.
In general, colour is a big deal for Hartley. From time to time, he features photos at his blog (by him or by others) where there is a big expanse of bright colour and a relatively drab small object or objects in the middle. The opposite of the waterlily photo, in other words. But maybe I just notice these particular photos because I particularly like them.
There was a time when self-consciously artistic photographers seemed deliberately to turn their backs on the huge opportunities offered by colour photography. Digital cameras, which could do colour from the get go, and which have enabled regular people to revel in colour photography whatever the Black and White Photosnobs might be saying about colour photography, have put a damper on all that. At first, posh photographers sneered at digital photographers partly because of all the colour. But now, Real Photographers are, more and more, people who got started with photography because of cheap digital photography.
I’m absolutely not saying that I dislike black and white photography, or photography of very drab and monochrome colours (like when it’s nearly dark for instance). I’m merely saying that bright colours are great also. And these two things are especially diverting when combined in the same photo, as above.
Michael J, frequent contributor to this blog (he contributed yesterday’s photo, for instance), has a piece up today at Samzidata concerning a mysterious tank that he photoed in Southwark. It’s an old T-34 apparently. Michael calls it “a Soviet tank”, but it might make more sense to call it “the Soviet tank”, for this was one of the decisive weapons of World War 2.
Here is another tank:
This is to be seen outside the “Firepower Museum”, which is next to the Woolwich Arsenal. According to one of the contributors here, this is “an Iraqi 2SC Akatsiya”, but another commenter says its a “2S3 152mm spg”, spg meaning self-propelled gun, aka tank. Sounds like a type of computer file. Or then again it could be the Special Patrol Group.
Here is something else you can see across the road from the tank, in the form of some armour plating that has been rather severely tested:
But best of all, I think, is the nearby clutch of Metal Men.
Taken by? No prizes for guessing who. Country? “Poland/Georgia”. Date? “Jan/Feb” of this year. That’s what it said in the email.
Mick Hartley writes about England’s loss to Italy last night in their opening World Cup game:
Much football punditry has always seemed to me to be an effort to provide a plausible post-hoc storyline for what was to a considerable extent a matter of chance. … as though the whole enterprise must be made sense of by virtue of the winning team being the team that deserved to win.
Very true. (I’m guessing that, with luck (ho ho), this book will have a lot more to say about this tendency.) Actually, much of the appeal of football (to those to whom it appeals) is that the “best” team on the day often doesn’t win. This means that the supporters of bad teams can live in constant hope of upsets.
This also explains why, at the early stages of a season, surprising teams are often at the top of the table. Later, the law of averages asserts itself inexorably, and the best teams arrange themselves in logical order at the top, and the surprise early leaders sink back into the pack where they belong.
All of which makes something like the World Cup quite good fun. All you have to do to win it is win five or six of your first six games. All the best teams have to do not to win is lose one or two of their first six games. One of the great moments of all World Cups is the one when a Much Fancied Team gets on its Early Plane Home.
What the pundits seem to have been saying about England is that, because the “expectation level” is low, they might do quite well. The expectation level is low so it’s high, in other words. My take on England is that they are a fairly bad team, who played fairly well against Italy, and lost, and that they will probably do fairly badly, but you never know, because there are only half a dozen games for each team to play. I will video-record all of England’s games, such as they are, just in case. I live in hope of a small series of upsets.
I also video-recorded the Spain Netherlands game, by far the most remarkable one so far. Will Spain be this time around’s Much Fancied Team early departure home?
And I also videoed the first game, between Brazil and Croatia, with its truly dire opening ceremony. This was a real collector’s item of awfulness. What is it about these terrible opening ceremonies, with their meaningless costumes and absurd dance moves? Witnessing them is like listening to someone talking in a language has only recently been invented - for aliens to speak in a movie, for instance - which consists of no actual words, only meaningless sounds.
The opening ceremony for the 2012 Olympics in London contained many things I disagreed with, and I continue to disagree with the entire principle of me and all other anti-Olympickers having to pay for the damn thing for the next thousand years. But at least that ceremony contained stuff that meant something. Although come to think of it, maybe the only people who understood it was us Brits, and for countless mllions elsewhere, that was also the gibbering of aliens.
I go to Lower Marsh because second hand CD shop Gramex is there. (Gramex now has a new website.) But Lower Marsh also seems to be a place where I regularly espy interesting vehicles.
And then, the day before yesterday, there was this “Vespa GS” (I have another less nice photo which shows that clearly written on the front):
Even I could tell it was some kind of classic, and so it proved.
It’s the white bits on the tires that really makes my nostalgia kick in. All the coolest cars and bikes had white walled tires when I was a kid.
I went on a photo-expedition to Erith, last Tuesday. Well, strictly speaking, from Erith. What I did was go to Erith by train, and then walk back along the south side of the river, to Woolwich.
I took about a thousand photos, truly about a thousand, of which the one below was one of the first. My journey to Erith by train started at London Bridge Station, and this photo was taken at that station, while I awaited my train to Erith.
This guy has the full story of this strange circumstance.
First off, he notes, it’s not a V2. It’s a sixties vintage Atlas booster. So, what gives? Someone, he pointed out, is looking after this object, so it must be there for a reason. But, what reason?
A commenter explains:
It’s advertising the Britain at War experience below London Bridge Station.
And all is explained. That link no longer works, on account of the Britain at War Experience having now been closed down, on account of the redevelopment around London Bridge Station. But advertising the Britain at War Experience is how it got to be there.
Maybe the Not-V2 will soon start to look at bit tatty. It may even vanish altogether. All the more reason to photo it now.
I plan to be going to the land of the foreign people. Quite soon. Early August. The air tickets are already bought. But, have just discovered that my passport needs renewing. It gave up the ghost in about February.
Bugger. Passports are just now being particularly delayed. Questions are being Asked In The House about it. So I guess they are now throwing money at the problem.
There is also a throw money at it option for us punters, about an extra hundred quid, which I have in mind to use, just to make sure that all goes well. But first I have to get a haircut and then I have to get some “passport photos” done. I know how to take photos of myself. I do not know how to take “passport photos”. This is why God invented shops.
This kind of thing is why I keep going to dezeen:
Engineering firm Arup has produced prototype 3D-printed steel construction joints that could be used to create more efficient structures.
Arup says it has produced a new design method for creating “critical structural steel elements” for tensile structures – a development it believes signals “a whole new direction for the use of additive manufacturing in the field of construction and engineering”.
A glimpse of much architecture to come, I think.
First impression: don’t much like it. Gormley is very hit or miss, and this looks to me like a miss. But, it’s only a tube ride away, so what’s for me to lose if I go and check it out? I might like it more in, so to speak, the flesh. Not that it looks very fleshy.
What strikes me, when I look at these two pictures, is how much more sculpturally interesting the purely functional artifact is, compared to the “sculpture”.
This morning, did an SQotD about Uber.
Other Perry (Metzger) added this:
Uber does not always offer cheaper service. They operate on a market pricing mechanism to assure availability.
This means that, for example, on New Year’s Eve in NYC, you are assured you can get an Uber car even though normal taxis are essentially unavailable because of excess demand, but you will also discover the Uber car will be quite expensive. This is, of course, as it should be — the spike in price encourages as many Uber drivers as possible to work during a rush period. However, it is also decried by those who do not understand economics.
You could turn this around and say that Uber will be a sort of ongoing economics lesson for the citizenry.
Libertarians like me are always going on about how prices are a signalling mechanism. Uber makes this extremely clear, I think.
One of the features of a genuinely chaotic cricket collapse is that not only does the batting dressing room descend into chaos. So does the scoring. And Cricinfo, God bless it, just descended into chaos this morning. Batsmen were out, but then remained at the crease, only later to be replaced for no reason. Wickets were credited to one bowler in his bowling analysis, but to the other bowler where it says how the batsman got out in the scorecard. Etcetera. It got so I just didn’t believe it. And frankly, I was finding it hard to believe. Gloucester, having made 207-3 in a twenty twenty game yesterday (only for the other guys’ innings to be rained off), descended into the chaos that is 25-5.
Against Surrey. Hurrah! All those expensive bowlers finally accomplishing something. Although actually, the one taking the most wickets so far (if Cricinfo is to be believed) is Matt Dunn, from Egham, who cost Surrey nothing beyond what I’m guessing is a pretty basic wage.
It will presumably calm down. (Already Gloucester are 55-5.) Gloucester will slog (Geraint Jones and the other Gidman) and scratch (all the other remaining Gloucester batters) to a hundred and something, and by the close Surrey will be eighty for eight, because presumably conditions are not that good for batting. But just for the time being, let me enjoy this.
I don’t expect you to, but I am keeping up with the rest of the story, at Cricinfo, here.
Other Gidman out! 57-6.
67-7! 67-8!! Three wickets to Jason Roy, occasional spinner. Will they even get to a hundred?
LATER: Surrey doing extremely well shock.
Gloucester all out 112, which wasn’t quite as bad for them as once it looked, especially if conditions were as batting-hostile as their score suggested they might be. But then, at the close, instead of being approximately all out for something very similar, Surrey were 186-0. Surrey openers Burns and Ansari each having faced about the same number of deliveries as the entire Gloucester side, and nearing centuries. Burns is nearly there, and Ansari already has a personal best.
I did not see that coming.
Reminds me of this.
Ansari didn’t get to a hundred, his personal best now being 98, but Burns is past a hundred and still going.
Rather more excitingly, Alphonso Thomas of Somerset has just become the first person, unless I am much mistaken, to take four wickets with four consecutive balls, against Sussex. And these were not tailenders. Sussex began the day twenty something for no wicket and are now thirty something for five, Thomas having taken a hat trick with the last three balls of over 17 and then another top order wicket with the first ball of over 19. My vague impression is that Malinga recently took four consecutive wickets in the final over of an IPL T20 slog, but that this is the first time this has been done in a proper game in proper circumstances, so to speak. There will be plenty of discussion of this feat, so my hunches will soon be confirmed or denied without me having to do the digging.
The reason county cricket often excites me is that I have the scores puttering away on Cricinfo, in the background. So, when big things happen, they often happen to me all at once. The first I heard about Thomas taking any wickets at all was when he had already taken three, and when another guy had already taken another in over 18.
LATER: No, four in four in first class cricket is not rare. It just hasn’t happened in test cricket. Plus, I think the Malinga thing was in an international T20 game, rather than merely in the IPL. So he is the only one to have done this in an international. I knew you’d be excited.
This afternoon I took a walk down by the river, starting at Vauxhall Bridge on the south side, but not then going downstream as I usually would, but upstream, towards that enticing Battersea crane cluster.
The late afternoon sunshine was glorious, and I took a ton of photos. Such as this one:
While weaving my way along the river bank, I was delighted by how many Big Things came into view at various times during my journey. In that picture you can see the Cheesegrater, the Gerkin and the Shard, as well as, on the right in the foreground, the big Battersea Tower which I want everyone to call the Spraycan. At various other times, I espied the Strata and the Walkie Talkie, the latter being visible only minutes before I took the above shot. But the pictures I took which included the Walkie Talkie said less about the general ambience of the riverside, so I went with this one.
No more for now. I did get to that crane cluster. In fact I got beyond it. And very photogenic it was too. And interesting. Because of what they are building. I promise nothing but I saw other interesting things on this expedition and hope to mention some of them, in the future. Just not now.
Tate & Lyle Park presumably no longer exists. I wouldn’t know. I haven’t been there lately. This posting is partly to remind me to go, again, and check out what is happening there. It is surely something.
Last time I was there, I photographed two geese. Follow that link and you’ll also find a google maps picture from space on a very clear day of Tate & Lyle Park. I also took many other photos which I never got around to showing here, including the four that follow. Here is what Tate & Lyle Park looked like:
Below is why Tate & Lyle Park is called (by me anyway) Tate & Lyle Park. It’s not a park really. They’ll have built all over it by now. But on that day I was able to walk right to the river’s edge and photo Mr and Mrs Goose. I’ll still be able to photo everything though, because the shot above was taken from the nearby D(ocklands) L(ight) R(ailway) railway station, which is above ground and a fine spot for snapping from.
Here is a gas holder, on the other side of the river, a photo in the I Just Like It category:
Finally, here is another artistic type shot, with a different kind of clutter in it, this time: water clutter.
The tall thing in the middle of the picture is one of the towers, then nearing completion and basically needing only the wires and the pods, of the folly known as the Emirates Air Line. This is notorious for going from somewhere useless to somewhere else equally useless and for the fact that hardly anyone now uses it.
I had a go on this Emirates Air Line or whatever, after the Olympics (Mayor Boris J’s excuse for erecting it) had died down. It was less fun than I hoped. It was bumpy and it moves quite rapidly which is terrible for photography, unlike the Wheel which is smooth and slow. You can’t search out the best photos to take by lining things up, like you can on a railway platform on at somewhere like the top of One New Change. Instead you just get what you get, often very blurrily. Plus, the views from it are actually not that much better than they are on the ground in that part of London. But I’m glad I did the trip. Had I not, I have continued wondering about how good it is.
Incoming from 6k, alerting me to a New Statesman piece by Ed Smith, about how, after a small digger has dug out a deep hole under a posh London house to make the house bigger, it makes more sense to leave the digger in the hole than go to the bother of extricating it. Makes sense. What a great story.
So, many of the squares of the capital’s super-prime real estate, from Belgravia and Chelsea to Mayfair and Notting Hill, have been reconfigured house by house. Given that London’s strict planning rules restrict building upwards, digging downwards has been the solution for owners who want to expand their property’s square-footage.
So, enter the digger, and dig dig dig. But then:
The difficulty is in getting the digger out again. To construct a no-expense-spared new basement, the digger has to go so deep into the London earth that it is unable to drive out again. What could be done?
Initially, the developers would often use a large crane to scoop up the digger, which was by now nestled almost out of sight at the bottom of a deep hole. Then they began to calculate the cost-benefit equation of this procedure. First, a crane would have to be hired; second, the entire street would need to be closed for a day while the crane was manoeuvred into place. Both of these stages were very expensive, not to mention unpopular among the distinguished local residents.
A new solution emerged: simply bury the digger in its own hole. Given the exceptional profits of London property development, why bother with the expense and hassle of retrieving a used digger – worth only £5,000 or £6,000 – from the back of a house that would soon be sold for several million? The time and money expended on rescuing a digger were better spent moving on to the next big deal.
Today being a Friday, I was delighted to learn that there is a feline aspect to this, in the form of Ed Smith’s final speculations. This man is clearly learning fast how to get noticed on the Internet!
In centuries to come, says Smith:
… they will surely decipher a correlation between London’s richest corners and the presence of these buried diggers. The atrium of the British Museum, around 5000AD, will feature a digger prominently as the central icon of elite, 21st-century living.
What will the explanatory caption say? “Situated immediately adjacent to the heated underground swimming pool and cinema at the back of the house, no superior London address was complete without one of these highly desirable icons, sometimes nicknamed ‘the Compact Cat’. This metallic icon was a special sacrificial gesture, a symbol of deep thanks to the most discussed, revered and pre-eminent god of the age, worshipped around the world: London Property.”
About every other day Google sends me news of Emmanuel Todd, news in French. Sometimes it is news of him talking on video, in French. I can just about order a croissant in a French shop, but that’s as far as my French goes.
So, imagine my delight on learning about this video, of Emmanuel Todd talking … in English!
What he is saying is that the different family systems of Europe mean that the different nations of Europe are politically incompatible, and accordingly that the Euro is doomed. Worth a watch, if that kind of thing interests you. In particular, the way that the Euro is putting Germany in charge of France is not at all what the French elite had in mind, and this means that sooner or later the French will have to dump the Euro. But first, their elite has to explain why it made this hideous blunder in the first place. Because dumping the Euro would mean admitting they should never have done it in the first place.
Tim Evans recently gave a talk to the End of the World Club (silly name, great talks) about politics, David Cameron’s politics in particular. He said that Cameron has no problem with Britain leaving the EU, while he remains Prime Minister. Sure enough, about two days later, an email from Tim arrives, complete with the link, saying: And so it starts ...
I know what you’re thinking. This is a tricycle:
That’s not a tricycle.
This is a tricycle:
Photoed by me in an alleyway off Lower Marsh, this afternoon.
These are also tricycles
Blog and learn.
In this list of Top10 Rooftop Bars in London is one that is both enticing and new to me.
I know all about the view from the top of One New Change (the first in this list), and very fine it is too.
The view from Radio Rooftop Bar at ME Hotel (number 6) is another that I am now very familiar with.
Sushisamba (number 7) I have here written a memo to self here about, a memo saying I must check this out. So far I haven’t, but this reminds me that I must. (The Heron Tower has, by the way, recently been renamed.) From this the Gherkin can be observed from close up. The trouble with the view from the Gherkin is that from the Gherkin one cannot see the Gherkin.
But, I did not realise that number 3, “Vista at the Trafalgar” was publicly accessible:
I think I know of this place, having seen people in it, but I did not know I might be able to go there myself. So, another memo to self.
I’m sure I’ll be able to take more dramatic snaps than that one, although to be fair to them, they were going for informative rather than dramatic.
September 18th 2013, Stanford-Le-Hope, late afternoon:
I was thinking that this blog is becoming a bit like another, substitute London Daily Photo. But that isn’t right. Ham used to report on lots of different London things and London stories. I keep on photoing the same kinds of things again and again. Besides which, Stanford-Le-Hope is a bit too far from London to be London. It’s about an hour out of here by train.
I went looking, of course, for cranes, but the north bank of the Thames Estuary is also pylon spotter heaven.
Indeed. Another full day, and no time for argued and explicated profundities. Can’t do that under time pressure, and when I am longing for bed. So, a quota Strata photo:
I like the way there are two kinds of green light there.
And of course, I like the sign about scaffolding, because I like scaffolding, and I like signs.