Brian Micklethwait's Blog
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Most recent entries
- 2012 and 2016 times 2 – London on the rise
- Stripy house can stay stripy
- 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
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6000 Miles from Civilisation
A Decent Muesli
Adventures in Capitalism
Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise
Another Food Blog
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Burning Our Money
Chase me ladies, I'm in the cavalry
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Counting Cats in Zanzibar
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we make money not art
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This and that
Anyone trying to fly a UAV over the outdoor sets where the next installment of the Star Wars saga is being filmed in Croatia might be met by drones owned by the production company.
I knew there were such things, but it’s good to actually read about them.
The fun really starts when drones on spy missions like this are also armed, so they can fight off the drones that attack them.
Drone v drone fighting is going to be a spectacular sport, just as soon as it starts getting organised.
When me and the Transport Blog gang visited the Farnborough Air Show, way back when we did, it was good, but it felt rather antiquated. Drone v drone contests – real contests – would liven that up no end.
For me the interesting stuff is about why they may not be falling quite so often in the future:
We’ve already reached the next step in safety. Crane manufacturers are now trying to build in new automatic features to keep disaster from striking their equipment. Modern-day mobile cranes have load moment indicators that, when they are properly programmed, act as limit switches. These switches limit operators from moving loads deemed too heavy for the crane. The high-flying tower cranes have controls to limit loads in various places on the hoist line, depending on the function of the crane at any given point.
Tower and mobile cranes now can come equipped with video cameras to show views of the loads and work zones in the operator cab - the newest cranes include this technology in “head-up displays” that require no looking down to see the images - to manage blind lifts. Additionally, crane operators can expect to use anti-collision systems to stop a crane from moving outside its engineered zone.
The most recent crane malfunction I can find having happened in London was this one, in Ealing. Nobody hurt.
Different story altogether when a crane recently fell over in Mecca. Death toll: 107.
This prang, on the other hand, was not a crane collapsing, rather was it driven into by a helicopter. Ever since that happened, in January 2013, London’s construction cranes have all had bright red lights on the top of them. Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “red light district”:
Those cranes are across the river from me, photoed by me last November. Not the best photo you’ve ever seen, but it does the job of showing you what I’m talking about.
Six years ago I submitted a paper for a panel, “On the Absence of Absences” that was to be part of an academic conference later that year - in August 2010. Then, and now, I had no idea what the phrase “absence of absences” meant. The description provided by the panel organizers, printed below, did not help. The summary, or abstract of the proposed paper - was pure gibberish, as you can see below. I tried, as best I could within the limits of my own vocabulary, to write something that had many big words but which made no sense whatsoever. I not only wanted to see if I could fool the panel organizers and get my paper accepted, I also wanted to pull the curtain on the absurd pretentions of some segments of academic life. To my astonishment, the two panel organizers - both American sociologists - accepted my proposal and invited me to join them at the annual international conference of the Society for Social Studies of Science to be held that year in Tokyo.
I wonder what Hemingway would have made of “On the Absence of Absences”. (Hemingway, for those not inclined to follow links, is a programme to make your writing clearer.)
Presumably someone has also written a program which churns out this kind of drivel automatically. Google google.
The creators of the automatic nonsense generator, Jeremy Stribling, Dan Aguayo and Maxwell Krohn, have made the SCIgen program free to download. And scientists have been using it in their droves.
At the moment, this sort of drivel just marches on. This is because people who oppose the drivel have to convince the drivellers to stop, which is hard. And, being opposed to drivel, they usually have better things to do with their time. The trick is somehow to reverse the burden of proof, to put the drivellers in the position, en masse, of having to convince the rest of us that their drivel is not drivel. At that point, they find that they have no friends, only public contempt. Everybody, including them, thinks that it is drivel. And nobody thinks it worth bothering to even try to prove otherwise.
Regular cats have kittens, but this cat is big, and has cubs:
Mick Hartley had a picture of an underpass, at Mick Hartley, today. I went to where that underpass picture came from, to try to understand the underpass picture. I still don’t understand the underpass picture, but I did find the above mega-feline. Rather than reduce the whole picture and lose feline detail, I cranked up the cropper, in square mode (of which I am particularly fond).
I am greatly enjoying the progress of Soon-To-Be President Trump. File under: guilty pleasures. My libertarian friends mostly express horror at Trump’s irresistible rise, and his terrible opinions, and his terrible hair, but surely you never really know what you’ll get with a new President. During the Thatcher years some of the people who most agreed with me did very little that I liked, while others, impeccably governmental sorts, who were just doing what seemed sensible to them, did quite a lot of good things. See: privatisation. Maybe Trump will turn out like that. Maybe he will even decide to have dignified hair.
Trump seems to me like he’s going to be the USA’s first Television President, by which I mean someone who got to be President via television. Didn’t they have one of them in Brazil not so long ago? Some guy who had got well known by being some kind of TV talent show host, or some such thing, and then, to the horror of the Horrified Classes parlayed that into being President. It was probably a disaster, but Brazil usually is. And now, Brazil has one of the strongest libertarian movements in the world, does it not? Maybe that’s how libertarianism wins. First you have a crazy TV guy, and then libertarianism. I can hope.
Anyway, Trump. This piece about Trump by Scott Adams is a good laugh, as are comments on it like this:
I liked the one in Arkansas when the manager of the facility announced that Trump broke the all time attendance record set by ZZ Top in 1978. lol
He is certainly a canny operator, as Adams explains very cannily, cataloguing Trump’s many previous successes, such as a best selling book on how to negotiate.
Part of the skill of getting the Republican nomination is to behave like a guy the Mainstream Media are confident they can easily destroy, in due course. Which means that instead of destroying you straight away, they destroy all the other fellows, who they thought were stronger than you, which by definition they can’t have been, can they? You have to be like Russia, and look either much weaker than you are, so the media don’t bother with you, and then much stronger than you are, so the media then grovel, as they do when they face a force of nature, in other words a force bigger than them.
I could of course be quite wrong, but I reckon Trump is going to walk it, when he gets around to dealing with whichever car crash of a candidate the Dems stick in front of him. And it will either be Clinton or that old socialist guy, the ones already in the race. Nobody else will want to join, because the prize for winning the Dem nomination will be getting Trumped all over, and who needs that? Those two old crocks both joined the race while Trump was still in his ridiculous phase.
A few decades ago we had Johnny Cash, Bob Hope and Steve Jobs. Now we have no Cash, no Hope and no Jobs. Please don’t let Kevin Bacon die.
How do you tell when you’re out of invisible ink?
Just because nobody complains doesn’t mean all parachutes are perfect.
How come Miss Universe is only won by people from Earth?
I picked the first three by the fact that I actually did laugh out loud. Then, after about 30, the jokes started to fall flat. I stopped laughing, but carried on in the hope that the laughter would return. It never did. I was completely joked out.
By the time I reached 85, above, I was in the mood to get quite angry if someone said something even slightly angry-making, which is why I include 85. Yes, I’ve often wondered about this. Why does nobody not from Earth win that thing? Something should be done about it. And I don’t believe there’s ever been a Mr Universe from off-planet either.
It’s things like this that mean that when those Aliens do show up, they may be hostile. We should choose our words, and in particular, our masculinity and feminity championship descriptions, more carefully. This is not a joke.
Late this afternoon, looking up Victoria Street. Taken, I rather think, from the middle of the road, to get the cloud behind her in the right spot.
If I die trying to take a photo, so be it.
There’s a really good piece at Samizdata, posted earlier today by Michael Jennings, about Why a traveller loves Uber.
In a piece I did a while back about Uber, I speculated that a typical way that people will first get the Uber habit is when they visit a foreign city, where they trust the local taxi drivers about as far as they can spit them. So, they use Uber. Michael, with massively greater recent globetrotting experience than me, bangs this point home. We libertarians do love to talk about Uber.
One of my regular visit sites, Dezeen, recently featured a story about the redesign of the Uber logo, which resulted, critics mocked, in a new logo that looked like an arsehole. Uber’s head of design then immediately stepped down, to spend more time with his family.
This might be true. He was tired, and had been spending lots of long hours away from home, working on the design of the arsehole. That could be it.
What on earth possessed these designers to dump the U and go with a near-O instead, like they were changing the name from Uber to Ober, Oil of Ulay (now Olay) style, I cannot imagine.
None of this logo nonsense will change anything. Uber is great, no matter how they choose to logotomise it.
I have been reading Martin Geck’s biography of Bach (translated into English by Anthea Bell).
The question I now bring to Bach is: What did he think he was doing? Worshipping God? Being Beethoven before Beethoven? More the latter than I had realised, it would seem.
Here is an excerpt not from the book itself, but from my English paperback edition’s introduction, by John Butt:
One idea that immediately emerges from his biography is that Bach’s relatively provincial Eisenach background was something that he never fully relinquished. In other words, he plumbed the greatest depth of experience from a relatively modest environment. Ironically, this gave his music much value in later centuries. Had this music been truly fashionable or cosmopolitan in its own age, over- filled with local relevance, it would surely have sounded dated in later years. But Bach’s strikingly profound exploration of a limited world somehow translates well to subsequent eras. The historical material is relatively easily assimilated by any to whom it is alien, yet Bach’s treatment of it is the most penetrating and challenging imaginable.
Another point that rendered him such a ‘hardy traveller’ in later ages is that he did not cultivate a deliberately idiosyncratic personality. This biography shows us that his principal means of learning was the traditional one: study and improving exemplars. As Geck observes, Bach spent many years working on the same few works, and the exact beginning and ending of the process cannot (and should not) necessarily be traced. It is as if the composer is aiming for a perfection that is not humanly achievable. The very openness of these works, coupled with their intense perfection, somehow gives them a momentum that carries them into the future.
Idiosyncratic his compositional personality may not have been, but there is no doubt that Bach’s personality was extremely strong. Geck reveals an extravagant, ‘virtuoso’ character in Bach’s fiery encounters with the council of Arnstadt. As a virtuoso, Bach seems to wish to say as much as possible all in one moment, and this develops into a more mature dialectic, between the cultivation of the greatest intensity of expression and the greatest degree of order in his music. Geck discerns Bach’s search for ultimate truth in his basic compositional philosophy of ‘all-in-one’ and ‘all-from-one’ (his deriving of the entire composition from as small a number of elements as possible). Once again, this relates to Bach’s development of the most intense musical vision from a straitened environment.
Did Bach thus cultivate a sense of individuality, a sense of autonomous art, within the context of what was basically a traditional craft-like activity? Geck suggests that there was a real sense in which Bach’s music performed a covert social function somehow sublimating, his professional problems and the various contradictions of his age, such as between church and art. In this way, Bach’s music does indeed relate to the German tradition of the following century, not least the art of Beethoven, which similarly articulates a special kind of humanity by transcending the difficulties of life.
Art as social climbing. Discuss.
It certainly worked for Bach. (And Beethoven.)
Another oldie from the I Just Like It directory:
Taken last July, in the City of London, during a quiet weekend as I recall it.
It’s this one.
So, I’m about half way through telling the massed ranks of BMdotcom readers about an excellent day out with G(od)D(aughter) One, which was many months ago, now. My last posting about that was done at the end of last year. And there you were thinking, what with this no longer being last year, the year in which the excellent day out happened, I was all done with that day. Oh no. There’s lots more to be said about it. It feels to me like I’ve hardly started.
Today, since this is Friday, cat day, and more recently non-human creatures of any kind day, here are, not actual creatures, but some vans which I snapped that day, which illustrate some of the contrasting attitudes that we humans used to have and have now towards non-humans.
We eat non-human creatures:
We use sculpted non-human creatures to carry us on roundabouts
We also make use of real non-human creatures in circuses to entertain us, circuses and entertain us humans. Or, we used to. This kind of things has become rather old school and unfashionable, on account of it being considered cruel.
Now, that sort of entertainment has been almost entirely replaced by the pleasure we get from conserving and staring at non-human creatures:
Just before sundown, this afternoon:
Westminster Abbey, cranes, Big Ben, the Wheel, trees without leaves. Same old same old, in other words, but it always looks good to me.
I love the weird shapes you get when they cut trees weirdly, which they do, a lot.
Spent most of my blogging time today writing most of a piece for Samizdata.
On the matter of which London Big Thing says London loudest, then the clear answer is, if you are choosing only one: Big Ben.
This advert on a taxi had Big Ben, alone, saying London, and so does this movie advert, recently snapped by me in the tube:
As you can see from that short list of movie stars - a Scotsman based in America who now talks American, and two real Americans - this is an international slam bang things exploding movie, not a local posh British actors paid not-so-much movie. Their question was: What Big Thing says London to The World? Answer: Big Ben.
What I find interesting about this graphic is how very big they manage to make Big Ben look, like a New York skyscraper. It is as if the penumbra of celebrity that surrounds this Thing is now bigger than the Thing itself. (This often happens with famous things, I think. When you finally get to see certain famous paintings, they too seem very small. Wow. Is that it?) Compared to other Big Things, in London and elsewhere, the actual Big Ben is not very big at all.
I wonder, is that what tourists say, when they finally set eyes on it?
This plot summary zeroes in on London’s Big Things. The various stars of the movie, it says:
… must work together to stop the terrorists from the assassinating world leaders and the destroying the landmarks in the city.
Too many “the"s there, but you get the idea. Never mind the people. The World Leaders and the Big Things are what count.
Blogging, as I just was, about assemblages of London’s Big Things, here is another such assemblage, albeit quite a small one, which has been staring me in the face for weeks, but which I only just properly noticed:
This is to be seen at Guido Fawkes, whenever, as you can see, London’s Mayoral election is being blogged about. Very horizontalised, so no big blogging deal.
I still can’t really get used to it. I refer to how, when I see something intriguing, and photo it, I can look at it when I get home and look it up.
So, for instance, the day after David Bowie died (and the day that the news of his death was all over London (and presumably lots of other places besides (that day being a particular good day for me and my photoing (call Hemingway!!!!)))), I came upon this intriguing sign, outside a Church near Waterloo Station:
Hm, that looks interesting, I thought, as I perused this photo this morning. I must get inside that, some time Real Soon Now. Maybe I’ll go visit the place this afternoon.
And then I realised. This is the twenty first century, and I can get inside it, right here in my kitchen.
When I did, I encountered another of those pictures in which whoever did it is deciding which of London’s Big Things are worthy of inclusion in his picture of London’s Big Things:
As regulars here will know, these non-photographic assemblages of London’s Big Things are a big thing, for me, here, just now (those Boris bikes with Big Things on them also having been snapped on this same David-Bowie-died-yesterday day). Is there any city in the world with the sheer number of very recognisable Big Things, ancient and modern, that London now possesses? I reckon that for both quantity and quality, London’s Big Things have all other cities grovelling in self-abasement. But, what do I know? I only really know London.
Another thing I can’t quite get used to is that whenever I have a question that I don’t know the answer to, and to which google may not be so suited either, I can ask the Samizdata commentariat. I must ask them this, Real Soon Now.
Built, and being built:
Interesting that they got a convincing name organised for it good and early.
There have been times, which I prefer not to remember with links, when a bit of heckling from this programme would have improved my writing, and it would probably have improved this sentence, maybe by chopping it up into two sentences, or even three or four, or five, especially in the first or first few sentences of postings, when I tend to go round the houses like a drunken milkman, which is a bit unfair to milkmen, but there you go.
Last Thursday afternoon, just before it got dark, proved to be a truly excellent time to be taking photos, and by good fortune, that’s exactly what I was doing. Yesterday’s white van was an early snap from that expedition. And when I got onto Westminster Bridge, in fading light but light pouring down from a cloudless lump of blue above, things got really good.
I, of course photoed my phello (my blog my rules) photoers.
A lady was photoing Big Ben. So I photoed her:
And I carefully contrived it that her hand was in front of her face, so nobody could put her face through a computer and recognise her, that being another of my rules, now. But she spoiled it, by sticking her own, I guess, face on her phone, together with, I further guess, the faces of her husband and her son. A few seconds Googling confirmed for me that personalising the graphics on your smartphone case is now a definite thing.
So, why do I show these faces, having been so careful not to photo this lady’s actual face? Something to do with the fact that she is obviously so proud of her family that she sticks them on her phone, and then waves her phone in the sky, photoing Big Ben, on Westminster Bridge, London. This is me and this is my family, and I don’t care who knows it! I mean, if you wave a photo of yourself around the place, that’s fair game, I reckon. Well, my gaff my rules. And when it’s borderline, I follow the Reasonable Man test, me being the reasonable man who gets to decide.
No problems, on the other hand, with this guy, also photoing Big Ben, minutes later, also with his hand over his face:
Although, I had to crop this one a bit, to eliminate faces in the crowd behind him.
You can see that lovely sky there. And you can also see those delicate hand movements that photoers do, that I so love. See especially the fifth finger of his left hand. All the more fun to see when it’s such a big hunk of (bald-headed) manhood doing it.
I like white vans. And since this is Friday, I at least want recently to have encountered, virtually or for real, something feline, but with a bit of a difference from the usual internet felinities.
So, I was pleased to notice this vehicle, outside the Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre, across the road from Westminster Abbey, yesterday afternoon:
More about the enterprise in question here.
It is surprising, to me, given how much attention cats now get in the popular culture, how few enterprises use cattery to advertise themselves in this kind of way.
And I do mean eagles. Yes, it’s more fun and games from dezeen:
London’s Metropolitan Police force is considering using trained eagles to grab drones from the sky following a rise in unmanned aircraft crime ...
Next step, the drones will start shooting at the eagles.
Jemima Parry-Jones, director of the International Centre of Birds of Prey in Gloucestershire, told the BBC she thinks the idea is a “gimmick”.
Well, yes. Some journo with nothing to write asked the Met about if they’d use eagles, and the Met said yes they’d consider it. Which they no doubt did, for about five minutes. I mean, if you were an eagle, would you want to fly towards a thing with propellers? But where would fun come from if nobody could ever suggest gimmicks?
The story does throw interesting light on the fear provoked by drones, and, I think, on the reluctance of regular British people actually to want to buy these contraptions. I noted the arrival of drones in the shops, but they have not, as it were, taken off. Not in London anyway. They are strictly specialist devices, to enable the controllers of large bits of land, mostly out in the countryside, to control the land better and more cheaply.
Paris has been casting about for exciting new buildings. That one was rejected, but le www can soon put that right.
After a long period of imposed timidity, the architecture of Paris is coming back to life.
That modern house perched on the top is inspired.
It’s London envy, I think. All those French people under thirty who can only find work in London, going to London, and then reporting back that (a) London is cool, and that (b) a lot of this is down to its recent Big Things. So, make some Grand Choses for Paris.
My theory of why it was turned down. That what this wondrous Chose proves is that if people were allowed to do exactly what they like, in cities like Paris, it would be magnifique. To put it another way, this wondrous thing makes planners feel unnecessary, and they really don’t like that.
It is strangely lacking in colour, but again, this is easily correctable. Perhaps the monochromeness of it all is to make the architects feel more necessary.
I still fondly remember a posting I did on Samizdata, over a decade ago now, about a banged-up police car that was claiming to be Working for a safer London. Well, the white van below, photoed back on December 29th of last year, isn’t as big a PR clanger as that was, but it is a bit bad:
I know, I know. You can’t really make data insecure by damaging the van on which it says “secure data management”. This is the enterprise in question. Look at where the green lines cross the phone numbers, and you will see that, in the picture there, it is not the same van. So, they have more than one van. And by the look of it, what these vans do is transport documents. Nevertheless, this blemish suggests a certain sloppiness, or maybe I mean a certain willingness to seem sloppy, that does not sit well with handling data securely. If I was them, I’d want it sorted soonest.
On the same day, on the same photo-expedition, I also photoed this van:
Not nearly as white as the secure data van, but more to the point: not a scratch and squeaky clean. Which is appropriate, because this is also a business which needs to look like it is taking care when it is doing its business:
With paramount importance placed on quality and support, all equipment is thoroughly cleaned, tested and checked by our experienced engineers ...
Here’s another van, also snapped on that same expedition, that is both white and clean:
White vans often get rather dirty, but not this one:
Calabash are the No.1 commercial cleaning and washroom services company in London. Since 1992 we’ve been ensuring our clients maintain their premises to the highest standards ...
This, in other words, is a van that also needs to be maintained to the highest standards, and by the look of it, it is.
It is already hours into tomorrow, so to speak, and I am tired, but with a daily posting run to keep going. Which means shoving up any old damn thing before I go to bed.
Here we go:
Once again, my trusty I Just Like It! directory has come to my rescue. Although, it does need replenishing somewhat.
This photo was taken nine years ago, almost to the day, on the South Bank, in the vicinity of the Wheel, where characters of this sort are constantly to be seen posing for photos and hoping for cash.
So, what were these particular two characters saying to each other? You decide, if you care. I doubt anyone will, but maybe someone will not only think of something but actually add a comment to that effect.
I think the tall guy in black is saying: How much for your shoes?
More and more, as I browse around in places like dezeen, I come across pictures looking like this:
The this in question being the idea of connecting the tops of towers with footbridges. And that particular picture having been produced to advertise a new scheme for jazzing up Paris.
I love bridges of all kinds, and footbridges just as much as any other sort, so I have been paying attention to such pictures as the above for quite a while now. And I reckon there’s now something of a buzz developing around this idea. Simply, there are about to be a lot of such bridges as those fantasised above, connecting the tops of buildings, and often for the use of the general public, rather than just the people in the buildings directly connected. There will, in some big cities, in only a few years, be entire new alternative worlds at the old roof level, where you will be able to travel for miles without ever touching the regular old ground.
I am now going to scroll down at dezeen, to see if I can find more pictures like the above. Bear with me. …
Well, it took a while. Dezeen has lots of postings about stand-alone little modernist buildings, which, frankly, don’t interest me that much. My feeling about such stand-alones being: we already know how to do those. Modernist versions of big sheds or older school houses are just stylistic tweaking. Nothing profound is going on. But pictures like this …:
… and this …:
… (which I found in this posting, and which I remember being very struck by when I first set eyes on them) tell me that a seriously different urban future will soon be happening, in cities all over the globe.
The underlying story here is that cities are ceasing to be mere machines for living in and for working in, with occasional little spots that tourists will like to visit and have fun in (but which the locals ignore). They are becoming nice experiences. Everyone is becoming a tourist in them, you might say.
Central to this process is the banishment of big old road vehicles, and an alternative emphasis on being a pedestrian. Or even a speeded up pedestrian. Think of how the old dock districts of big cities are being turned into nice new developments with lots of waterside footpaths. Think of what has been happening to canals.
What’s going to happen is that one city – maybe Paris? – will do this in a big way, and tourism, including by the locals, will surge upwards, in the city and on the graphs. People will love it. And then lots of other cities will do it. Including London, because London has a natural pre-skyscraper height at which this will make sense, and because London is now so full of stuff that is worth seeing from this particular height.
A big reason why all this is going to happen is that it will not be all that expensive to do, one of the big reasons why pedestrian footbridges are already a major design flavour the decade being that public money is now tight, and footbridges are relatively cheap. Designers love them, because although footbridges do not involve that much metal or timber or concrete, they do often involve a lot of design.
The picture at the top of this posting has the words “Ternes-Villiers, La Ville Multi-Strate by Jacques Ferrier” attached to it at dezeen, and I just googled those words. And, I immediately found my way to this, here:
It’s not clear from this picture just how public these bridges are intended to be. Other pictures suggest that the “community” able to use these bridges will just be the people who live in the apartment blocks thus connected. But this doesn’t alter the fact that the general public are going to want to get involved in all this high-level fun and sightseeing (and photography), if only because it will all be so clearly visible from below.
On the same day I photoed this stuff, up there in …
…, I also photoed white vans, like these ones:
“Rimessa a nuovo e posa pavimenti in Legno” is the Italian for having sex for the first time, very elegantly (like they’re performing), on the pavement, in a place called Legno. No not really, I don’t know what that means. Something to do with wood flooring.
As for th van on the right, rather black but with a giant white painted piece of seafood on it, well, I like it. Although I do miss the times when the Wright Brothers didn’t mean that, but meant the first people to fly an airplane and land it, or whatever it was exactly that the original Wright Brothers did.
Here, on the other hand, is a white van of the sort you don’t want to see:
Graffiti, badly covered up or badly cleaned up, and then more graffiti. Not good. I have never seen a white van that was an graffiti battlefield before. Graffighting?
So, I’ll cheer myself up with another white van, this time an excellent one, photoed more recently, outside a building site in Westminster:
A white van for looking after tower cranes. White vans don’t get any better than that..
Today I have been what passes with me for busy. By this I do not mean that I have been doing anything along the lines of work, of benefit to others. Oh no. But I have been paying attention to a succession of things, all of which involved me not being in much of a state to do anything else.
There was a game of cricket, there was a game of rugger, and a game of football. England defeated South Africa. England defeated Scotland. And Spurs defeated Watford. So, three for three. And then I went to hear a talk at Christian Michel’s, about The Unconscious, Freudian and post-Freudian. Freud, it turns out, was right that there is an Unconscious, but wrong about a lot of the details.
On my way home from that talk, I took a photo. Technically it was very bad photo, because it was taken through the window of a moving tube train. It is of an advert at a tube station. But my photo did the job, which was to immortalise here yet another assemblage of London’s Big Things, in an advert:
That’s only a bit of the picture, rotated a bit, lightened and contrasted a bit and sharpened a bit.
The advert was for these visitor centres, which sound suspiciously like what used to be called “information desks”.
I see: the Cheesegrater, the Wheel, the BT Tower, Big Ben, the cable car river crossing, the Gherkin, Tower Bridge, the Shard, St Paul’s, and the pointy-topped Canary Wharf tower. I forgive TfL for plugging the embarrassing Emirates Dangleway. If they didn’t recommend it, who would?
Because of all that busy-ness, I have no time to put anything else here today.
Tomorrow: Super Bowl!
LATER: AB de Villiers, talking about South Africa now being two down with three to play:
“I can’t help but think, shit we have got to win three games in a row to win this series. Shucks, I mean. But that’s the fact of the matter. In situations like this, whether you are 2-nil up or 2-nil down, you have to take a small step. The next game is important for us. Shucks.”
We all know what shit is, but now learn what a shuck is.
The other day (like there has been been just the one (which is idiotic)), I was in …:
… to have brunch with GD2 and her sister in their newly acquired home.
While there I took some photos, including this still life, of pots and pans and utensils, which looks rather nice, like an oil painting:
Staying tasteful and artistic, and seeing as how this is Friday, here is something else I snapped there:
Yes, it’s a cat cushion! It was, though, probably there when they moved in.
Since a major percentage of the point of Art is to stay a couple of steps ahead of and to thereby piss off the dumbo bourgeoisie, the latest batch of Artists would probably now reckon the cat cushion to be more Artistic than the still life.
As for the bloke who painted that Kentish Town sign, he probably now works for an advertising agency.
The following picture explains (a) why all my cameras must have a zoom lens permanently available, as powerful as is within the bounds of sanity, and (b) why this zoom lens must be instantly usable. In other words why I will not tolerate faffing about with hand-attached lenses. Which means that all my cameras have had to be “bridge” cameras rather than DSLRs. I need wide-angle one moment, and then the next moment, by which I often mean the next second, I may need zoom and tons of it.
Here is the picture, which Antoine Clarke took, Twittered, and then phoned me about because he reckoned I would like it:
And I do like it. A lot. A lorry, with a panoramic photo-view of London on the side? What, as people now like to say, ‘s not to like?
But Antoine’s attached Twitter verbiage reads as follows:
What’s a Japanese torpedo bomber doing there?!?
What Japanese torpedo bomber? The world wants Antoine to zoom in on the Japanese torpedo bomber, to prove that there is indeed a Japanese torpedo bomber present.
I hoped that the photo above would download itself from Twitter, and it did. Good. But, it was only 640 pixels wide. (This Blog is 500 pixels wide.) Not so good.
When I expanded what I took to be the Japanese torpedo bomber, I got this:
If you already know that you are looking for a Japanese torpedo bomber, then you will, just about, maybe, see a Japanese torpedo bomber. But a zoomed in close-up would really have helped.
I know how hard it can be photoing vehicles that are, as it were, zooming past. Often one shot is the best you can hope for, and equally often not even that. Yesterday a Wicked Campervan zoomed, as it were, past me, with “DRINK TILL SHE’S PRETTY” written on its arse, and I completely missed photing it. (But no worries. I think it was the van in a photo you can find by scrolling down in this grumpy article.)
But something about the exact composition of Antoine’s shot tells me that Antoine’s lorry was stationary, or nearly so. So, Antoine, is there a bigger version of this shot available, more like 4000x3000 than 640x480? (4000x3000 being what my Panasonic Lumix FZ200 cranks out.) That would supply some Japanese torpedo bomber detail. Or is there even a close-up of the Japanese torpedo bomber?
Failing that, does Antoine know what enterprise this lorry was working for? Maybe they have a website, with photos?
Okay, now I’m being grumpy. It took me a long time to get into the habit of photoing all the incidental detail around a good photo, for future internetting purposes. But, with apologies for immediately demanding more when given something nice, … Antoine?
Early February is one of my favourite times of the year. Income tax is over and done with for another year. The days, although not yet long and warm, are at least getting longer and warmer. (Already the day is an hour longer than its December 24th worst.) And that means that well-lit photography time expands, which means I can do the same amount of photography but do not need to start so early.
That’s another snap I took yesterday. The Strata Tower was looking particularly fine in the evening sun. Very metallic.
And, because it’s only February, there were no damn leaves getting in the way of everything, just artfully interposed branches:
And, there is the Six Nations. It’s that time just before the first round kicks off, and so far, nobody’s team has lost any games. Every team has a one hundred percent record! How great is that?!?
Also taken yesterday.
Yes, today I was in Burgess Park, which is the other side of the river from me. I took the 148 bus, to see where it would go, and once in that bus, I spent my time wondering what Camberwell Green is.
I tried to take photos out of the bus, but the best seats, at the top at the front, were taken. I had to sit right at the back. But, in the vicinity of the Elephant and Castle, I did manage this:
I got lucky with the crane shadow, didn’t I? The development is called Elephant Park.
I never did find out about Camberwell Green, because the bus got stuck in a jam next to one of the entrances to Burgess Park, and I got out at the next stop to take another look at this diverting space. I visited Burgess Park once before, and liked it a lot. Great views of Big Things. Today was also good, from that point of view:
But the shot of the day, in my opinion so far, on the same evening, is this, of a photographer photoing the sunset:
You’ll have to take my word for it that the sunset is what he was photoing, and for that matter that he was even holding a camera. But he was.
Last Friday evening, at that meeting, I talked with Perry de Havilland about writing for Samizdata. I told him that I have recently been taking longer to finish my postings, to get them nearer to completely right. He compared blogging to rock ‘n’ roll. The clear implication being that blogging, like rock ‘n’ roll, is most truly itself when done, so to speak, live.
Each to his own. I now find that one of the symptoms of advancing years is that I am no longer as confident as I once was about the first thing that comes out of my mouth, or about what emerges from my tapping fingers. I prefer to have several reads-through of it, with gaps of time between them to think more.
Such polishing is not new, for me. I used to do it to stuff I wrote for the Libertarian Alliance. Stuff like this piece, which Patrick Crozier kindly linked back to, in one of the comments on the first of those two recent Samizdata pieces. As Patrick said, what that earlier piece said was very similar to what the Samizdata piece said. Appropriately enough, both pieces (separated by a quarter of century) were about how reluctant people are to change the basic way that they think about things.
Then as now, such polishing did not make my writing perfect. But it did make it quite a lot better.
Well, now, I seem to be reverting to writing more considered and revised essays, short or not so short, rather than “blog postings”. Rock ‘n’ roll is a young man’s game, and I do not feel comfortable writing in that manner. I used to. If Perry de Havilland still does (and he does), I am very happy for him. But it seems now not to suit me so much.
However, I do actually think that rock ‘n’ roll is now less appropriate. The novelty of just anyone being able to shovel stuff onto the internet has now passed. The mainstream media have now thoroughly internetted themselves, and the “any old stuff” approach (such as prevails here) does not get a blog like Samizdata the traffic that it used to get. I think that some of us at least should be polishing. More and more, my role model is becoming the late Findlay Dunachie. Not in the sense that I intend only to review books from now on. I mean that I find myself wanting to write more in the way he wrote, more thoughtfully, in a way that is more considered.
I am not now deciding to write differently. (I promise nothing.) I am merely noting that this is what seems now to be happening. An earlier stage in the change of attitude I am describing was earlier described in this posting here.
By which I mean, what seems to be happening at Samizdata. Here will continue to be the impulsive, sloppy, last minute, thinking aloud, what you get is what you get operation that it has always been. I did a little polishing of this piece, but not a lot.