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

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Thursday November 23 2017

Indeed.  And, I got him to hold the pose while I photoed it:

image

Okay, mine’s a rubbish picture, but: you get the picture, and in any case the fact that you can’t read the numbers is a feature rather than a bug.  I’m sure he got his picture.  He has already typed into his other little machine a note of my address and electricity score.  So it will be entirely clear to him which number he is confirming, or conceivably correcting, with his photo.

Just another example of what mobiles contribute to the economy, not just by doing newsworthy stuff like transmit big gobs of money or send portentous messages to and from people on the move, but simply by helping workers to do little bits of work.  Often, mobiles and their cameras are used to record the progress of work.  This is using mobiles and their cameras actually to do the work, because this particular work is recording.

I know: smart meter.  Well, someone recently tried to install one, but for some reason it couldn’t be done, or not yet.

To really appreciate this, you have to have experienced what happens to your electricity bill when your electricity consumption is recorded wrongly.

Wednesday November 22 2017

It’s been a while since there’s been any horizontality here. (That isn’t the most recent piece of horizontality here, just one that I happen especially to like.) So, allow me now to correct this, thus:

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Click to get the bigger original.

It’s a shop just off Lea Bridge Road, opposite the station.  Photoed by me almost exactly one year ago.

Tuesday November 21 2017

When it comes to showing off my photos, I am currently in full-on retro mode, and my latest little retrospective is of a few more photos I took when I was At the 2010 Farnborough Air Show, those being a rather greater number of photos which I posted from that show at the time, at Samizdata.

All four of these photos here feature the Avro Lancaster, and the final one also features a Lancaster and also the mighty Avro successor to the Lancaster, the Vulcan:

imageimageimage
imageimageimage

It was a great day.  And it got me thinking quite a bit more about the Avro Lancaster, and in particular about its highly distinctive and recognisable shape.

Monday November 20 2017

Ten years ago today, in a posting entitled Chanelle and Ziggy - romance in the age of total surveillance, I showed a photo, of some magazines on display:

image

But all I showed of that photo was the magazines bit, because, as the above title makes clear, that was the bit I was interested in:

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Funny.  Still.

But now, the bit at the bottom, where the maps are, seems just as interesting, because, now, so very dated.

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Celebrity romance has, with arrival of social media, just got that bit more public, having been very public even in 2007.  But those maps!  Where have all the maps gone?  Gone to smartphones every one.

Which just goes to show: If in doubt, take the photo! The more trivial and ephemeral it may seem at the time, the more likely it is to be of interest in a decade’s time.

Sunday November 19 2017

I once was once briefly acquainted with a quite close relative of Robert Mugabe, and that person was truly remarkable in being utterly incapable of understanding how anyone could possibly disagree with the truth that he saw so very clearly.  This person also looked exactly - spookily - like Robert Mugabe. (It was asking about this resemblance that got me the information that he was a close relative of Mugabe.) I have never known a more deeply stubborn person, ever.  But it was not a stubbornness made merely of the desire or the determination not to change his mind.  No.  He was simply unable to change his mind.  The idea of him every having been wrong, about anything, was simply impossible for him to grasp.

If Robert Mugabe is anything like this relative of his, and everything I know about Robert Mugabe tells me that Mugabe is, in this respect, exactly like him, Mugabe may find himself sacked, imprisoned, or even executed, but he will never resign, or ever change his mind about the wisdom of anything he ever said or did.  That he has not yet resigned has, according to the Guardian headline linked to there, has “stunned” Zimbabwe.  I was not stunned.

They’ll have to force him out, like King Richard II was forced out by King Henry IV.  But if Mugabe is forced out, there will be no scenes like the closing scenes of Shakespeare’s version of Richard II, where the deposed Richard comes to see the world and its ways differently, and to understand things more deeply.  Simply, Mugabe is right, has always been right and will always be right, and if everyone else disagrees with him, it can only be that everyone else is, was, and will be, hopelesslyl wrong.  Mugabe is literally incapable of understanding matters in any other way.

Mugabe is indeed now a rather confused old man.  But his confusion concerns only how it is possible for so many people to be so completely mistaken.

Saturday November 18 2017

I’ve started reading Adam Zamoyski’s Warsaw 1920: Lenin’s Failed Conquest of Europe, the importance of the events described in this book being neatly summarised in its subtitle.  Here is Zamoyski setting the stage for, and then introducing, the Polish leader Jozef Pilsudski.

This was not so much an issue of territory as of Russia’s need to break into Europe and Poland’s to exclude her from it; yet it had brought Russian armies into the heart of Poland, and a Polish occupation of Moscow as far back as 1612. The matter had been settled at the end of the eighteenth century by the partition of Poland between Russia, Prussia and Austria and its disappearance from the map. Despite a continuous struggle for freedom and repeated insurrections, Poland remained little more than a concept throughout the next hundred years, and its champions were increasingly seen as romantic dreamers.

But the partition that had removed Poland from the map had also brought her enemies into direct contact, and, in 1914, into deadly conflict. In February 1917, undermined by two and a half years of war, the Russian empire was overthrown by revolution. In October of that year Lenin’s Bolsheviks seized power, but their grip on the country was weak, and they were in no position to prosecute the war with Germany and Austria-Hungary. In the spring of 1918 they bought themselves a respite: by the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk they ceded to Germany Russia’s Baltic provinces, Lithuania, the parts of Poland under Russian occupation, Byelorussia and Ukraine. A few months later revolutions in Vienna and Berlin toppled the Austro-Hungarian and German empires, which left the whole area, still occupied by German and Austrian troops, effectively masterless. The Poles seized their chance.

Under pressure from President Wilson, the allies had already decided that the post-war settlement should include an independent Poland. They had even granted recognition to a Polish National Committee, based in Paris, which was preparing to form a provisional government. But they had no authority in German-occupied Poland, and no influence at all over the Bolshevik rulers of Russia, whose government they did not recognize. It was clear that the fate of Poland would be decided on the ground rather than in the conference room, and with Russia floundering in her own problems, the Poles, or rather one Pole, took the initiative.

imageHis name was Jozef Pilsudski. He was born in 1867 into the minor nobility and brought up in the cult of Polish patriotism. In his youth he embraced socialism, seeing in it the only force that could challenge the Tsarist regime and promote the cause of Polish independence. His early life reads like a novel, with time in Russian and German gaols punctuating his activities as polemicist, publisher of clandestine newspapers, political agitator, bank-robber, terrorist and urban guerrilla leader.

In 1904 Pilsudski put aside political agitation in favour of para-military organization. He organized his followers into fighting cells that could take on small units of Russian troops or police. A couple of years later, in anticipation of the coming war, he set up a number of supposedly sporting associations in the Austrian partition of Poland which soon grew into an embryonic army. On the eve of the Great War Austro-Hungary recognized this as a Polish Legion, with the status of irregular auxiliaries fighting under their own flag, and in August 1914 Pilsudski was able to march into Russian-occupied territory and symbolically reclaim it in the name of Poland.

He fought alongside the Austrians against Russia for the next couple of years, taking care to underline that he was fighting for Poland, not for the Central Powers. In 1916 the Germans attempted to enlist the support of the Poles by creating a kingdom of Poland out of some of their Polish lands, promising to extend it and give it full independence after the war. They persuaded the Austrians to transfer the Legion’s effectives, which had grown to some 20,000 men, into a new Polish army under German command, the Polnische Wehrmacht. Pilsudski, who had been seeking an opportunity to disassociate himself from the Austro-German camp in order to have his hands free when the war ended, refused to swear the required oath of brotherhood with the German army, and was promptly interned in the fortress of Magdeburg. His Legion was disbanded, with a only handful joining the Polnische Wehrmacht and the rest going into hiding.

They did not have to hide for long. Pilsudski was set free at the outbreak of revolution in Germany and arrived in Warsaw on 11 November 1918, the day the armistice was signed in the west. While his former legionaries emerged from hiding and disarmed the bewildered German garrison, he proclaimed the resurrection of the Polish Republic, under his own leadership.

Pilsudski was fifty-one years old. Rough-hewn, solid and gritty, he invariably wore the simple grey tunic of a ranker of the Legion. His pale face, with its high, broad forehead, drooping moustache and intense eyes, was theatrical in the extreme. ‘None of the usual amenities of civilized intercourse, but all the apparatus of sombre genius,’ one British diplomat noted on first meeting him.

Pilsudski felt that thirty years spent in the service of his enslaved motherland gave him an indisputable right to leadership. His immense popularity in Poland seemed to endorse this. But that was not the view of the victorious Allies in the west, nor of the Polish National Committee, waiting in Paris to assume power in Poland. After some negotiation a deal was struck, whereby the lion-maned pianist Ignacy Jan Paderewski, who had devoted himself to promoting the cause of Poland in Britain, France and particularly America, and was trusted by the leaders of those countries, came from Paris to take over as Prime Minister, with Pilsudski remaining titular head of state and commander-in-chief. While he allowed Paderewski to run the day-to-day business of the government and its relations with the Allies, Pilsudski continued to direct policy in all essentials. And he had firm ideas on how to ensure the survival of Poland.

Friday November 17 2017

Indeed:

image

Tilbury, September 2013.  That’s what a BMdotcom wildlife photo should be.  Creatures, yes, but also cranes.

At around that time, I made a series of trips out to London Gateway, London’s new container port, which is just downstream from Tilbury.  Here‘s a recent report of how London Gateway is doing, which also has further news about animals in the area:

The £1.5bn construction saw a staggering 350,000 animals moved off site into new habitats. At one stage DP World’s office building on the site homed tanks of great crested newts before they were moved into newly created ponds.

However, the horses in the above photo were not disturbed, because they were just outside Tilbury.  London Gateway is further down river.  It was only several hours later that day that I set eyes on those cranes, from a great distance. Despite the gloomy weather, it was a great day.  The photos bring it all back.

Thursday November 16 2017

Although “pipeline” is wrong, because these are solid-state batteries, to replace liquid batteries.

Instapundit says it’s “YUGE IF TRUE”, that Fisker has filed patents for solid-state batteries:

The reason all these companies are working on developing solid-state batteries is because they present a whole host of advantages over what you’ll find in today’s phones, computers and cars. The two big ones are greater energy density and rapid charging times. Fisker claims the batteries it’s developing have an energy density 2.5 times that of current batteries, and they should be capable of providing a 500-mile driving range. The company also says the batteries could be recharged in as little as a minute.

Companies don’t usually straight-out lie about things like this, but they do often get carried away.  In particular, they gloss over what may prove to be big obstacles.  But the obstacles get overcome, eventually.  They say they’re going to have this tech rolling in the early twenties.  Make that the thirties.  But, my guess: it will soon, historically speaking, happen.  They’re going to be very expensive, at first.  But that always happens.  Got to pay for all that inventing.

A key item of evidence for my optimism is that the report states that other companies are working on the same stuff, besides the one in the headline.  This suggests one of those inventions that is ready to be made, that Matt Ridley goes on about.  For decades this or that gizmo is promised, but: nothing.  Then suddenly: four companies all arrive at it, “independently”.  In other words, all the necessary inventions, that needed to be made before this one could be made, had finally been made.  At which point the gizmo goes from impossible, to inevitable.

Can these batteries be made really small, small enough for all those phones and computers?  If so, it really will be a new era.

As I keep saying, the one big aspect of our civilisation that is still working really well is … stuff like this.

Wednesday November 15 2017

On Thursday November 23rd, the latest manifestation of The Ashes kicks off:

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I took the above photo in the pedestrian tunnel that goes north from South Kensington tube towards the Royal Albert Hall, or in my case towards the Royal College of Music (where GodDaughter 2 was singing in a concert).

But look more closely.  This is not an advert for The Ashes themselves, an advert, that is to say, for the chance to watch or otherwise witness some actual cricket games.  No.  This is an advert for the means to play in a computerised cricket game.

The last licensed Ashes game was Ashes Cricket 2013. It was developed by Trickstar Games (also based in Melbourne, Australia) but was so irredeemably terrible it was comically cancelled after it had been released (it was quietly released on Steam in November 2013 but yanked down just four days later).

I knew nothing of this until now, even though I follow actual cricket very keenly.  The only computer game I ever play is Solitaire.  Blog and learn.

I wonder how the income earned from the sale of this computer game will compare with the income earned by the actual Ashes cricket games.  I’m guessing that, assuming they’ve now done a better job of it than was done in 2013, the comparison will be quite favourable. Although: Bairstow, Root, Ballance, Broad, Anderson and Cook will presumably be getting their slices of the computer game action.

Tuesday November 14 2017

A lot of the stuff at Digital Photography Review these days is about money-no-object high-end DSLR cameras, and about the many different money-no-object lenses you can shove on the front of DSLRs.  When DPRev descends from this Olympus (or this Canon or this Nikon) they usually then prattle on about the cameras on smartphones.

But this report, even though it says it’s about DSLRs, I did find interesting.  Canon have filed a patent for a new sort of bigger flip out screen, in other words a bigger version of the sort of screen that I for one could not now do without:

While a hinged DSLR rear display is nothing new, Canon’s patent shows a design that would allow for a large and reversible display unlike anything we’ve seen before. In fact, the LCD shown in the patent’s illustrations covers the entire back of the camera, making it necessary to tuck the rear dial and several buttons behind it, though several others are exposed on either side of the viewfinder.

I can remember when flip out screens were held in contempt by the DSLR fraternity.  But many of us digital snappers took to them with eagerness, having worked out that there are many photos that are pretty much unphotoable without such screens.  The one where you hold your camera as high as you can above your head, for instance, yet still manage to compose your photo accurately as you point your camera slightly downwards to capture a scene that you can’t yourself see directly because you are stuck in a crowd, but which you can see on your twiddly screen.

To be fair to Canon, after an initial period of head-in-the-sand stupidity, they have for quite a while now lead the way with adding flip out screens to DSLRs, and all the other big manufacturers have followed along.  There are still plenty of cameras available without flip out screens, for idiot Not-As-Real-As-They-Thing Photographers who take positive pride in not liking these screens, and maybe for some truly Real Photographers who truly do not need them.

As the report goes on to acknowledge, filing a patent and actually making and selling the thing patented are two different things.  But Canon’s new and much bigger variation on the flip out screen theme suggests that the huge added value of these screens is now widely understood by camera makers.

Monday November 13 2017

Busy day.  Busy evening.  So just a couple of quota photos, both taken a little under ten years ago, just before Christmas 2007.

First, Guys Hospital, looking as good as it ever could:

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At first, all I was thinking was: artistic impression.  But it also has interesting info in it.  No Shard.  Which got me noticing another, at the time very commonplace photo, of the Gherkin.  Also interesting info in it.  No nearby Big Things.  There it stands, in splendid isolation.

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I also photoed lots of photoers that day, and have so far showed you only some of them.  There are several more good photoer photos deserving of resuscitation, all with impeccably concealed faces, but these will have to wait.

Sunday November 12 2017

A few weeks ago, I watched and recorded a Shakespeare documentary series, in one episode of which Jeremy Irons talked about, and talked with others about, the two Henry IV plays.  And that got me watching two recorded DVDs that I had already made of these plays, the BBC “Hollow Crown” versions, with Irons as King Henry and Tom Hiddleston as the King’s son, Prince Hal.  While watching these, I realised how little I really knew these wonderful plays, and how much I was enjoying correcting that a little.

More recently, partly spurred on by what Trevor Nunn in that same documentary series had to say about it, I have been doing the same with The Tempest, this time making use of a DVD that I long ago purchased for next to nothing in a charity shop but had failed ever to watch.

By accident, when this DVD of The Tempest began, there were subtitles to be seen, and I realised that these written lines, far from getting in the way, only added to my enjoyment, so I left them on.  And, if subtitles were helping, why not the entire text?  Maybe I possess a copy of The Tempest, but if so I could not find it, so instead, I tried the internet, which quickly obliged.  My eyesight not being the best, I beefed up the magnification of the text until it was nearly as big as those subtitles.  So, I watched, I read subtitles, and I was able to see who was saying what, and what they were about to say.  And very gratifying it all was:

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On the telly, on the left, David Dixon as Ariel and, on the right, Michael Hordern as Prospero, both very impressive.

And here, should you be curious, is the text they were enacting at that particular moment, as shown on the right of the above photo, but now blown up and photoshop-cloned into greater legibility:

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I think the reason I found this redundancy-packed way of watching The Tempest so very satisfying is that with Shakespeare, the mere matter of what is going on is secondary to the far more significant matter of exactly what is being said, this latter often consisting of phrases and sentences which have bounced about in our culture for several centuries.  As ever more people have felt the need to recycle these snatches or chunks of verbiage, for their own sake, and because they illuminate so much else that has happened and is happening in the world, so these words have gathered ever more force and charismatic power.  As the apocryphal old lady said when leaving a performance of Hamlet: “Lovely.  So full of quotations.”

The thing is, Shakespeare’s characters don’t just do the things that they do, and say only what needs to be said to keep the plot rolling along.  They seek to find the universal meaning of their experiences, and being theatrical characters, they are able, having found the right words to describe these experiences, to pass on this knowledge to their audiences.  This is especially true of Hamlet, because central to Hamlet’s character is that he is constantly trying to pin down the meaning of life, in a series of what we would now call tweets, and consequently to be remembered after his death.

Prospero in The Tempest is not quite so desperate to be remembered, any more, we are told, than Shakespeare himself was.  In Prospero, as Trevor Nunn explained in his documentary about The Tempest, many hear Shakespeare saying goodbye to his career as a theatrical magician and returning to his provincial life of Middle English normality. But Shakespeare was Shakespeare.  He couldn’t help creating these supremely eloquent central characters.  Even when all they are doing is ordering room service, or in the case of Prospero doing something like passing on his latest instructions to Ariel, they all end up speaking Shakespeare, with words and phrases that beg to be remembered for ever.  These famous Shakespeare bits are rather like those favourite bits that we classical music fans all hear in the great works of the Western musical cannon.

So, a way of watching these plays that enables these great word-clusters to hang around for a while is just what you want.  (Especially if, like Prospero, you are getting old, and your short-term memory is not what it was.) It also helps being able to press the pause button from time to time, to enable you to savour these moments, to absorb their context, better than you could if just watching the one unpausable performance in front of you.  Although I agree, having a pause symbol on the furrowed brow of Prospero, as in my telly-photo above, is not ideal.

I am now browsing through my Shakespeare DVD collection, wondering which one to wallow in next.

Saturday November 11 2017

I took this photo out in the Epping region, while walking about there with a friend, in the autumn of 2015.  And I believe that even when I took it, it seemed like a modern take on Remembrance Sunday and all that.  Death in a major war, although itself no doubt often a very solitary experience, is experienced by the rest of us, especially as events like World War One recede into history, as a vast collective, shared, catastrophe.  It’s the scale of the death, the sheer numbers, that hits home.  And much poppy imagery reflects this, for instance in the form of all those poppies that were recently planted around the Tower of London.

So this poppy photo perhaps suggests the individuality and isolation of military death, when fighting on behalf of a country like ours, now.  Your son dies.  But nobody else for miles around is suffering in the same way.  You’re on your own.

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The yellow of the surrounding flowers suggests cowardice, which I dare say is how some bereaved people feel about their loss: that everyone else is scared to get stuck in.  But there the metaphor probably breaks down.  I certainly think that the people of Britain would be more than ready in the future to fight another big war, if they thought it made sense.

But it was a striking sight, nevertheless.

Friday November 10 2017

I’m not much of a wildlife photoer, if only because others are so very enthusiastic about it.  Nature beautiful.  (Hu)Man-made world ugly.  Those are the cliches, and bollocks to them.  I prefer to celebrate, with my photoing, the human-made world, often by noticing how “natural” (that is non-centrally-dictated) that human-made world so often is, especially in a complicated place like London.

But I do keep trying to photo non-human creatures in case I get lucky, and about once every other blue moon, I do get a non-human photo that strikes me as worth showing here.

So, for instance, earlier this year I was photoing Big Things with a seagull in front of them, mostly to illustrate how recognisable these Big Things are, despite being out of focus.  Recognisable to me anyway.  Thus:

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On the left, a seagull lined up with the Spraycan.  On the right, the same seagull lined up with the Millbank Tower.  But then, when I lined the seagull up in front of Big Ben, I got this, which strikes me as, you know, quite good:

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Click on that to get my original photo, with blurry Big Ben behind being clearly recognisable.  But here is a case where the photo I photoed of the actual creature seemed more interesting than the Big Thing.  Because this seagull happened to be pointing its face straight at me, I got a view of a seagull face that I for one don’t regularly see.  The beak, because pointing straight at me, is taken out of the picture, and the head that remains looks more like that of some kind of fluffy baby seal or some such thing.  But with bird legs.  Scroll up so that you only see the head, and it hardly looks seagullish at all.

I was going to add a photo of a squirrel to this posting.  I even checked that I was spelling squirrel right.  But this squirrel photo, which I took about two minutes before taking the above seagull photos, although quite nice, had no architecture in the background.  It was just a squirrel, in a tree.

Thursday November 09 2017

I have started reading Music & Monarchy, by David Starkey and Katie Greening.  What the division of labour is between these two (Starkey is in larger letters thatn Greening on the front cover) I do not know, but it certainly starts very promisingly.  I have already encountered two passages worthy of prolonged recycling here, the one that starts the book (see below), and the bit that follows, about England’s profound medieval musicality.

So, to begin where Starkey and Greening begin, here is how the introduction of this book launches itself (pages 1-2):

Music or Words? Poetry and Drama? Or Anthems, Opera and Oratorio? Which, to personalise and particularise, is the more important in British history and to the British monarchy: the anniversary of Shakespeare or the centenary of Handel? The question almost seems absurd. Nowadays there is no doubt that Shakespeare wins every time. Shakespeare’s cycle of history plays, famously described by another maker of history, John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, as ‘the only history I ever read’, still shapes the popular understanding of English history and its murderous dynastic rivalries; while in their nobler moments the plays (re-)invent the idea of England herself before going on to adumbrate a larger, mistier vision of Britain:

This royal throne of kings, this scepter’d isle,
This earth of majesty, this sea of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-Paradise ...
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea ...
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England,
This nurse, this teeming womb of royal kings ...
This land of such dear souls, this dear, dear land.

Who could resist that? George III (1760-1820) for one, who confided to Fanny Burney: ‘Was there ever such stuff as a great part of Shakespeare? Only one must not say so!’ The eighteenth century more or less agreed with its longest reigning king. The bicentenary of Shakespeare, celebrated five years late in 1769, was a provincial pageant, which, despite the best efforts of the actor-manager David Garrick, made little impact outside the Bard’s birthplace of Stratford-upon-Avon and, thanks to torrential rain, was literally a washout even there. On the other hand, the centenary of Handel’s birth (celebrated a year early by mistake in 1784) was a grand national event the like of which had never been seen before: not for the greatest general, politician or king, let alone for a mere musician.  Fashionable London fought (and queued) for tickets; Westminster Abbey was crammed and ladies were instructed not to wear excessive hoops in their dresses while hats were absolutely forbidden. Even then, demand was unsatisfied and two of the events had to be rerun.

Wednesday November 08 2017

Yes, as I often do, I am doing the first 6/20 talk of the year, in this case of the year 2018, for Christian Michel.  He calls them 6/20 because, with only rare deviations, they happen on the 6th and the 20th of each month.  My talk will be on the January 6th.

At the meeting on the 6th of this month, Christian asked me to send him something in writing about the talk I would be giving, and to finalise its title.  Here is what I just sent him:

“The causes we identify and the causes we identify with”

My background is not philosophy; it is political disputation.  My talk will not be an exhaustive philosophical explication of the nature of causes and of causation; rather will my talk be about how causal arguments are deployed by those arguing about politics, in particular by those of us with highly developed ideological prejudices.

It will be about how such persons often especially like a “root cause”, even though causes typically deploy themselves in teams rather than in isolation.

It will be about how the causes of events - of good events and of bad events – which we ideologues choose to pick out, from the hubbub of multiple causes, and celebrate or denounce are choices which are conditioned by our general ideological prejudices.

Among other things, I expect to be comparing ideological arguments with the arguments that happen within failing marriages.

This is more in the nature of a memo-to-self, to get me going on the necessary preparation, than it is an advert.  But if you want to attend this or any other of these meetings but don’t know how, get in touch.

In the summer of 2007 I was wandering along the south bank of the Thames with my Canon S2 IS, and came across this statue, outside a pub in Greenwich, called the Trafalgar Tavern:

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I only got around to posting that photo at this blog in 2016, such time lags being frequent here.  It often takes me a while to appreciate how nice I think a certain photo is.

But 2016 proved soon enough for the lady who did this sculpture of Lord Nelson, for her new website was only then in the process of being put together.  An email arrived early this year asking me if I would mind any of my photos being used for this website, and if I was agreeable to this (which I was), could I supply original full-sized versions of all the decent photos I had taken of His Lordship?  Which I did.  I also asked, more in hope than expectation, to be informed if and when any use was made of any of my photos, and I then forgot the matter.

But then, a week ago, another email arrived saying that the photo above of Nelson was to be seen at the website, now up and running, of Lesley Pover, at the page where it says Nelson returns to Greenwich.  I even got a name check with a link back to here, at the bottom of that page.

All of which is most gratifying.  Ms Pover and her website maker have said their thanks to me.  I in my turn am grateful to be associated, if only in a very small way, with such an accomplished artist, and to have made a contribution to such a fine looking website.

Tuesday November 07 2017

The usually ignorable but occasionally very interesting Dezeen has one of its very interesting posting up now, about a driverless bus/train, in China, which looks like this:

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That reminds me a bit of those road-trains that they have in Australia.

The system works by scanning the painted road markings, using sensors on the underside of the vehicle. These sensors are able to detect pavement and road dimensions by the millimetre, and send travel information to the train whilst in transit.

Clever.  And a lot simpler than a lot of stuff involving seeing and avoiding people, and seeing and avoiding other vehicles, with multiple sensors and artificial intelligence and whatnot.  The people have to avoid this bus, just like they have to avoid trams now.  This is not a self-driving vehicle.  It is merely a development of the driverless train, like the DLR, but with computers and road markings to keep the thing on the straight and narrow rather than rails.

Driverless cars on regular roads, roads with no special markings, are still a few years off, I believe.  Too complicated.  Too many unknown unknowns.  But driverless buses like these, driving along predictable routes, will be no harder to manage than trams or trolley buses are now.

Nobody knows what the long-term impact of driverless vehicles is going to be, other than that it will be very big.  But one possible future is that lots of railways might soon be flattened into virtual railways not unlike this one, which will be a whole lot easier to travel along than a regular road.

Meanwhile, I love how, in the picture above, in the bottom right corner, there’s a guy who looks like he’s taking a picture of the cab of this bus, a can with nobody in it.

Monday November 06 2017

This blog regularly suffers from this condition:

The maxim “Nothing avails but perfection” may be spelt shorter: “ Paralysis”.

Today, for instance, I journeyed forth, north, and got some great photos.  But I want to get my report of today’s photo-triumphs exactly right, which means that, quite possibly, I won’t ever report them at all.  How paralytic is that?  Very.

However, this evening, I met some people who every now and again take a look at this blog.  Not a read of it, you understand.  They look.  At the photos.  So here is a photo for such “readers”, taken just over a decade ago, of a lady with a nice headscarf taking a photo with her then state-of-the-art but now hopelessly out-of-date mobile phone:

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It was not long before then that I started seriously trying to take photos of photoers that excluded their faces.

Sunday November 05 2017

Instapundit’s Ed Driscoll quotes two early paragraphs of a review by Theodore Dalrymple of a book about Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, aka Le Corbusier.  I like these paragraphs, from near the end:

Jeanneret’s pronouncements, and the belief in them, led to the construction of a thousand urban hells, worse in some ways than traditional slums because they were planned and because they were specifically designed to eliminate spontaneous and undirected human contact or social life. Jeanneret hated what he called derisively the street, because the street was messy, it was unofficial and unofficiated. He hated it as an obsessively house-proud woman hates dust.

But the puzzle remains: How was such a man able to obtain and retain such a hold over other men’s minds, or at least over important men’s minds? I have no complete answer, though I suspect that the First World War had much to do with it. Without that cataclysm, Jeanneret would have been a crank, or a mere antisocial misfit; but so great was the emotional and intellectual dislocation understandably brought about by the war that almost anything seemed worthy of notice or consideration afterwards, anything that was different from what went before. And so Jeanneret had his chance.

As regulars here will know, I absolutely do not share Dalrymple’s hatred of all architectural modernism.  And I even like some of Le Corubusier’s buildings, the more quirky and individual ones, although I am sure not having to live or work in them helps a lot.  But what happened to the world at the hands of the architects, and in particular the city planners, sho were influenced by Le Corbusier was appalling.

The book that Dalrymple was reviewing is cripplingly expensive, but I might just buy it anyway, on a kind of “vote with my wallet” basis.

Saturday November 04 2017

Once again today is nearly over, yet I have posted nothing here.  I have several non-quota postings about half done, but nothing blog-ready.  So, here is, instead, this:

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From the I Just Like It Directory.

I just like it because of the contrast between the shiny windows with their out of focus, curved reflections, and the Concrete Monstrosity style concrete that surrounds the windows, the concrete being in focus, not shiny, not curvey.  I like that contrast.  That’s exactly as it came out of the camera.  No cropping or photo-enhancing.

Taken in Victoria Street, opposite where New Scotland Yard used to be.  Not that that matters.

Friday November 03 2017

In my recent rootlings about in This is why I’m broke I came across two dog related devices that seemed rather impressive, in the usual punitive and exploitative (respectively) ways that dog related devices so often are.

First, there was this rather sneaky Tug Preventing Dog Trainer:

Train your dog to stop pulling on the leash when you walk with this tug preventing dog trainer. Every time old Sparky pulls on the leash, this clever device will emit a harmless ultrasonic tone that only he can hear, encouraging him to stop pulling and tugging.

Engouraging.  That’s one way of putting it I suppose.

But this does confirm that dogs respond to instantaneous punishments for defying your will.  They respond in particular by not doing whatever it is, and in general by regarding you as their dog superior.  Once subjugated, their deepest pleasure is in serving you.

Serving you, for instance, by supplying power for your Dog Powered Scooter:

Harness your dog’s endless energy to travel around with the dog powered scooter. This revolutionary form of transportation safely allows you and your canine to move in the same direction – giving you and your dog a fun outlet to get some healthy exercise.

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Well, dogs seem always to hanker after more exercise than most of their human masters ever seem to desire.  This contraption solves that problem very nicely.

Thursday November 02 2017

Remember that hippo I photoed before giving it to Cleaning Lady’s Partner.  Course you do.  And remember how I only posted one photo of the hippo in question, because I was in a rush.  Well I’m in another rush, following a long day doing various other things, and here is another hippo photo:

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I like the contrast.  Usually things like this hippo are either looked at separately, or else viewed alongside other similar creatures.  But having this hippo announcing his ownership of a clutch of my household equipment looks good, I think.

Wednesday November 01 2017

Yes, favorite blogger-of-mine Mick Hartley has been checking out, and photoing, the now finished Havenhuis, and has this to say about it:

I noted earlier - before I’d seen it in situ - that “it looks like it’s just plonked imperiously on top of the original building, with no attempt at a sympathetic conversation between the two”. Having now had the chance to look around and check it out for myself, I think that’s still a fair summary.

There follow several excellent photos of the building, of the sort that amateurs like Mick Hartley (and I) have a habit of doing better than the hired gun Real Photographers, because we tell the truth about how the new Thing in question looks, and in particular about how it looks alongside the surroundings it has inserted itself into.  Real Photographers know that their job is to lie about such things, to glamorise rather than to describe accurately.  Their job is to force you to like the Thing.  Amateurs like me and like Mick Hartley take photos that enable you to hate the new Thing even more eloquently, if that’s already your inclination.

And of all the photos Hartley shows, this one most perfectly illustrates that “disrespect” that he writes of.  “Conversation”?  Fornication, more like, inflicted by one of those annoyingly oversexed dogs:

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I still like this Thing, though.  I mean, time was when any disrespect felt by the architect towards that older building would have resulted in the old building being demolished.  Which is worse?  Disrespect?  Or oblivion?  Perhaps the latter would have been more dignified.  Execution has a certain grandeur, when compared to a further lifetime of potential ridicule.  But I still prefer what happened.