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


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Saturday January 31 2015

My Last Friday meeting last night went, from where I sat, very well.  The speaker (Professor Tim Evans) gave a bravura performance.  Not everyone was convinced, and said so, but that’s fine.  That’s a feature, not a bug.

Best all, the exact right number of people attended.  The room was full. Every seat was taken.  Nobody had to stand.

From my personal point of view, the rearranging I did to the furniture set-up turned out beautifully.  From when they resumed at the start of 2013 until last December, these meetings have suffered from the presence of a sort of sideboard thingy, that sticks out from the wall of CDs, to your right as you step into the room.  From this sideboard, drinks and nibbles have been served.  But this didn’t work.  Most people couldn’t easily reach for sustenance during the meeting, and the sideboard broke the circle of seating, in a most ugly and unsatisfactory way.

But last night, food and drink, rather than being stuck away at the side, were instead dispensed from a central table, made of three big plank-like objects bolted together for the evening.  It worked much better, because everyone could then just reach out for their junk food and junk drink, instead of either pining for it in frustration or else traversing the room.

And, the intrusive sideboard thingy was replaced with what God had always intended should be there instead, more CD shelves:


There is always room for more shelves.

Details of this sort may seem very foolish, but they are what the craft of hospitality consists of.

imageAnother personal highlight for me was the wine I found at Sainsbury’s in the afternoon.  The only way it could have been improved upon, for my purposes, would have been if it had come from Tesco.

My wine-savvy guests laughed, but were also curious.  Yes, I’ll try a glass, they said, one after another.  And the verdict?  “I’ve tasted worse!” One of them said that in a loud voice, and the others concurred.

The cheapest wine usually costs a minimum of £4 in London, but this was £2.50.  Don’t you just love that it came in a plastic bottle (photoed by me afterwards, empty and with no top).

The attenders were as fine a bunch as I and my speaker have ever managed to assemble, being greatly improved by the presence in our midst of Goddaughter 2 and a couple of her Royal College of Music friends, a soprano and a baritone.  Word is that they had a good time.

I also personally enjoyed both the beginning and the end of the evening.  I always like it when the first person to arrive is a particular friend, rather than someone I only half know and am fretting about impressing, or failing to impress.  And last night the first person to arrive was a friend.

And, I like it when the last few people are also friends, or at least people I am not in any way anxious to be rid of.  Last night, two especially agreeable people (they know who they were) were the last to leave, but not before we had discussed the whole business of the scarcity of sociability, and the consequent possibility that I might, rather suddenly, wish to be alone.  The point is, knowing that I could tell them this without causing offence, I found that I did not want to.  My sociability was running very low, but an ordeal that you can switch off at any moment can often cease entirely from being an ordeal, and so it was last night.  Instead, we had an extremely interesting conversation.  They left in time to catch the last train, having absolutely not outstayed their welcome.

So all in all, everything went very well, for me personally.

Will I have anything to say about the speaker, Tim Evans, and what he actually said? Well, on that, time will tell.  I’m still thinking about that.

Thursday January 29 2015

Number 11 of these:


The trick was to get really close.

One of David Thompson’s latest clutch of ephemera.  He just keeps them coming.

Wednesday January 28 2015
Tuesday January 27 2015

Story here:

A man believed to be a recreational drone operator accidentally crashed a small device onto the White House grounds early Monday, investigators said, briefly triggering a lockdown and reinforcing concerns about security at the executive mansion.

Via here and here.

LATER: The inevitable “let’s ban drones” discussion is upon us.

EVEN LATER: Sports enthusiasts are clamoring for aerial robots that can record their best moves.

Lexington Green, here:

What if … ?

What would a history of the British Empire look like if it did not use the “rise and fall” metaphor?

What would that history look like if it examined not just the political framework or just the superficial gilt and glitter, or just the cruelty and crimes, but the deeper and more enduring substance?

What if someone wrote a history of the impact of the English speaking people and their institutions (political, financial, professional, commercial, military, technical, scientific, cultural), and the infinitely complex web of interconnections between them, as a continuous and unbroken story, with a past a present … and a future?

In other words, what if we were to read a history that did not see a rising British Empire followed by a falling Empire, then a rising American Empire which displaced it, but an organism which has taken on many forms over many centuries, and on many continents, but is nonetheless a single life?

What if we assume that the British Empire was not something that ended, but that the Anglosphere, of which the Empire was one expression, is something that has never stopped growing and evolving, and taking on new institutional forms?

What if it looked at the unremitting advance, the pitiless onslaught, universal insinuation, of the English speakers on the rest of the world, seizing big chunks of it (North America, Australia), sloshing up into many parts of it and receding again (India, Nigeria, Malaya), carving permanent marks in the cultural landscape they left behind, all the while getting wealthier and more powerful and pushing the frontiers of science and technology and all the other forms of material progress?

What if jet travel and the Internet have at last conquered the tyranny of distance which the Empire Federationists of a century ago dreamed that steam and telegraph cables would conquer? What if they were just a century too early?

What if linguistic and cultural commonalities are more important than mere geographical location in creating political unity in this newly shrunken world?

I recall musing along the same kind of lines myself, a while back.

The important thing is, this mustn’t be advertised first as a plan.  If that happens, then all the people who are against the Anglosphere, and who prefer places like Spain and Venezuela and Cuba and Hell, will use their ownership of the Mainstream Media to Put A Stop to the plan.  What needs to happen is for us to just do it, and then after about two decades of us having just done it, they’ll realise that it is a fate (as the Hellists will describe it) accompli.

Because, guess what, we probably are already doing it.

Monday January 26 2015

What the hell was I thinking, putting up this photo of that demo, when I also had this one to show you:



Two men who are, between them, wearing five different items of headgear.  The majority of them rather interesting.

Sunday January 25 2015

Before and after perusing the remains of that demo I chanced upon yesterday, I was photographing photographers.  Here are a few of them:

image image imageimage image imageimage image image

As you can see from the top left snap, he is photoing Westminster Abbey, and those two dramatic crouching shots, top middle and top right, are of photographers wanting to get the upper reaches rather than the lower reaches of Westminster Abbey in the background behind their friends.

Several quite good additions to the Interesting Hats sub-directory there, especially the gent, middle left, who looks to me like he’s in The Hunt For Red October.  Is he being post-modern and ironic?  Or does he, perchance, actually mean it?  Either way, I don’t like it.  I mean, do people now wander around London with swastikas in their hats?  But, if you were guessing who the spy was, you’d have to pick the one in the Union Jack hat.

The lady bottom middle is a bit out of focus.  But, her hat gets her included nevertheless.

And the gent at the bottom left is not very bald, but he is a bit.  He makes it into that sub-directory.

Saturday January 24 2015

Today, a fine looking day, a day in which many were to be seen wearing both gloves and sunglasses, I went awandering, down Victoria Street to Parliament Square, and then on across the River.

And in Parliament Square, I chanced upon a demo.  I hope to do a longer bit at Samizdata, hopefully tomorrow, about this demo.  In the meantime, here is a little horizontality, helpfully laid on by the demonstrators:


Click to get the original bigger picture.

If you want further thoughts from me about “that fatuous construct of political malcontents” called real democracy, follow that link.

And see also what I put in this piece about the Charlie Hebdo demo in Trafalgar Square:

… this was not your usual demo, the sort of demo perpetrated by the demonstrating classes ...

Today’s demo was exactly your usual demo.  Here is a report of what they were trying to do, that being something to do with “Occupy”.  From where I was standing, they failed.

I couldn’t find mainstream media coverage about this demo between this afternoon and now, which could just mean that there was lots and I didn’t find it.  Comments on that very welcome.

LATER: Here is an Evening Standard report.  It seems that what I saw was a failed Occupy demo, bolted onto the end of a somewhat more successful CND demo against Trident.

ALSO: Daily Mail.

Friday January 23 2015

Since it’s Friday, here is a picture I took of the back of someone’s jacket on Waterloo Bridge last Monday:


Click on that to get the original big picture.

I’ve already noted drones being used to take photos, and to save lives (although that is only being worked on).  Now, here is a story about drones being used to smuggle drugs.  One of these drones crashed, which is how they know.  The drugs were too heavy.  Man.

Is there anything, as Instapundit would ask, that drones can’t do? During the next few years, we’re probably going to find out.

LATER: Proposed State Legislation May Limit Drone Facial Recognition Use

Thursday January 22 2015

This morning I had fun keeping half an eye on one of those Big Bash 20/20 games they are having just now over in Oz. 

This morning‘s hero was a certain Jordan Silk of the Sydney Sixers, who slogged five such boundaries against the Sydney Thunder.  And thanks to the www, I immediately learned about what a long neck the man has.

Below, on the left, Jordan Silk, and on the right, former England bowler Gladstone Small:


Silk has a huge neck, but Small has no neck at all.  I imagine the (cricket part of the) internet is awash with pictures of these two guys, side by side.

The game was what they call these days a roller coaster ride.  One moment half of Sydney was cheering.  Next moment it was the other half cheering.  Thunder looking like walking it, with the sixers on seventy something for 5 after 13 overs.  Then someone is reminded of his team’s name and hits three consecutive sixes to swing it the Sixers’ way.  But the Sixers still need way over fifty off the last three overs.  In over 18, they get 25!  But, next (penultimate) over: 1, 4, W, 1, 1, 1.  Thunder look like winners.  Sixers still need 23 of just the one last over.  Someone called Lalor then comes on to bowl the last over, with bowling figures so far of 3 overs 1 maiden (a maiden in 20/20 being a miracle) 6 runs 4 wickets.  And Lalor then goes for 23, and the Sixers win on the last ball.  Jordan Silk and his big neck score two sixes off balls 2 and 3 of the final over.  But Silk gan only get a single off ball 4, which swings the match back towards Thunder.  But then, a tailender, needing 8 off two balls, promptly hits two fours, from his second and third balls faced.

Quite a game.

The one thing I really do not like about cricket writing is whether to put two or 2, four or 4, six or 6, twenty or 20, etcetera.  Comments about that, anyone?

Wednesday January 21 2015

At this blog, I am finding my one-a-day habit quite easy to stick with.  Part of this, I think, is that the penalty (in my mind) of failing to do something today is (in my mind) very large, by which I mean very large when set beside the effort of doing something (which can be something very easy to do).

Most people talk about habits and how you get into them as if they are all about, well, habit.  The brain is automatically triggered to do whatever it is, whenever, each day, or whenever you have just done something else.  You lock your door when you leave your home when nobody else is there.  After dinner, you immediately wash up.  Whatever.  It becomes painful to neglect such habits.  And there is, I’m sure, plenty of truth to such notions.

But the relationship between cost and benefit is also significant, regardless of mere mental triggers.  The longer you have been able to stick with a good habit, the worse it feels to break it, because of all that past investment.  On the other hand, the penalty for sticking with a bad habit (like me failing, yet again, to do a Samizdata posting after a longish dry spell there) is not great.  Percentage-wise it is tiny.  Instead of your dry spell lasting twenty days, it lasts twenty one days.  Big deal.

This is surely part of why getting out of a bad habit is very hard, at first, and getting into a good habit is hard, at first.  The prices of each particular failure are small, at first.  But as the good habit persists, the price of a failure to maintain it rises, while the cost of maintaining it stays the same, or (because of the mental trigger effect) actually falls.  (You get, as the saying goes, into the swing of it.)

Talking about “past investment” in a habit sounds like the “sunk investment fallacy”.  This is where you persist in investing in something not because the future investing you do will be profitable, but because of all the investing you have already done, even though future investment will be lost also.  But the reason why there is a special name for this error is that the sunk investment “fallacy” feels like it is true even when it isn’t.  The label exists because the error is so tempting, and consequently so common.  If you do not persist, all that past investment will feel wasted.  And of course, if continuing to “invest” in the habit will actually be beneficial (if the habit would be worth starting now even if you hadn’t already started it), then you really would be wasting all that past investment, if you let the habit slip.

I am not sure about this, and am not confident that I have expressed this very well, perhaps because I have it a bit wrong.  But that is the sort of thing that this blog is for.  I post half-baked thoughts and thereby get to bake them a bit more.

One obvious complaint about this kind of thinking is that blogging is supposed to be fun.  Well, for me, it is fun, when I can make myself do it.  Above all, it is fun when I have done it.  So, although not all aspects of doing it are fun, it is still fun, mostly.

Tuesday January 20 2015

Here, at the end:

You don’t always have to understand exactly what’s going on to enjoy what you’re seeing.

Words to live by, in all manner of situations.

That was said about this fun and games stuff, but I was saying much the same to myself as I watched the fabulously entertaining highlights of the semi-finals of the F(ootball) A(merica) Cup, or whatever they call it over there.  A great come-back and extra time win by Seattle.  A crushing victory by New England, and accusations that they cheated by softening their balls.  What more could you ask for?

Well, what you could ask for is a duet of monodirectional brackets in the heading.  But, no need, because there it is.

Monday January 19 2015

This posting is a bit of an experiment, because the two pictures embedded in it may not be small enough, to start with, and may have to be made smaller, after all those of you who hang on my every posting, and see it immediately, have seen it immediately.  Also, I want to put them on both sides of the posting, and that may not work either.  So, patience everyone, and be ready to endure graphic juggling, because these are the kind of things that my posting software is bad at showing me.  I have to see evertything in situ, to be sure.

imageimageSo, to get to the point, what this is about is the way that very small pictures sometimes look quite different to the exact same pictures, but larger, a theme also explored in this posting. And the idea is that the two pictures will go, on the left and on the right, at the top of this paragraph.  De-dum de-dum de-dum, computer crap computer crap.  Well, touch wood, this is working.  There was a bit of fiddling with the instructions about putting pictures on the right or on the left, but I finally cracked that and made it happen.

The point of all this is that the pictures, when small, look quite similar.  The only very obvious difference is that on the left there are rather more verticals in the railings to be seen.  But click on the pictures and get them ten times larger, and you will see that the focussing is quite different.  In the one on the left, the railings are the front are in focus and the Shard is barely discernible behind them.  On the right, the big picture shows the Shard quite clearly while the railings are very blurry.  Okay, the small pictures are not identical, and alert viewers may have detected the very difference that I say is so unclear in the small pictures, but the small pictures are much more similar to each other than the large ones are.

One of the many morals to be drawn from this is that the bigger the screen on your camera is the better, because the bigger the picture, the easier it is to tell exactly what that picture looks like.  This is yet another reason why people who take pictures with tablets, the cameras with the biggest screens of all, are being very sensible.  They are the ones who know exactly what they are getting, exactly when they are getting it.

In the end, the only cock-up that early readers were subjected to was that in the heading, I at first put that the Shard was in front of the railings rather than behind them.

Sunday January 18 2015

At that demo a week ago today, there were, of course, and abundance of smartphones being used to soak up snaps:

image imageimage image

And there were tablets being used as well:


But more intriguingly, and this was a first for me, I saw smartphones …:


… and tablets …:


… being used actually to demonstrate.  And as you can see, I wasn’t the only one who was interested.

I’m not sure what this means.  I simply note that it was happening.

Saturday January 17 2015

When it comes to Micklethwait’s Laws, the best one undoubtedly is and will always be Micklethwait’s Law of Negotiated Misery.

But there is also a Micklethwait’s Law of Shelves.  On the face of it, Micklethwait’s Law of Shelves is not that fundamental, but, writing about it now, I do think it explains quite a lot about the world, and about why there is so much stuff in the world, clogging it up.  It is a law that, unlike with (so far as I am aware) Micklethwait’s Law of Negotiated Misery, many others have discovered the truth of, even if I’ve not been able to find it spelt out in so many words on the www.  Micklethwait’s (or Whoever’s) Law of Shelves states that …:


… there is always room for more shelves.

That’s my bedroom.  Imagine what the rest of my place is like.

Friday January 16 2015


Sadly Jacob Rees-Mogg is not taking part, his cat wasn’t feline up to it. The big pussy. ...

Etcatera, etcatera.

Guido keeps going on about the Guidoisation of politics.  But he, it would appear, is on the receiving end of the ever rising tide of internet cat references.

imageMeanwhile, another outing here for the only cat reference I saw at the Charlie Hebdo demo in Trafalgar Square last Sunday.

Guido has of course been all over that story.

I’ve just been listening to Christopher Hitchens reading out what is apparently one of the chapters of his book God Is Not Great, and there is a cat reference in that also. Although down on dogs, it seems that the Muslims have tended, historically, to be nicer to cats than the Christians, because Christians have been in the habit of associating cats with the Devil.

Good grief!  More Guido moggy-blogging.

Thursday January 15 2015

Here’s a nice coincidence.  There I was writing about how I went from being, in my teens, a bad pen-and-ink picture-maker to, from around 2000 onwards, a far happier digital-photographic picture maker.  And here is a picture that captures that kind of metamorphosis perfectly:


It’s one of these pictures by Christoph Niemann.  Niemann’s pictures bring to mind that phrase used by one of the alter egos of Barry Humphries, Barry McKenzie, who described paintings as “hand done photos”.  These pictures really do only work as photos.  Until they are photoed, the job is not done.  But the hand-done bit is essential to what they are.

One thing about these pictures that I particularly like, apart from the basic fact that I like them, is their very favourable effort-to-impact ratio.  For my taste, too much of the picture-making displayed at Colossal consists of stuff that is quite nice to look at, but which took an absurdly huge amount of time and effort to contrive.  Also, there is often no logical or even meaningful connection between how the pictures are contrived and how they end up looking.  So, you’ve made a table cloth out of seeds.  Clever you.  But, why?  Niemann’s pictures answer this question perfectly.

But then again, the internet being the internet, if your elaborately pointless pictures catch people’s fancy and thousands glance at them, then I guess that, if you put in a lot of time and effort, you may well reckon than all the time and effort was worth it, especially if you had fun spending it and doing it.  And of course it is digital photography that transforms a laboriously produced one-off item of visual art that took far too much time and effort to do, into a mass experience that it made sense to spend a lot of time and effort doing.  But, most of these intricate sculptures and pictures at Colossal are just sculptures and pictures that were then photographed.  Niemann’s pictures are real Hand Done Photos.

As for me, between being a bad pen-and-ink picture maker and an okay-to-good digital photographer, I endured a big interval during which I made hardly any pictures of any kind.  My pictorial enthusiasm expressed itself in the design of pamphlets, and graphic design generally.  Basically I became a desktop publisher.  (I even earned money doing this.) First I just did publishing, on a desktop, paper-scissors-glue-photocopier.  Then computers arrived, and I was an early adopter of “desktop publishing”.  Then the internet arrived, and drew a big line under all that stuff.  I shovelled all my pamphlets onto the internet, and became a blogger.  And, I bought my first digital camera.  At first, blogging and digital photography did not mix very well.  Now, they mix very well indeed.

Wednesday January 14 2015

Dezeen reports that the Walkie Talkie Sky Garden is now open:


Note this:

This feature helped the project win planning permission, despite being outside the City of London’s main skyscraper cluster.

It seems that I am not the only one who believes that new buildings like the Walkie Talkie are good not only because they improve the views by being in the views, but by being a new place to look at the views.

And to repeat, I especially like how the Walkie Talkie looks from a distance.  The point being: it looks, not just like any old anonymous lump, but like the lump that is the Walkie Talkie.  The Walkie Talkie is, just like the Shard and the Gherkin and St Paul’s and Big Ben and the Wheel, recognisable, this being why it needs a special jokey name.  That means that it makes me happy whenever I see it.  It makes me feel at home.  It may not be beautiful exactly (although from nearby I happen to think that it is very beautiful).  But neither is the rest of London beautiful exactly, and I think the Walkie Talkie fits right in.

LATER: Diamond Geezer is way ahead of me.

Tuesday January 13 2015

From time to time I go looking for pictures of bridges, preferably new ones, but seldom find anything I don’t know about.  And then, quite by chance, while clicking through these old photos, I chance upon this:


It’s the Golden Gate, being built, in 1937.

I recall doing a pen-an-ink type sketch (as opposed to something theatrical like a comedy sketch – odd double meaning that), when in my teens, of the Severn Road Bridge, when it only had a chunk of road in the middle, suspended in glorious isolation, going nowhere in either direction (like in the photo here).  This photo reminds me of those times.

I never actually drew any decent pictures, but I did spend a lot of time thinking about composition, by which I mean that I chose quite good pictures to do, but actually did them very badly.  Now I take good pictures, rather less badly.  How I wish there had been digital cameras when I was a teenager.  My cycling expeditions around France, and then Scandinavia, and then Iceland, would have been far more fun, and now far easier to remember.  The old cameras, with “film” in them, were ridiculous.  You had to “develop” all the damn pictures, very expensively, just to find out that about three of them weren’t total crap.  But you tell young people this nowadays they think you’re mad.  And if you did all this, guess what, you were mad.

I have never shared the contempt that most people show - or pretend to show - for Adolf Hitler’s paintings.  Okay, so they aren’t Rembrandts, but even so, I would have loved to have been as good hand-done picture-making as he was.  Could it be that people just can’t bear to accept that he ever did anything well or anything good?  Just a wild guess.

Monday January 12 2015

But still pretty:


My thanks to the ever alert Mick Hartley,who found the less vertically challenged original here.

One day, a crane reserve (that link being to where the above cranes were photographed) will be a place where they preserve and worship our mighty mechanical lifting devices, not birds.  And cranes, of the good sort, will indeed be worshipped, just as soon as they are all replaced by anti-gravitational plasticene which will be stuck underneath heavy stuff, so it can be taken up to the tops of buildings by robot building workers.  In the future, buildings will mostly just be sprayed into the air, but some heavy things in them will still have to be made elsewhere and lifted to their required location.

Here, as promised, is a big clutch of photos of signs that I took at the Trafalgar Square demo yesterday.  If you want to, click on a square to get the original photo.  The squares have, in quite a few cases been fiddled out with to make them a bit clearer, but the originals you’ll get to with clicking are exactly as taken.

There were, of course, lots of signs (including many mobile phones and at least one tablet) saying “I AM CHARLIE”, in fact you can see quite a few such if you do some clicking.  But, here are all the signs I photographed that said something else as well, or instead:

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Of all of these, my two favourites are “Team Civilization”, and “Down With The Tyranny of The Offended” (in French).  But demos are at least as much about quantity as quality, and I trust the sheer number of signs shown here (there were plenty more that I didn’t get to photo) makes the bigger point.  There were a lot of people turning out to denounce these horrible attacks.

Even the rather or almost completely illegible signs are an encouragement, I think, because what these signs tell us is that quite a few people were present, and feeling strongly enough about it to want to wave a sign, who had never been anywhere near such a demo ever before.

Feel free to reproduce any of these images at will, with or without attribution.  If you’d like bigger versions of any of the pictures, my email can be found here, top left, where it says “Contact”.

Sunday January 11 2015

Spent the middle of the day at the demo, taking my usual excessive number of pictures, and then the evening trying to divide them up into clumps to show here, or somewhere.

My main impression was that this was a real demo, rather than some faked up exercise in pretending to be angry about some bit of bad economic or political news that some bunch of people have just been hit by, but not very hard, with lots of identical signs all printed out by the same dubious Marxist agitprop organisation, and then afterwards lots of moaning about how the evil Mass Media paid no attention.  There were a lot of people there:


Not surprisingly, there were a lot of French people present, what with London now containing so many French people.  Also not surprisingly, the average age of those present was young, what with there being so many young French people in London.


My thanks to Goddaughter 2, now back in London, who told me that she and a friend were going to attend.  Had she not done this, I would only have twigged that it was happening when it started happening and I saw it on the telly.

I have in mind, Real Soon Now, to be posting a clump of pictures of the signs and pictures that people were holding up, along the lines of these photos, that I took of a much smaller demo in London a while back, including the one above, and also including this one, which I especially like:


My immediate reaction to the Paris brouhaha was not: “I am Charlie Hebdo!” It was to take another crack at reading the Quran, to check if it really is as obnoxious as I remember it being the first time around.  So far, it is, even more than I remember.

Saturday January 10 2015

A while back I linked to a report mentioning how drones with cameras had been hovering near sunbathing girls at the beach.  Not good.

Well, here is a report another drone doing things on the beach, but this time good things.  It flies out to sea from the beach and delivers a life preserver to a swimmer in difficulties, which I presume means something like a rubber ring the swimmer can get into instead of having to depend on their swimming skills:


That, at any rate, is the idea.  This thing is not at the the soon-to-be-crowdfunded stage.

Via Instapundit.

The odd thing about the above photo is how unclear it is how big this thing is.

Friday January 09 2015

Indeed.  Behind the photographer is a coach:


Passing buses and lorries make fine backdrops for photos I find.  I especially like this because the picture on the coach (in aid of this enterprise, I presume) is so bizarre.  This is exactly how the picture emerged from the camera.  No cropping, no rotating, nothing.  It was taken last September, outside Westminster Abbey, looking away from the main entrance and towards Parliament Square.  None of which is even at bit clear, because of the coach.  Unless you are a railings spotter.

I spent the day building CD shelves, hence the need for a quota photo.

Thursday January 08 2015

At the end of November 2014 (on the day that I also took these photos) I made a small pilgrimage to Tower Bridge, the excuse being that I might be able to photo up someone’s skirt through the observation floor that they had recently installed at the top of that bridge, and the reason being that I simply like to go on random pilgrimages in central London, for the sake of what I might see on the way there, there, and on the way back.

As often happens with these small pilgrimages of mine, I got there not at midday, but towards the end of the day.  By which I mean just before and during the ending of daylight.  And the ending of daylight is a very good time for taking photos, especially with a digital camera that is good in low light conditions, and especially if you are someone who likes taking pictures of other photographers in ways that don’t show their faces but do show the screens of their cameras.  At dusk, those screens tend to show up particularly well, as a number of these photographer photos illustrate:

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The more I photo, the more I find myself liking to take categories of photos, photos in sets.  At first, my photos of photographers were just photos of photographers.  But soon I was subdividing that huge category, into photographers taking selfies, photographers looking at the photos they’d taken.  Recently I have found myself making further subdivisions, often of photos I have been taking for some while but which I had not been putting into a separate category in my head, if you get my meaning.  So, above, in addition to all the photos of photographer’s camera screens, we see contributions to the photographers taking selfies category (subdivision: couples taking selfies), to the photographers looking at the photos they have just taken category, but also a good addition to the bald blokes taking photos category, and two for the photographers with interesting hats category.

And of course, there is that vast category that has hove into view in the last few years, of people taking photos with their mobile phones.  No less than seven of the above twelve snaps are of people doing this.  This was not a decision on my part, merely a consequence of me picking out nice photos of people taking photos.

My favourite photo of these is the last one of all, bottom right.  The light is nearly gone, but that means that the view of the shot he is taking (with his mobile phone) shines forth splendidly, as strongly as what he is photoing.  And I love that I got what he was photoing as well as his screen picture of what he was photoing.

It was the essentialness of posting that one photo, very late but not never, that made me, while I was about it, also stick up the others, all twelve having already been subdivided into a separate little directory.

Wednesday January 07 2015

The world is very full of ugly modern buildings, which would be greatly improved, I think, by a dash of colour.  Accordingly, I am always on the lookout for brightly coloured modern buildings, either because they have been coloured much later, or because they were like that to start with.  See also this posting, about white architectural modernism is so black and white..

So, I like this, in Tokyo:


Details here.

There are street wires to be seen, but not very many, and in only one of the photos.

Tuesday January 06 2015

Spent the day writing half a talk about sport as a replacement for war, for Christian Michel.  But, on the night (i.e. tonight), I just winged it.  One of the better talks I’ve ever given, which admittedly isn’t saying much.  And one of the most shambolically prepared.  Now knackered and watching the Wildcard Playoff Highlights on C4.  More considered content should follow, Real Soon Now.

Monday January 05 2015

My thanks to Tony, for his and his family’s hospitality during the last week and more, and for this photo, which he took in Quimper recently, and kindly emailed to me a few days ago.  I couldn’t then pay attention to it, but it was waiting for me when I got home:


What this shows is how Quimper Cathedral looked before they put two big(ger) spikes on the top of it, in the nineteenth century, thus making it look how it looks now.

I can find nothing about this transformation on the internet, let alone any repro of this actual map.  Odd.  Odd, that is, unless it is all there and I merely couldn’t find it.  That would not be odd at all.

Sunday January 04 2015

After an interminable day in trains, disconnected from the www, I finally got home, plugged myself back in again, with my British keyboard, and came across this (a comment on this), from Michael Jennings:

On dynasties, if the 2016 presidential election is Bush v Clinton, America will have definitively jumped the shark.


Saturday January 03 2015

The error messages have continued, so all I will do this evening is post this.  Back home tomorrow evening, and I hope things work better there.  The temptation to attempt another picture posting is huge, but I will resist.

No I won’t.  That went so well, I’ll give it a go:

I only got this far so you’ll just have to click on this.

Like I said, see you tomorrow.

Friday January 02 2015

I love to photo things in shops, because that way you can enjoy them indefinitely, yet never buy them.

Cats, for instance:

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Uploading all of those took an age.  I keep getting messages saying things like this:

PHP has encountered an Access Violation at 01BEA37F

Very informative.  But if I just keep trying, eventually it works.

If it isn’t one stupid thing, it’s another stupid thing.  It will bear repeating again and again that no two computers in the entire world are exactly alike.  Get used to one, and you ideally want to keep using that one, always.  Switch to another, and life just becomes relentlessly more difficult and annoying.

The message of all the cat stuff I do here is that blogging is fun and that if you are a blogger you should never forget it.  Sadly, this evening, blogging has not been fun. 

Thursday January 01 2015

In Quimper, as opposed to the world, the Twin Towers still stand, in the shape of the two identical spires of Quimper Cathedral.

When out and about in Quimper, and in among photoing roof clutter, I also made a point of trudging up the shady, frigid side of the long hill that overlooks the river valley that is Quimper, to try to photo Quimper and its Cathedral from there.

I have tried this before, but have only previously been here in the summer, when the trees are all smothered in foliage.  I had been thinking about this since before I came here this time around.  This time around, I thought, I might be able to really see Quimper and its Cathedral properly, with branches and twigs intervening somewhat and rather decoratively, but with no leaves to spoil the view.  I earlier photographed the Cathedral in gaps between the leaves, but this time I wanted to get both the Cathedral, and its place in the entirety of Quimper.

And I got it:


Branches and twigs intervening decoratively, but no foliage to spoil the wider view.

I didn’t want you people thinking that the only thing that interests me about foreign places is foreign roof clutter.

Also: see this piece about all the speakers I had at my Last Fridays, last year.  I had to step on it a bit yesterday, because you have to do end-of-year pieces like this before the year ends, even if nobody besides Paul Marks reads them until several days later.  It’s the rule.  But despite all that, and actually somewhat because of it, I have had a very Happy New Year so far, and I hope you are having one also, and that your happiness continues.