Brian Micklethwait's Blog

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

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Thursday March 31 2016

I’m posting the photos below of these various ladies which I took yesterday outside Westminster Abbey, (a) because I like them and hope that you do too, but also (b) because I am checking out a new way to present photos here.

The problem has been how to contrive horizontal spaces between little photos.  I’m doing it a different way here, which I hope gives me tighter control over the ultimate width of space occupied, and thus avoids the final one of a horizontal set of them (in this case just the two) spilling over, at some magnifications and/or on some devices, onto a newly created next line.

Here goes:

imageimageimage
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Well according to my posting software, that’s working.

If anyone sees anything weird of ugly, rather than two photos on the top next to each other (with a small gap in between) and then another below them and exactly the same width as the combined width of the two photos above plus the gap, please leave a comment.

All three photos are the result of my quest to make faces unrecognisable to computers.  The top two show no faces at all.  The two faces below?  Well, do those sunglasses do the anonymity job?  I hope so.

Reflective sunglasses like these certainly provide me with lots of photo-fun.  The lady on the left as we look has both Big Ben and the selfie stick she was using reflected in her glasses, twice.  The lady on the right has this church, next to Westminster Abbey, reflected in her specs.  Click on it and you’ll see all this more clearly.

And I love those coloured finger nails, top right.

Wednesday March 30 2016

Indeed.  While searching through the archives for this picture, I came upon this one:

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I’d just seen a Superman v Batman poster in the tube, so this 3D Batmovie advert jumped out at me, metaphorically speaking.  The photo was taken in May 2008, so anyone who cares can work out which Batmovie that would be.

I like the highly appropriate architectural background.  That being, I think (supercommenter Alastair may want to correct me), County Hall.

Here’s a Superheroine, photoed moments later:

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I’m guessing that’s Lara Croft.

Later I took this snap, of the appendages of a slightly less superheroic figure:

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The South Bank of the River Thames abounds with people dressed up in strange costumes, soliciting money.  I say not so superheroic, but these figures do at least remain superheroically immobile.

Now that the weather has at last changed from wintry to springy, I am about to go out to take more snaps, and I wanted my blogging duties here done before all that.  And now they are.

Tuesday March 29 2016

Last night I dined at the new and rather temporary home of Samizdata, where I took this photo:

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Click on this to get it larger.

These really are very tasty crisps, and I strongly recommend them.  I immediately decided that I would try to serve some of these at future iterations of my last-Friday-of-the-month meetings.  So, I took a note of these chips, with my camera.

When I pondered the impact of digital photography, way back when that was, this ability to photo not only mere prettiness, but also information, loomed large.

I mentioned how my friend Simon Gibbs and his workmates all use their smartphones to photo the mass scribblings on a whiteboard after a brainstorming session.  The man making the thumbs-up sign in the above photo told me about a new app that he now uses at work which takes a picture like the ones Simon and his pals take, and smartens it up, so to speak.  It translates handwriting, that is to say, into proper computer text (presumably computer text you can scan), and arranges everything more neatly and more readably.  Impressive.  And I’m guessing that the existence both of smartphones taking photos, and of apps like this that can make even more sense of such photos, changes what gets written on the whiteboard, now that more coherent text will be better recorded and processed.  I’m guessing that handwriting improves somewhat.  But does this app, I wonder, subtract somewhat from the informality of the process?  And might that undermine creativity?

I wonder what this app would have done with my Tyrrell’s veg crisps photo.

I photoed Mr Thumbs-Up’s smartphone, where the logo for this app was to be seen, but alas, the smart-focussing in my camera was not smart enough to focus on this image.  It was all a blur:

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There’s no point in me showing you a larger version of that, is there?  How sad that my photo-note of an app for processing photo-notes should be so useless.

I should have included more stuff off screen for my camera to focus on.  As I later discovered when I took some other photos off of his smarphone, of how my blog looked on his smartphone.  Those photos came out better.  But that’s for another posting.

Monday March 28 2016

Indeed.  The old Eurostar Terminal at Waterloo is finally coming back to life again, for boring rush hour services, but life.

Until late in 2007, Eurostar trains used to come and go from the new station they built at Waterloo for that exact purpose.  But then they shut the place, and the Eurostars operated from St Pancras instead.  Since 2007, the Waterloo Eurostar terminal has been a corpse.

After much searching, I managed to dig up a photo I took in 2007 of some Eurostar snouts poking out of the Waterloo terminal, just before it died:

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Once again, we see Century House in the background of a photo here that is basically of something else.  The previous posting in which this happened is here, at which there is a brief explanatory comment about Century House’s history.  Spooks, basically.  Now just flats.

Even older Waterloo Eurostar photos can be viewed here, posted here in 2013, but taken in 2003.  I also just re-listened to a conversation involving Patrick Crozier, Michael Jennings, Rob Fisher and me, about the new St Pancras, which we all liked a lot, and presumably still like a lot.

Sunday March 27 2016

Or: Spoughts thoughts?  You choose.

Sport (spought) has been good to me of late.  Last summer, England won the Ashes.  My local cricket team, Surrey, got promoted to division one, and also got to the final of the fifty overs county knock-out tournament.  England then defeated South Africa in South Africa.  England (a different England but still England) won the Six Nations rugby Grand Slam.  And now (back to cricket again) England have got to the last four of the twenty overs slog competition, alongside the Windies, India and New Zealand.  Few expect England to win this.  But then, few expected England to get to the last four.  No South Africa (beaten amazingly by England).  No Australia (beaten today by India (aka Virat Kholi)).  No Pakistan or Sri Lanka.  But: England still involved.

Concerning the Grand Slam, the best thing about it was England winning all its games, but otherwise it was … a bit crap.  The recently concluded World Cup, in which England did rather less well loomed too large over it.  The World Cup featured no Six Nations sides in its last four, and when watching our local lads stressing and straining against each other you couldn’t help (a) thinking that the Southern Hemispherians would murder them, and (b) that a lot of the best Six Nations players seemed to be Southern Hemispherians themselves.  I mean, what kind of rugby world are we living in when the most threatening French back is called Scott Spedding and was born in Krugersdorp, South Africa?

The Six Nations was worth it just to hear Jonathan Davies, a man whose commentating I have had reason to criticise in the past, say that a certain game is “crucial”, and that Wales have “matured”:

curry-yoosh-ull

mat-yoo-ard

As for the twenty-twenty slogfest now in full slog, well, I have been rooting for England (England’s best batsman being a bloke called Root), but also for Afghanistan.  You might think that as a devout anti-Islamist, which I definitely am, I would be rooting for the Muslim teams to lose.  But actually, I think sport is one of the leading antidotes to Islamo-nuttery, and it is my understanding that the Islamo-nutters regard sport and sports-nuttery not as an expression of Islamo-nuttery, but rather, as a threat to it.  Sports nuttery ultimately causes fellowship with the infidels rather than hatred of them, underneath all the youthful antagonisms which it does indeed inflame.  It’s hard not to get pally with people when you play or follow games with them and against them, especially as you get older, and remember previous hostilities with fondness rather than anger.

So, in short: go Afghanistan!  The Afghanistan twenty-twenty cricket team, I mean.  Afghanistan gave England a hell of a fright and nearly beat them.  And yesterday, they actually did beat the West Indies, even though it didn’t count for so much because the Windies had already got through to the semis and the Afghans would be going home now no matter what.  But, even so, beating the Windies was a big deal, and the cricket world will have noticed, big time.

Here is Cricinfo, at the moment of Afghan triumph:

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I love it when a T20 game really boils up, and they put “dot ball” in bold letters, the way they usually only write “OUT” and “FOUR” and “SIX” and “dropped”, or, as in this case, “an amazing, brave, brilliant running catch!”

And soon after that climax to the game, came this:

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Chris Gayle is quite a character.  Having scored a brilliant century against England that won the Windies that match and put England in the position of having to win everything from then on, his commitment to the West Indian cause is not in doubt, as it might have been had he celebrated like this with the Afghans without having done any other notable things in this tournament.  He has quarrelled with West Indian cricket bureaucrats over the years, and has definitely seemed to have like playing for the Bangalore Royal Challengers more than for the West Indies.

His demeanour after today’s Afghan game is in sharp contrast to his lordly impassivity after taking the wicket of David Miller of South Africa, which reduced South Africa to 47-5, a predicament from which they failed to recover

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One of the delights of virtually following this tournament is that it has been possible to watch little videos of dramatic moments, like the one of Gayle taking this wicket and then not celebrating very much.  The graphic additions to this posting are merely screen captures.  Clicking on them accomplishes nothing.  But if you go to the original commentary from which I took my graphics, you can click on the little black video prompts, and get a little video of the drama just described.

Also: Happy Easter.

Saturday March 26 2016

On the left, cause ...:

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... and on the right, effect.  Photos taken just before Christmas.

It’s been a busy day.

Friday March 25 2016

Guido links to a piece in GQ about Seumas Milne, and Guido picks out this bit:

Former colleagues reveal how, despite his slight figure, Milne had a remarkable habit of refusing to give way in corridors. Over several years, his fellow journalists grew tired of his insistence that oncoming co-workers make way for him. Eventually, one snapped, telling his desk, “I’m not going to do it again. Next time he plays chicken with me, I’m not going to get out of the way.” The whole office waited for the inevitable confrontation. Soon enough, it happened. As Milne walked down a corridor, the six-foot colleague approached from the other direction. They smashed into each other, sending Milne flying, along with the papers he was carrying. “Seumas was in shock,” recalls an onlooker. “No one had ever done that to him before. He expected people to show deference to him.

I still remember a collision of this sort, half a century ago now, that I once inflicted upon an equally impolite person, when we were both at Marlborough.  The IP was in the habit of pulling rank on me when we were walking in opposite directions along a certain very narrow footpath, the IP making no effort whatsoever to in any way get out of my way, me having to do all the avoiding.  So, one day, I didn’t do any avoiding, and me being shorter than him, I walked my head straight into his chin.  I knew the collision was coming but he didn’t, so he got the worst of it.  Nothing he could say or do, no matter how vehement, was going to change the fact that he got what he deserved and that we both knew it.

It’s amazing how much of the trouble in the world is caused by male human animals disagreeing with one another about their relative importance in the world.

Thursday March 24 2016

There is, as I write, deep joy, a crane in operation, right outside my kitchen window.  I can see it now, lifting steel girders onto the roof of a building that is being revamped, from an office into flats, across the yard from me.

Yesterday, I did something I haven’t done for a while, which is I attempted to get onto the roof of my block of flats.  I succeeded.  More deep joy.  The door was unlocked.

Here is a picture I took of the crane, yesterday afternoon, just as it was folding itself up after its day’s work.  The men in yellow had finished their work also, and the crane was about to descend back into the street whence it came:

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I have not seen this process before, which is so central to how these things operate.  It is not enough that they must be able to do their job, of lifting up things like girders and depositing them accurately into the midst of a building.  At least some of them have to be able to hoist themselves up, and unhoist themselves down again afterwards.  I mean, if you could only ever erect a crane with the help of another crane, where would it end?

A crane like the one in the last of these pictures that I showed here last Sunday, is another crane of the sort that can raise itself up off a lorry and immediately start work, and it is pretty clear just from looking at it approximately how it does this, even if its internal workings are slightly mysterious.  But the manner in which the above crane operates isn’t quite so obvious.  You need to see it to really appreciate it.  And now I have.

I’m not exactly sure which it was of the cranes here that I saw in action, but that is definitely the website of the crane hire enterprise concerned.

Kudos to the Real Photographer who contrived to photo an airship in a way that has surely gone viral already:

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Indeed.

More seriously:

The applications for the plane are broad, such as transporting cargo, performing surveillance operations, or simply to carrying super-rich tourists through the skies over London.  The Guardian reports that two potential uses are monitoring refugees crossing the Mediterranean and acting as a mobile communications network at large sporting events.

A blimp.  Can someone tell me how it differs from the blimps that we see already?

First customers, according to the Guardian, will be people like oil sheikhs.  I suppose the dream is that the a sector of the more-money-than-sense super-rich will each want one, the way they now want a yacht.

Wednesday March 23 2016

I did an earlier posting about some birds I had spied on a walk with GD1, and 6k identified them:

I can help with bird identification!

Your ducks are red-crested pochards (a female and a male), ...

Pochards?  You made that up mate.  Well, no.  But, first I’d heard of it.

… while your ibises are African Sacred Ibis, which are regular visitors to our local dumps and beaches, scavenging what they can, where they can.

Sacred Ibis?  More like profane.

I actually came across some on my walk this this weekend.  While they may be ugly on the ground, they can be beautiful in flight.

I can confirm that these Ibis, Ibises, Ibes, Ibix, whatever, look good in the air, because on that same trip, moments after taking the shot I showed in that earlier posting, of two Ibi squatting on a horizontal tube, I got a shot of one of them flying.  Inside their cage, yes, but still flying.  And suddenly, a squat little pre-war propeller driven failure of an aircraft turned into a post-war jet bomber:

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Let’s have a closer look at that:

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Profane on the ground, but sacred in the air.

Tuesday March 22 2016

Do you want your clothes theatrically drycleaned?  Here is the enterprise you’ve been looking for:

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Throughout our 50 years’ experience within the dry cleaning industry we have gained a wealth of knowledge and understanding of the effects that various solvents on different types of fabrics, paints, stage bloods, beading, sequins and trimmings allowing us the achieve the very best results for our wardrobe departments.

Van photoed by me in Tottenham Court Road last September, just minutes before I photoed this old American car.  I am becoming increasingly interested in photoing vehicles.  It’s not just taxis, and the vans don’t even have to be white.

As you can perhaps tell, today, it is nearly tomorrow.  I have been doing a lot less of that lately, but today I did.

Monday March 21 2016

Amazing:

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One of the very best The Wires! photos that Dezeen has ever published.

Seoul-based ThePlus Architects was tasked with accommodating all of these activities within a heavily restricted site in Seogyo-dong, measuring six metres across and 10 metres deep, and flanked by taller buildings on three sides.

Here is another picture of the same building, from the same report:

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The Wires! are, as is usual, not mentioned in the text of the report.  But the photographer is, I think, intensely aware of The Wires!  In the first picture he searches out a rare shot in which The Wires! don’t interrupt the starkly white modernity of the building’s exterior.  And in this second shot, where there are far fewer of The Wires!, he deliberately lines up the roof of the building with some of The Wires! that remain.

But that alignment is not merely something he saw.  It is almost as if it is part of the design.  It’s almost as if the building has been designed, not just to stay out of the way of The Wires!, but to include The Wires! in the overall composition.

But, as I say, no mention of any of that in the text of the piece.

Question: Once The Wires! are installed in this or that particular place, are they likely subsequently to change very much?  For my surmise to make sense, it would need to be that once The Wires! are in place, there tend to remain in the same place.

Sunday March 20 2016

Last Thursday, I said I would be checking out the Big Olympic Thing, and I did.  The expedition was very satisfactory.  I got there.  I purchased, from a human, a one-year season ticket for a tenner.  I ascended to the top.  I took photos.  I came home again.  And I shall return to the B(ig) O(lympic) T(hing) and take better photos, from it if not of it, or at any rate different photos (see below).

First sighting of the BOT, as I emerged from the Westfield Shopping Centre:

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Scaffolding, good.  Trees mostly without leaves, good.

I still wasn’t sure how to get there exactly, but I was, as the sportsmen say, in the right areas.  I asked around, and found my way, and while on my way photoed this part of a bigger map, concentrating on the area I was in at the time:

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My destination is described on this map as “Arcelormittal Orbit”.  It’ll never catch on.

Photoing maps when on photo-expeditions is very good, especially if the map says “you are here”, somewhere in it, which alas this one does not.  Even so, this map shows where I went pretty well.

I started at the DLR station, in the clump of transport signs to the far right.  I went through the pale blue expanse that is the Westfield shopping centre, along “The Street”, and then along “Stratford Walk”.  Then I emerged into the open and negotiated my way past the “International Quarter”, following that big red arrow that points towards the stadium, and by then it was pretty clear.

Neither the area around the BOT nor the BOT itself is finished.  There is a notable lack of any enterprise selling food or drink, and the whole place now has the air of a holding operation.

Here, for instance, was the seething mass of humanity with whom I competed for space on the lift to the top of the BOT:

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Next, I’m looking out through the top of the BOT to the Big Things of the middle of London, which as you can see are actually quite a way away.  Below is the Olympic Stadium:

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I took closer-up shots, of course, of which this is my favourite:

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The reason this shot is my favourite is that it aligns two Things you don’t often see aligned, namely the towers of Tower Bridge and, right behind them, the three-eyed Thing that is the Strata.  At the time I thought I was photoing only the Strata.  It turns out I was photoing an Alignment of the sort I so much like, but by mistake.  I love it when that happens.

6k, in a comment on my earlier BOT posting, asked about The Slide.  He’s talking about this, which is a graphic I saw at tht top of the BOT just as I was leaving.  I left in rather a hurry because the BOT was closing, hence the rather sloppy nature of this snap:

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But, as I often like to say about my pictures, you get the picture.  That is what The Slide is going to look like.  More about that in the Dezeen posting about the BOT Slide that 6k kindly linked to.

6k asked if The Slide is finished yet.  Answer: It has hardly started.  Not started at all in any way you’d notice.  See the next picture but one below.

Meanwhile here is another graphic that I photoed, at the bottom of the BOT, on the outside:

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What we see there is how the view from the top of the BOT looks when the sun is off to the side rather than straight ahead, as the sun was in all of my photos of those Big Things.  And when a Real Photographer is on the job.

Memo-to-self: Some time quite soon, I shall be consulting the weather forecast and making a trip out to the BOT again, in the morning.

Second-to-last shot, showing the total absence so far of any Slide action, and the Olympic Stadium, soon to be occupied by West Ham United:

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Note once again the insane competition from massed humans for the facilities on offer.  Not.

I will end with a shot of the BOT and a crane, snapped from just outside Pudding Mill Lane DLR, which is one of my favourite DLR stops if only because of its name.  This makes the point yet again that this whole area is very much work in progress rather than finished.  The Slide is yet to come, as is a lot of other stuff:

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See the very bottom of the map snap above for the location of Pudding Mill Lane.  As you can see from that snap, even despite its truncatedness, there is a lot of Olympicness for me to explore that I did not explore on this particular expedition.  Like I say, I shall return.

Saturday March 19 2016

Bright sunlight on a basically rather dull day can make the most commonplace objects seem heavenly.  But when a shaft of sunlight slashed across Cape Town earlier in the week, it hit a big container ship and a flock of container cranes, who ended up looking like a herd of giraffes.  Amazing.  And crying out to be horizontalised:

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I was saving that for yesterday, because yesterday was Friday and my day for animals (the more bizarre the better).  But come yesterday, I forgot.

Too good to delay, too good to ignore.

Friday March 18 2016

Yesterday I duly climbed to the top of the Big Olympic Thing, but today I want to show you some creature pictures.  Having decided to broaden Fridays out from mere cats, to any non-human living thing, I have been wandering through my photo-archives with half an eye for any nice looking non-human photos.

Here are a couple of snaps I particular liked:

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These were both taken on a photo-walk that I and G(od)D(aughter) One did in May of 2011.  We spent the day walking along Regent’s Canal.  I did a couple of postings about this walk at the time, but took many more good snaps than that.

The two birds above are occupants of the Snowdon Aviary.  At the end of that link it says that this Aviary contains some “white ibis”, ibis being, apparently, the plural of ibis.  Are those things ibis?  Could be.  I’m hopeless at which brand of bird is which.

The sign, which actually includes a cat, is over an entrance to the footpath beside the canal, from the road.  I think.  You walk under it, I’m pretty sure.

Strangely, if my photos of the day are anything to go by, we didn’t see many swimming birds that day, in the actual canal.  But when we got to Paddington Basin we saw a few.

I often try to photo such birds, but only rarely come away with anything that strikes me as very interesting.  The world is, after all, full of extremely Real Photogaphers who like to photo birds.  So, what can I add to all that?

These two birds are maybe a bit nice, if not actually what you’d call interesting. The feathers on the one on the left have come out quite well.  And the one on the right has an interesting (because pink) beak, which doesn’t look normal to me:

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GD1 and I don’t talk much on these walks.  We each tend to concentrate on our own photoing.  I occasionally photo her from a distance though, with other interesting things (such as bridges) in the background.  And occasionally, she photos me:

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I like how, in the picture of GD1 photoing me, there is another photographer operating, in the background, on the left as we look.

Thursday March 17 2016

Getting properly out and about again after my winter hibernation, as I did earlier this week to Victoria Park (it’s easier to scroll down past yesterday’s Gulf Stream posting than to follow those links), reminded me that there are other major viewing spots in London I have yet to check out.

Such as, for instance, this Big Thing:

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I have photoed this Thing many times, but have yet to actually visit the Thing.

Yes it’s Anish Kapoor’s Big Olympic Thing.  Now that all the Olympic fuss has died down, and most of the people who fancied visiting this Thing have visited it, and they’ve finally finished making it as good a Thing as they can, getting into this Thing and up this Thing and to the top of this Thing may finally be a buyer’s market, rather than a hell of queueing and crowding and barging.  I tried the website, to see if I could buy a ticket remotely.  But as so often with me, I couldn’t make it work.  So, I will go there this afternoon, and see if I can buy some kind of ticket, from a person.  If that doesn’t work, then I think I recall seeing a phone number I could ring.  I also seem to recall the webiste mentioning an Old Git season ticket for an entire year that costs hardly more than a single visit.  That would be great.  I do love to go back to places, after I have looked at the first lot of photos and worked out what I was actually photoing.

Whether they will sell me a ticket face-to-face or not, I will still get to check out the fascist expanses of the Olympic Park, or whatever it is they call the big pointless spaces outside the Olympic Stadium.

Part of the top of which is visible in the above photo, which I took from the footbridge at Hackney Wick Overground Station, on my recent trip.

Wednesday March 16 2016

I am reading Steven Johnson’s book, The Invention of Air, which is about the life and career of Joseph Priestley.

Early on (pp. 10-12) there is a delightful bit concerning Benjamin Franklin, and his early investigations into the Gulf Stream:

In 1769, the Customs Board in Boston made a formal complaint to the British Treasury about the speed of letters arriving from England.  (Indeed, regular transatlantic correspondents had long noticed that letters posted from America to Europe tended to arrive more promptly than letters sent the other direction.) As luck would have it, the deputy postmaster general for North America was in London when the complaint arrived - and so the British authorities brought the issue to his attention, in the hope that he might have an explanation for the lag.  They were lucky in another respect: the postmaster in question happened to be Benjamin Franklin.

Franklin would ultimately turn that postal mystery into one of the great scientific breakthroughs of his career: a turning point in our visualization of the macro patterns formed by ocean currents.  Franklin was well prepared for the task.  As a twenty-year-old, traveling back from his first voyage to London in 1726, he had recorded notes in his journal about the strange prevalence of “gulph weed” in the waters of the North Atlantic.  In a letter written twenty years later he had remarked on the slower passage westward across the Atlantic, though at the time he supposed it was attributable to the rotation of the Earth.  In a 1762 letter he alluded to the way “the waters mov’d away from the North American Coast towards the coasts of Spain and Africa, whence they get again into the Power of the Trade Winds, and continue the Circulation.” He called that flow the “gulph stream.”

When the British Treasury came to him with the complaint about the unreliable mail delivery schedules, Franklin was quick to suspect that the “gulph stream” would prove to be the culprit.  He consulted with a seasoned New England mariner, Timothy Folger, and together they prepared a map of the Gulf Stream’s entire path, hoping that “such Chart and directions may be of use to our Packets in Shortning their Voyages.” The Folger/Franklin map ...

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… was the first known chart to show the full trajectory of the Gulf Stream across the Atlantic. But the map was based on anecdotal evidence, mostly drawn from the experience of New England-based whalers.  And so in his voyage from England back to America in 1775, Franklin took detailed measurements of water temperatures along the way, and detected a wide but shallow river of warm water, often carrying those telltale weeds from tropical regions.  “I find that it is always warmer than the sea on each side of it, and that it does not sparkle in the night,” he wrote.  In 1785, at the ripe old age of seventy-nine, he sent a long paper that included his data and the Iolger map to the French scientist Alphonsus le Roy.  Franklin’s paper on “sundry Maritime Observations,” as he modestly called it, delivered the first empirical proof of the Gulf Stream’s existence.

I added that map in the middle of that quote, which I found here.  (I love the internet.)

Until now, I knew nothing of this Gulf Stream story.  The reason I knew nothing of this Gulf Stream story is that I know very little about eighteenth century history of any sort.  This book by Johnson looks like it will be a pain-free way to start correcting that.

Tuesday March 15 2016

One of the best things to have happened for the Old Gits of London tendency lately has been the arrival of those count-down signs which tell you how many more seconds you have to cross the road before the traffic lights change.  I love these.  (More about them here.)

So anyway, this was almost the last photo I took last night, after visiting Victoria Park:

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As so often with my photos, I did not know at the time what I was photoing.  What I thought I was photoing was a rather cheesy sunset outside Mile End Tube Station.  But it turns out that I was photoing a cheesy sunset outside Mile End Tube Station, and one of these count-down signs.  That “02” came out brilliantly, did it not?  No cropping, to make the 02 more central.  There it was, right in the middle, in a pleasing yellow that contrasts nicely with the cheesy pink.  Yeah, yeah, cheese is yellow not pink, so it’s the 02 that’s cheesy.  Whatever.  You get the picture.

Anyway, the plan is to post, once I have acquired them, a set of ten photos, featuring each number, of ten different signs, with entertainingly varied London backgrounds.  I promise nothing, you understand, but I have found that these memo-to-self postings can work rather well.

Monday March 14 2016

After deciding yesterday evening to go, today, south of the river, to Kennington Park, I then changed my mind and decided to check out Victoria Park instead.  Nearest station: Hackney Wick Overground.  So, north of the river.

But, same question: Could Big Things been seen from the park?

Here’s the answer:

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Notice how very much better this photo is than it would have been if taken in July.  It would then have been nothing but leaves.  I think I see some leaves, even in this photo, evergreen leaves, attached to the tree on the right as we look.  But there was, today, nothing like the visual ruination that will engulf everything in a few months time, turning intricately pleasing urban-rural counterpoint into a big old smudge of rural tedium.

I must make use of this magic moment in the calendar, warm enough to be out in, but not smothered in leaves.

I saw many other pleasing things today, but for today, that will have to suffice.

Sunday March 13 2016

The weather over the weekend has been excellent, but I have been stuck indoors watching the Six Nations, which England have just won, even though there’s a still another weekend to go, thanks to Scotland beating France today.

I nearly went out today, despite the rugby, which I could have watched the recording of instead of watching it live.  But this ...:

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... which is the London weather forecast for tomorrow, persuaded me to postpone going out until tomorrow, since the weather tomorrow is also going to be good.  Weather forecasts this near to the actual time they forecast are always accurate.

But, where to go.  I am fast running out of new places in London to visit.  I know that this is not true, but - rather bizarrely - that is how it now feels to me.  And in order to make a proper early start, I need a predetermined destination to get me going.  But, which destination?  Memo to self: before bed tonight, I need to have fixed on something enticing.

What I am already thinking about is to go south, on foot.  Across Vauxhall Bridge, maybe, but then, instead of going somewhere from Vauxhall Station, or walking along beside the river, I have in mind to go onwards, inland, in a south-westerly direction.  What is Kennington Park?  Can Big Things be seen from that?  Time to find out.  Then maybe wander in the general direction of the City, towards the Big Things.

Important.  The mobile phone needs to be powered up, because I will need to know where I am at all times.

Saturday March 12 2016

I am a collector, and a way for me to satisfy this itch without taking up too much physical space is to collect not particular things, but photos of particular things.  I collect such photos by finding them in the big wide world, mostly the London bit.  But I also find such photos in my already vast but mostly very incoherent collections of photos that I have already taken, stored on my hard disk in directories with titles like “Misc(51)Aug2011”.

Typically, I start collecting a particular sort of photo even before I realise that I am doing it.

Rather recently, for instance, I have started noticing footbridges in a big way, conscious that I am doing this.  But in truth, I have always been entertained by footbridges, especially urban footbridges that join buildings together, and have long been photoing them.  But the tendency has been, after photoing such a bridge, to forget about it, and to move on immediately to the next photo-op.

Today, while clicking away pretty much at random among my many photo-directories, I came across this photo, in Misc(51)Aug2011:

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That particular footbridge connects the back of the Coward Theatre with the back of the Wyndham’s Theatre.  I know this because immediately after taking the above photo of the footbridge, taken at 19:58pm, I took the following two snaps, also taken at 19:58pm:

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If you look carefully in the footbridge photo, you can see both of these signs, which are on opposite sides of St Martin’s Court, near Leicester Square, in London’s Theatreland.  What exactly is transported across this bridge - scenery?, props?, actors? - I do not know.  Cleverer and more determined googlers than I could perhaps quickly learn.  That these two signs match suggests quite a lot of cooperation, that has been going on for quite a while.  Common ownership, perhaps?  Sorry about the Wyndham’s photo being so blurry.  What matters is that it is legible.

As time passes, I will spend less time out and about taking yet more photos.  One of the things I hope then to be doing instead is rootling through my existing photo-collections, collecting, e.g. all the photos I have already taken of footbridges, and putting them into one giant directory, of footbridges, and then showing them here, and thinking about them aloud.

Friday March 11 2016

Well, the New Year (even though the New Year is actually getting quite old now) Resolution here, to blog early, and sometimes even to blog often, is working well.  I haven’t delayed going to bed because of this blog for about a week, and I sense that this may even continue.

Friday is my day for cats, and now also for other creatures, and already this Friday, even though it not yet even the middle of the day, there has already been a posting here about dogs.  Republican dogs.  That posting is right below this one, but there’s the link anyway.

And here now is another creature posting, about a truly unique other creature - half cat, yes, but also half dog, half bee, half zebra, and wholly suitcase - of the sort that kids can ride, at airports, to stop them getting bored:

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Apparently Trunki made the first of these, and then some Hong Kong guys did a cheaper knock-off, and Trunki complained.  Trunki lost.

These cases - the physical (suit)case and the legal case - illustrate the fine line that divides a design from an idea:

But five Supreme Court justices unanimously disagreed, and ruled in favour of PMS on Wednesday – stating that while it had “sympathy for Magmatic”, the “Design Right is intended to protect designs not ideas”.

It looks a lot like a design being copied to me.  Not that I mind.  And actually, I think the Hong Kong version is better, because the original can’t make up its mind whether its eyes are eyes or horns.  HK case resolves this by having eyes and horns.

PMS website: here.

I learned a lot (big thank you to the invaluable Guido Seen Elsewhere section) from Leslie Loftis about why the sort of person who likes him likes Ted Cruz:

The stubbornness against Cruz is personal. We are fellow Houstonians. I know many people who have worked with him and many more who know someone who has. I’ve followed his career since late 2010 when my husband asked me to look into a lawyer named Ted Cruz, former solicitor general. Word in the Texas lawyer circles was that he wanted to challenge Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst for retiring Kay Bailey Hutchinson’s Senate seat. It was an impossible task according to the conventional wisdom. But many of the grassroots conservatives were tired of the party’s conventional wisdom.

Cruz covered every county in Texas, and he won votes with every hand he shook. People liked his ideas, and they liked him. He went from two per cent name recognition to an early call and huge victory in the Republican primary. (In Texas, that is the election.) I was there, and I liked what I saw.

But that is the people. And his staff. They are loyal. Intellectuals and party players, and the friends of those intellectuals and party players, however, sound like George W. Bush, “I just don’t like that guy.”

I’ve asked for substantive objections. They don’t come. Even the personality objections lack details. “Not nice.” Stories like mine about the kiss or videos of a dad taking a moment to airplane with his daughter, those don’t get air.

I’ve come to the same conclusion as this citizen journalist, “I believe what these elitists hate the most is that they feel that Ted Cruz looks down on them. Ted Cruz doesn’t respect them because they have money, or because they went to Harvard, or because they are men of power. Ted Cruz is motivated by principle, not class. Ted Cruz has a political agenda and a love of constitution that overrules loyalty to his Ivy League brethren.”

For the egos of his Ivy League brethren and their friends, we are jeopardising our Republic. Because they “just don’t like that guy”, we risk nominating the fickle and hardly likeable Donald Trump for president and actually electing the conniving Hillary Clinton. The American experiment is at stake, and our elites are pouting that the man rising to lead is not their kind of guy.

True, he is not. And that is why the people like him.

All of which only serves to flesh out some of things said by Tom Grey in a comment he recently attached to my earlier Cruz piece.

In my opinion, an amazing proportion of the trouble in the world is caused by men - mostly it is men - disagreeing about their relative importance in the world.  The GOP’s top dogs think they are topper dogs than young whippersnapper Cruz, but Cruz does not acknowledge this, because he’s a whippersnapper.  Which is why the voters like Ted Cruz and why the GOP elite hate Ted Cruz.

It’s now looking like Cruz may be the Sun Tzuist, rather than Trump.  And it looks as though the long-term significance of the Trump phenomenon may be that he is clearing the path for Cruz, by making a sufficient number of Republicans like Cruz, simply because he is not Trump.  More probably, there is no Sun Tzu happening here.  This is just how it happens to be turning out.

More anti-Trumpery here.  Summary: Trump won’t stand up to detailed scrutiny.  For starters, he ain’t nearly as rich as he pretends.

All of which is great for people like me and Tom Grey, who like Cruz because he is Cruz.

On the other hand … Trumpophrenia strikes again.

Thursday March 10 2016

I like to photo the covers of newspapers and magazines.  Such snaps can be very evocative, when looking back at them.

One of the more memorable of such snaps recently was this:

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The whole Brexit argument seems to be turning into a clash of pessimisms.  Which would be more ghastly?  Britain staying in or Britain getting out? 

Here is a piece that argues that Brexit would be ghastly, for the EU.  As well as all the hoo-hah about refugees, there’s also the little matter of the EU economy collapsing.  If Brexit happens, so might that.

So, will the Remainiacs argue, come the Referendum, that we must stay in, to save EUrope?  Could be.  The argument will be: if we leave, that will wreck EUrope, and that will wreck Britain.

And the Leavers will say: well, if EUrope is a wreck waiting to happen, we’d do better to get out.  Whatever happens, the immediate future looks terrible.  If we get out, at least we could then look toward our own longer term future with a bit of optimism.  We will save ourselves by our exertions, and then EUrope by our example, bascially by turning EUrope back into Europe.  Brexit will be like Dunkirk.

There has for some time now, I think, been a breed of “national” politician – Cameron and Osborne are such – whose first loyalty is to the global elite and to such enterprises as the EU, rather than to their own mere countries.  They are not really our leaders anymore.  They are more like District Commissioners for The Empire.

Personally, I do not oppose The Empire just because it is an Empire.  I oppose The Empire, now, because I don’t think the Imperialists are running it very well.  And I favour Brexit now both because I think that, on balance, Brexit will be better for Britain, and because the Imperialists need a good kick up the bum.  More politely, I think these people should stop being so “anti-patriotic”.  They need to stop regarding patriotism as their enemy.

More exactly and less windily, the Imperialists also need to follow better financial policies.  I think they are more likely to do this if Britain competes with EUrope than if Britain is a province of EUrope.  And what might these policies be?  Well, the world needs competing currencies, both because the best of these will be quite good, and because they will stir the world’s fiat currencies into being better.  That’s more likely to happen if the world consists of a looser affiliation of semi-sovereign states than a tight Empire of provinces, ruled unchallengeably by Cameron, Osborne, and their gaggle of rich, powerful, and actually somewhat stupid, friends.

Wednesday March 09 2016

imageI am continually on the photographic look-out for many things, more and more things as my photographic activities have continued.  Two of these things are: rather surprising selfies, usually reflected in something not completely obvious, like a motorbike or someone else’s sunglasses, or perhaps pictured on someone else’s camera; and: ways of taking photos of people without showing their faces, such as with their face hidden behind a camera, or behind a scarf worn over the face on a very cold day.

On a recent wander-around with G(od)D(aughter)2, I think I managed to combine these two preoccupations rather entertainingly.

On the right you can see the mirror that the photo was taken into.  Okay, a mirror.  Boring.  But not this mirror, because it was a mirror above us.  The building sporting this mirror is a recent and, I think, rather ungainly addition to Victoria Street, but the mirror is fun.  At least the jagged edge thing from which the building takes its name - “Zig Zag” - doesn’t cut into the pavement but instead hovers above it.

And below is how the two of us looked in this mirror:

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Click on that to get the bigger original, with more pavement.

The indispensable twiddly screen on my camera, enabling, this time, the screen to stay where it is, but the camera to be twiddled upwards, makes this kind of thing work rather well.

Tuesday March 08 2016

My photos of London contain may oddities, which I sometimes only notice later, and often only much later.

Take this photo, for instance, which was one of the first I took from the top of One New Change, on the second of two visits I made in the early summer of 2012, on May 22nd:

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I like it.  Big Ben, seen through the Wheel, the Wheel presumably being what I thought I was photoing at the time.  Outstanding roof clutter, right next to the Wheel.  The pleasingly eccentric Oxo House, slightly nearer to us.  Good stuff, albeit rather dimly lit.

But what about that big photo-within-the-photo, of what looks like the late Lord Mountbatten, standing next to a young man who looks vaguely like a young Prince Andrew, underneath where it says “Sea Containers House”?  What on earth is that about?

Image google “Mountbatten Sea Containters House”, and all quickly becomes clear.

The largest ever photograph of the Royal Family has been unveiled on a prominent South Bank building in the heart of the capital to celebrate the Queen’s upcoming Diamond Jubilee.

When finished, a day or two afte4r I took my photo, the complete photo on Sea Containers House looked like this:

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I caught the process of this photo being contrived at its very earliest stage.  And yes, that is a young Prince Andrew.

The only thing I remember about all that Jubilee fuss in 2012 is that, for some reason or other, I pretty much ignored it.  I think I may have watch the boats on the telly.  Had I paid more attention, it would have been obvious to me soon after I took my photo of that photo what had been going on.

Google is wonderful.  Also very sinister.  Very sinister because so wonderful.

Monday March 07 2016

Yes, I’ve been continuing to photo taxis with adverts.  Here are half a dozen of the most recent such snaps.

First up, further proof, if you need it, that the internet has not abolished television.  People still like to be passively entertained, surprise surprise.  But the internet is in the process of swallowing television, so that they end up being the same thing:

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Next, become an accountant!  Note how they include the word “taxi” in the advertised website, presumably to see whether advertising on taxis is worth it.  Note to LSBF: I have no plans to become an accountant.

Note also the Big Things picture of London, something I always like to show pictures of here, and note also how out of date this picture is.  No Cheesegrater, for a start:

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Next up, a taxi advertising a book. I do not remember seeing this before, although I’m sure it has happened before:

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Next, Discover America.  I thought it already had been:

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Visit a beach.  I didn’t crop this photo at all, because I like how I tracked the taxi and its advert, and got the background all blurry, and I want you to see all that blurriness.  Nice contrast between that and the bright colours of the advert.  A little bit of summer in the grey old February of London:

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Finally, a snap I took last night, in the Earls Court area.  And now we’re back in the exciting world of accountancy, this time in the form of its Beautiful accounting software:

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As you can see, it was pitch dark by the time I took this.  But give my Lumix FZ200 even a sliver of artificial light and something solid to focus on, and it does okay, I think.  A decade ago, that photo would have been an unusable mess.

I am finding that taxi advertising changes very fast these days.  All of the above photos, apart from the one with the beaches, was of an advert I had not noticed before.

Which means that in future years, these taxi photos will have period value, because the adverts will have changed over and over again with the passing of only a handful of years.

Sunday March 06 2016

I recently said here that I was finding it to be a pleasure to be contemplating the rise and rise of Donald Trump, but I also said that it was a guilty pleasure, and I really meant that.  Mostly, the phrase “guilty pleasure” is used to describe a pleasure that is merely rather uncool, like liking Abba even before the gays did, which is exactly what I did because I liked them as soon as I first heard them win the Eurovision Song Contest, and this despite their absurd trousers.  But that’s not a “guilty pleasure”.  A guilty pleasure is when you enjoy something immoral, like Donald Trump and Donald Trump doing well.  There was never anything morally wrong about Abba, and I never felt in the slightest bit guilty about liking them.

The immorality of Donald Trump is that he is the living embodiment of crony capitalism, and crony capitalism is the problem, not the solution.  He might become a good President, but only if he turns over an entirely new leaf and starts believing in non-crony capitalism.  This is not impossible.  Having been one of these creatures himself, Trump may at least be able to spot other creatures of this genus, and he may decide that whereas being a crony-capitalist was good for him, a super-abundance of crony-capitalists is bad for America.

But why take the chance?  Just as likely is that Trump will carry right on being a crony-capitalist, this time by obliging all the other crony-capitalists with little slices of his Presidential power, and charging them each a fee.

Based on what little I know of him, Cruz seems like the least worst Presidential candidate with a serious chance of winning, and now it is starting to look as if he just might win.  I said in that earlier piece that Trump was going to walk it, but now it seems he might not even stagger it.  Cruz might win.  I have liked Cruz ever since I heard an interview someone did with him, during which Cruz revealed that he was enthusiastically pro the Constitution of the United States.  Wow, that’s subversive talk, of the kind that I personally like a lot.

Here is how a commenter ("Prince of Whitebread"), on the piece linked to above, puts it:

I would ask the Trump supporters why Trump continues to get press and airtime far in excess of the others.  Answer: Trump is the Candidate the MSM wants to face Hillary. The PajamaBoy Press soils their onesies every time they contemplate Ted Cruz debating Abuela Hillary. They know he’d destroy her with logic, facts, the Constitution, and her own gymnast principles.

“Abuela” is, I believe, the Spanish for Granny.

So, are the hoards of Trump enthusiasts now starting to agree with such anti-Trumpery, and to switch to the man that the establishment truly hates and truly fears?  Would Cruz winning the Republican nomination, and in due course the Presidency, be a non-guilty pleasure?  Or is he just another version of the establishment?  Is he terrible too?

LATER: Roger L. Simon:

Which leads me to the real topic: Trumpophrenia. I suffer from it and it’s only getting worse. I change my opinion about Donald almost every five minutes - and I can’t be the only one. There may be millions of us.

I am not alone.

Saturday March 05 2016

I enjoy books that consist of quite a lot of short biographies.  I feel that I learn a lot from such books, very quickly.  Which is why, when I recently, in a charity shop, came upon Brief Lives by W. F. Deedes, I snapped it up.  I particularly enjoyed this bit, where he describes the rise to prominence of Stanley Baldwin, my enjoyment being caused by having previously known nothing about how this had happened.

The turning point in his career came in April 1921 when at the age of fifty-four he was promoted to President of the Board of Trade in the coalition government under Lloyd George.  There were no great expectations of him among senior ministers but the House of Commons took a liking to his patience and good humour and felt they could trust him.  That element of trust counted, for in the autumn of 1922 strained relations within Lloyd George’s coalition came to breaking point.  The Liberal party was in tatters while the Conservatives were increasingly restless under Lloyd George, and divided about his value to them.  Baldwin had been tramping round Aix-les- Bains, his favourite holiday resort, brooding over his party’s future.  He decided that the Tories must detach themselves from Lloyd George and his wily ways, and return to responsible parliamentary government.  Behind this decision lay profound anxiety about the future of his party rather than promotion of himself.

Baldwin prepared his ground by consulting Conservative colleagues, though up to the last moment he did not know how some of them would respond.  As G. M. Young has observed, what Baldwin’s speech to Conservative backbenchers at the Carlton Club in 1922 did disclose, though not everyone realized it at the time, ‘was that this countrified business man, who seemed to have reached the Cabinet by accident, was the master, and the unequalled master, of a new eloquence: direct, conversational, monosyllabic: rising and falling without strain or effort, between the homeliest humour and the moving appeal.’ Baldwin’s simple earnestness carried the day.  The coalition broke up. Lloyd George resigned. The Conservatives won the 1922 election and Bonar Law, though a sick man, became Prime Minister and appointed Baldwin as his Chancellor of the Exchequer. However, any sense of triumph was soon dimmed by the task of negotiating settlement of the American debt. But Baldwin took a stride forward with his speech on the Address which closed with these words:

The English language is the richest in the world in mono-syllables.  Four words of one syllable each ... contain salvation for this country and the whole world, and they are Faith, Hope, Love and Work.  No Government in this country today which has not faith in the people, hope in the future, love for its fellow-men, and will not work and work, and work, will ever bring this country through into better days and better times, or will ever bring Europe through or the world through.

The House of Commons had not heard language like that for a long time. Baldwin followed this up with a Budget speech which was sound, entertaining and, some thought, brilliant.  He used his mastery of plain English as a key to the hearts of Members of Parliament - and many outside Parliament.

Baldwin spent a long time thinking over what he proposed to say, though speeches were usually delivered from rough notes, never a script.  I can remember watching him from the press gallery as he sat on the government front bench apparently idly browsing through the Order Paper while the House was engaged in business outside his area.  He did this to escape from his office, the telephone, the private secretaries, colleagues and visitors and thus earned a reputation for indolence.  But these spells in the Commons gave him a sensitive ear for other Members’ feelings, which is why some of his speeches caught their imagination.  They also gave him the chance to think things over quietly. These days the Prime Minister is expected to be perpetually in motion and action; he has no time to ruminate.  ‘My mind moves slowly,’ Baldwin sometimes remarked. What he then had to say was all the better for it.

He understood his countrymen, not merely those he associated with in business and politics, but the working man and woman; and, as many of his speeches showed, he had insight into their thoughts and aspirations. I once heard him speak at Ashridge, which was then a Conservative college.  The Morning Post had sent me there disguised as a student to report on whether the teaching was true blue.  Baldwin’s contribution was a bit of a ramble, but his earnest tone of voice drew you into what he was saying. I do not think I ever heard him utter a cliche.

So when ill health compelled Bonar Law to retire Baldwin was a serious contender for the premiership. His main rival was Lord Curzon, who, though Baldwin’s senior, was a controversial choice as it would mean a Prime Minister sitting in the House of Lords.  Baldwin also had his drawbacks: he was not well versed in foreign affairs nor greatly interested in them and he was not well known, partly because he disliked publicity.  Baldwin himself had doubts.  To a journalist who congratulated him on the steps of No. 10, the new Prime Minister replied, ‘I need your prayers rather.’ He took to a cherrywood pipe, wore the incongruous mix of a wing collar with a tweed jacket and waistcoat and took over a nation in a delicate state of health.

The war had played havoc with our overseas trade. Britain had not become, as Lloyd George had promised, a ‘land fit for heroes’; on the contrary, many of the heroes were out of work.  Baldwin took the plunge, dissolved Parliament and sought a mandate for protection. His miscalculation meant that the Tories lost but neither the Liberal nor Labour parties won outright.  Baldwin favoured giving Labour a chance to experience the trials of office and this came to pass. Today, his head would be on a charger for losing an election so soon after entering No. 10, but Baldwin had made his mark on his party and the country.  Even as a rather indifferent Leader of the Opposition he survived, and in little more than a year the Conservatives were back in office with a big majority and a mandate to govern from 1924 to 1929.

Friday March 04 2016

The quest for a quiet replacement of Concorde continues:

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That being a horizontalised crop from NASA’s latest pseudo-photo of how they think it might look.

All this is many years away from happening, and may very well just be NASA trying to convince the world that it is better for NASA to exist than not, which I severely doubt.

The ongoing sales pitch for all such imaginings is that these replacement-Concordes won’t go bang everywhere they go, thus causing them to be banned over land.

To me what is interesting about this plane, and the yearning for it, is that it illustrates yet again the importance of face-to-face meeting.  Just like the rest of us, very rich people feel the need, constantly, to meet face-to-face with each other and with any other people whom they wish to cajole, befriend, beenemy (new word), terrorise, charm, whateverise.  There is just no adequate substitute for getting close-up and personal.

If this wasn’t true, there would now be no cities, just a splurge of people, all spread out, living in cheap places, communicating electronically.  But is city life disappearing?  I think not.

Thursday March 03 2016

As soon as I did that first posting this morning, about blogging early, I was freed from any obligation – self-imposed, but still an obligation – to blog any more today.  At which point the idea of putting more up here, today, became fun, rather than any sort of chore.  Hence the next posting, the one immediately below this one.

This one is here mostly so I can have postings called “Blog early” and “Blog often” up here on the same day.

Earlier this evening I attended a Libertarian Home meeting, addressed by Tim Evans.

One definite improvement over previous LH meetings in the same venue is that on the blackboard behind the speaker, it said his name, rather than the names of lots of things you can eat.

So, behind Tim Evans, underneath where it says “Specials” it also, this evening, said “Tim Evans”:

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Better.  In particular, better than this:

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The speaker in that picture was Allum Bokhari, last August, and that picture of him is most unflattering.  Alas, this is the picture I took that night that best shows all that food.  Go here to see Allum Bokhari looking better, even if he is wearing headphones.  To hear him also, talking about the “censorship” (if that’s what it is) of the social media, by the social media.

So, the video of Tim Evans talking will look better, in this particular respect, than did earlier videos, of LH speakers in front of that blackboard.  You build an ideological movement one step at a time.  This was a small step, but a definite step.  Nice one.

Sadly, I am not so confident about the likely sound quality of any video that transpires.  Tim has a way of talking rather quietly when in a smallish room such as this one is, but the hinges of the door to the room had no such inhibitions and were squeaking something terrible, every time anyone came in or out, as happened quite often.  We shall see, and we shall hear.  Hope I’m wrong about that.

Blog buddy 6k recently did a posting about a Finnish word, “kalsarikännit”, which apparently means: “getting drunk alone at home, while wearing your underwear”.

I came across the big word in the title of this posting as a result of photoing a van, as it entered Victoria Street, on Tuesday:

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What got me photoing this van was not any long word on it, for there are none.  No, what got my attention was how amazingly posh this van looked.  Amazingly posh like one of those amazingly posh magazines about Design, two-thirds full of posh car, posh frock, posh watch and posh property adverts.  Goddaughter 1, if she sees this, will surely be delighted.  The market for aesthetically sophisticated architectural photography (which is what she mostly does for a living) has now spread to the sides of vans.

But what is BRS?  BRS.NL was a big clue.  Dutch, yes?  Yes.  Here’s the website.  I had a rootle around in it, and that was when I came across “Toegangsbeveiligingsproducten”.

Here is the original Dutch:

Het accent van de werkzaamheden van BRS Traffic Systems BV ligt op het ontwikkelen, produceren, installeren en onderhouden van toegangsbeveiligingsproducten zoals Xentry® Speedgates, Pevac® Traffic Blockers®, Pevac® Road Blockers, Pevac® Spike Barriers®, Pevac® Bollards, Xentry® Speeddoors en Pevac®Traps.

By the way, “van” is not the Dutch for a van.

The only translation of “toegangsbeveiligingsproducten” that I could coax out of the internet was the English translation of the above verbiage:

The emphasis of the work of BRS Traffic Systems BV is the development, production, installation and maintenance of access security as Xentry® Speedgates, Pevac® Traffic Blockers®, Pevac® Road Blockers, Pevac® Spike Barriers®, Pevac® Bollards, Xentry® Speed Doors, and Pevac®Traps.

So, “access security products”?  Fancy metal gates, in other words.  That’s not as good as “getting drunk alone at home, while wearing your underwear”, but I reckon “kalsarikännit” is not as impressive as “toegangsbeveiligingsproducten”.

Thank heavens for copy-and-paste.

German, I know, and Dutch, which I presume to be very similar, would seem to have this ability to construct infinitely long words, like good trains.  So perhaps this particular word is not that surprising.  But I like it.  I wonder if there is a single German, or Dutch, word for “a word that is in principle infinitely long, to which you can keep adding stuff for ever, like a goods train”.  Probably.  It could, that is to say, be devised.

I have found that if I write things down here, I tend to remember them, and think about about them.

This has worked when I needed to train myself to do searches for things, rather than just living in a perpetual state of ignorant curiosity, like you had to before the internet came along.  Being quite old and set in my ways when the internet arrived, I found adapting to the new reality rather hard.

If what I write down concerns something I have photoed and want to hot more of, then I tend to be more alert, having written about whatever it was, to further photo-ops along similar lines.

And now, I am hoping that if I write here about doing stuff here first thing, or nearly first thing, in the morning, that will make me more likely to do that.  That way, I won’t be scrabbling about, as I was last night, putting up any old rubbish here, to keep my one-a-day record here going, for however long it’s been going.  The big problem with that being that it keeps me awake at the exact time when I need to be getting to sleep and then getting up decently early the next morning, and have time to get my blogging here done nice and early.  I want the right sort of feedback loop rather than the wrong sort.

So much of success in life is habit, and I want to cultivate the habit of doing my self-imposed duty here nice and early in the day, so that the rest of the day then becomes freer for me to do more consequential things.  Late is better than nothing, but early would be much better, and when I do early it is much better.

Everyone says that the rule for these sorts of resolutions is to phrase them to yourself positively rather than negatively.  Say and picture what you want, rather than what you want to avoid.  If you say and picture what you want to avoid, your subconscious will see that picture, and do that, while not attending to the “don’t” bit, the subsconscious being strong with pictures but not so good with words and with weird abstractions like “avoid”.  Phrasing and picturing it positively means you are presenting to your subconscious the kind of picture you want your subconscious to take absorb and act upon.

And the reason everyone says all of that is because, if my experience is anything to go by, all of that is very true.  So here I am picturing what I want to do.  Not hard, since I am now doing that exact thing.

Wednesday March 02 2016

Photoed by me, when I visited Barcelona in the summer of 2005:

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This began like as an advert, but has mutated into Art.  It seems to be quite a big deal, over there in Barcelona.  My picture is of it supported by a structure which has since been replaced.

I have been a bit ill.  Still am, rather.  Hence this rather random posting, even by my random standards, and hence also the fact that although I tried to find out what this owl originally advertised, I pretty soon gave up.  Anyone?

I was going to put up a picture I took of the Sagrada Familia (the big spikey Gaudi cathedral), with cranes.  But the internet is full of pictures of the Sagrada Familia, without cranes, and also with cranes.

Tuesday March 01 2016

After writing, several times, about how hard it is to do this, I am finally getting used to being able to investigate any strange thing that I see in London, provided that the strange thing has some strange words on it, or better yet, a strange website.

So, this afternoon, I saw this, on the front of a bus, in Whitehall:

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And here is what that is about:

Capture the heart of the city’s culture. landmarks and history on our London Routemaster bus, whilst sipping on a lovely cup of tea and enjoying the exquisite tastes of France. High tea accompanied with an array of tasty sandwiches and delicious cakes and pastries. Your uniformed London bus driver will take you round The London Eye, Big Ben, The Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, St James’s Park, Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park, The Royal Albert Hall, Marble Arch, Piccadilly Circus, Nelson’s Column, Downing Street and more.

Adults “from” £45.  And I bet all they do is point at these various Things, and talk.  There’s no way they let you out to actually explore them.  That would take too long.  So, pass.  I reckon I could go by train to Birmingham and back for that, and actually I’m thinking of doing just that, some time later this year.  Take in a few canals and whatever Big Things they have up there, and then a classical concert at Symphony Hall to check out its acoustics and how much better these than the frightful acoustics of the Royal Festival Hall, and then back to Euston and snug in my bed back home the same day.

Symphony Hall opened in 1991 to immediate public and critical acclaim. With its world class acoustics and stunning auditorium it is considered to be not only the UK’s finest concert hall but also one of the best in the world.

That sounds like it could be worth forty five quid.  And I’m writing this plan here to make it more likely that it will happen.

But forty five quid for a bus ride, some sandwiches, cakes and a cup of tea?  Pull, as we say in these parts, the other one.  Give, to coin a phrase, over.