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

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Saturday June 30 2018

Yesterday, before Gurrelieder, I had twenty minutes to fill, and ran up to the top of the RFH, and took photos.

This was one of my favourites, of a favourite London building, and a favourite other place to photo London buildings.

That’s Richard Seiffert’s One Kemble Street, with its seldom noted other than by me hairdo of roof clutter.  And lined up right in front of it, the ME Hotel Radio Bar, from which, a while back, I photoed those seven London bridges:

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There is also some older-school roof clutter to be seen there, in the form of a chimney array.  You see those a lot.  If you want to, that is.

The funny thing is, I didn’t need to be attending a concert in order to make this short climb.  I could just go to the RFH, go in, go up to that viewing spot, photo my photos, go down again, and leave.  Memo to self: do this, soon, and quite often.

Friday June 29 2018

Yes. Last night I went to the RFH, to see and hear Esa-Pekka Salonen conduct Schoenberg’s mighty Gurrelieder, something Salonen has done at the RFH, with the same orchestra, before.  GodDaughter 2 was somewhere off in the distance, singing in the chorus, and had got me a seat near the front.  So although I still heard lots of seats creaking and programmes flapping and coughers coughing, I also heard Schoenberg.  And only Schoenberg, when Gurrelieder got loud, as it often does.

What a piece!  If all you know about Schoenberg is twelve tone discordancy, all passion spent, but on the other hand if you like how the likes of Wagner and Mahler and Debussy sound when they get really worked up, then if you’ve not done so already, you really should check out Gurrelieder.  Likewise Verklarte Nacht, if you like Brahms chamber music.  Schoenberg greatly admired Brahms, I believe.  When GD2 told me about this Gurrelieder concert, I mentioned Verklarte Nacht to her and she tried it, and loved it.

So, what does Gurrelieder sound like?  Try: Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde meets Zombie Warrior Apocalypse meets Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream turned nightmare, meets some mad Russian novel with mad drunkard clowns and with Ring Cycle theology inserted, meets (and ends with) Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony.  Hence GD2 and her friends, singing in the chorus at the end.

I don’t go to many live concerts, but I am extremely glad that I went to this one, long and interval-less though it was.  And there is now something particularly odd about my concert-going history.  The dullest performance of a great piece of music I have ever witnessed (Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at a Prom) and the most exciting performance of a great piece (this), were both of them conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen.

I think this says something both about Beethoven and about Gurrelieder.  If you just play the notes, exactly right, when playing a Beethoven symphony, but are not excited by the idea of playing this piece yet again and wanting people to like it yet again, the result is totally boring.  Playing the notes exactly right (which in my opinion is a much under-rated musical virtue) is Esa-Pekka Salonen’s particular speciality, so his Beethoven 9, a piece the performance of which, yet again, seemed not to interest him, was the definition of tedium.  But if you play the notes, exactly right, of Gurrelieder, and if you are interested in performing it, once again, and want everyone present to be astounded, then it is astounding.  It has a lot of notes, and they are really difficult to master and play, all exactly right, all together, all as loud or as quiet as they should be.  Salonen made all this happen, or so it sounded to me, and was also very excited about performing this amazing piece, once again.  Accordingly, the result was amazing.  As I thought it probably would be, because the less well known piece that Salonen also conducted at that Prom was almost as exciting as the Beethoven 9 that followed was crushingly dull.  And you are not going to supervise a performance of Gurrelieder unless you totally believe, as Esa-Pekka Salonen clearly did, that this is a piece that should be performed, once again.  Too much bother.  Far too much bother.

A great concert and a great occasion.  I was lucky to be there.  GD2 was even luckier to be actually performing in it.  I trust she realises this. Early emails following the concert suggest that she does.

Thursday June 28 2018

On that day recently when England ruthlessly crushed Tunisia, 2-1, with a late goal in extra time, I was checking out the Big Things of the City.

In particular, I wanted to see how the Scalpel was looking, close up.  Here are a selection of the photos I took of it:

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I especially relish those wiindow-shaped gaps in the soon-to-be-pristine surface.

Wednesday June 27 2018

Whenever, in London, I bump into Chinese couples doing a wedding photo session, I join in and photo away myself, taking care to include the official photoers in my photos.

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That clutch of photos was photoed in September 2014 on Westminster Bridge, and is one of the nicer Chinese wedding photo sessions I recall joining in on, largely because of the splendour of that red dress.  (And yes, she herself looks pretty good too.) Usually, the bride wears white.

Just like the official photoers, I lined up a landmark behind the happy couple in one of my photos.  And note how another of my photos is just her, without him.  That seems to happen quite a lot.

Until now, it never occurred to me to research this delightful Chinese custom, but today, I did.  And I quickly found my way to this BBC report, published in October 2014, which explains that actually, these photos don’t get taken just after the wedding, but before it:

It’s a Chinese custom for couples to have their wedding photos taken before they are married, rather than on the day of the nuptials. “We wanted to take some sweet moments to share with the guests,” says Yixuan. On the wedding day, the photos will be shown to the guests on cards, via big screens and perhaps on video.

In China, pre-wedding photography is a huge - and lucrative – industry. ...

Usually I hesitate to feature the faces of strangers at this blog.  But my rule is, if you are making a spectacle of yourself, you are fair game.  And these photoers often make a huge performance out of getting the exact shots they want.

I think I have mentioned here before that I believe someone should do a ballet based on the contortions that digital photoers twist themselves into.  It would make sense to include a Chinese wedding couple in such a ballet.

Tuesday June 26 2018

It is called, at any rate by the people who built it, The Peak.  What it is called by others, in the event that they notice it at all, I don’t know.  But it’s more likely to be something along the lines of “that peculiar and asymmetrical lump outside Victoria Station with the big curved metal roof on it, that looks like it was stuck on the top during a refurbishment of some ugly old block built in the sixties or seventies”.

Today, personal business took me to Victoria Station, but before descending from the main concourse of the station into the Underground, and encouraged by the spactacular not-a-cloud-in-the-sky weather, I took a look around outside.

And saw this:

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That being the top of “The Peak”, and on top of that top, the rather splendid window cleaning crane that periodically emerges from that bizarre roof.  I love these cranes, especially when they have odd hats on the way that one has, to make them merge right back into their roofs, when they resume their hibernation.

But today, that peculiar curvey metal bit that sticks out on the left, as we look, was also looking wonderful.

Although almost any building looks good on a day like today was, that particular combination of sights particularly appealed to me, and made me particularly pleased that I had interrupted my journey.

Monday June 25 2018

Yes.  After photoing Cromwell, and much else besides, and having been lifted to the top of the Tate Modern Extension, I mostly then photoed my fellow photoers.

But I also photoed this:

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Yes, a fire.  There were absolutely no clouds in the sky of any sort, except for that cloud, and it had to be a fire on the ground.

Another photo taken seconds later told me more about where this fire was:

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Whenever I photo something interesting or out-of-the-ordinary, I try to remember to photo as much context as I can, so I can find out more about whatever it was when I get home.  Signs and street namescan help a lot, to pin down what and where it is, if I’m right next to it.  You think you’ll remember, but what if you are only investigating years later, when all you have is the photos.  With a story like this, several photos with varying zoom are a good idea, to make location easier to identify.

In the foreground there is the Blackfriars Station Bridge.  That tells me what particular slice of London the fire was in.  Even my googling skills were more than sufficient to tell me that the fire in question, given that I had the time of it as well as the approximate place, was one that broke out at the top of the Somers Town Coffee House.

It would seem that everyone in there got out, and there were not fatalities or even serious injuries.  I say this because the only news about this fire happened while it was raging and for about half a day after.  No fatalities or serious injuries were reported in those early reports.  After that early news: no news, or none that I could find.  No news, with news of this sort, is surely the best sort of news.

No posting here yesterday, because from mid afternoon onwards this site could not be reached, either by readers or by the writer, i.e. me.  Sorry about that, but all seems to be sorted now, as it had to be for me to be able to post this.

I also had email problems, and just when I really did not need them. The Sunday evening before the last Friday of the month is when I do a mass(-ish) email about my forthcoming Last Friday of the Month meeting.  (This time: Prof Tim Evans on Corbyn.) But, it would seem that the emails all got through, even if replies to them were only getting back to me at around midday today.

When you have problems like this, then as soon as they’re sorted the worrisomeness graph nosedives from VERY BAD!!!! to profound happiness:

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Which is always a better feeling than, logically, it deserves to be, considering that all that happened was that something bad happened and then stopped.  But when badness stops, that feels very good, even if, logically, it is only things getting back to normal.

Saturday June 23 2018

Yesterday I walked, in bright sunshine, along Victoria Street to Parliament Square, and then across along the river, ending up at the top of the Tate Modern Extension.  In total, I took one thousand four hundred and seventy two photos, most of them at the top of the Tate Modern Extension, and most of those of my fellow digital photoers.

But here is just one of the photos I took yesterday, not of another photoer, and not anywhere near to Tate Modern:

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That’s the statue of Oliver Cromwell, outside the Houses of Parliament.  Read more about it here.

Usually, the background behind this photo is complicated Parliamentary architecture.  But just now, work is being done on this architecture, so Cromwell’s background is unusually plain and unfussy, like Cromwell himself, I believe.

I like temporary stuff.  And a nice variation on temporiness is when the temporiness is in the background behind something permanent, like a statue outside Parliament.

Friday June 22 2018

imageOn the day that England ruthlessly crushed Tunisia at football, with a very late goal, I was checking out the most recent Big Things of the City of London.  But there are other things in the City of London besides Big Things, and this is, you sense, deliberate.  They’re trying to make the City more than a place of work which becomes deserted when everyone buggers off to the suburbs early on Friday evening.  They’re trying to make it stay alive at evenings and weekends.  They’re trying to make it the sort of place that people might like to visit, as opposed merely to a place that lots of people find it profitable to work in.

One of the things that signals this effort is sculpture.

On the right is a photo I took of the first sculpture I encountered during my walkabout.  Frankly, I wasn’t impressed.  The colours are quite nice, but the sculpture itself is too much like a miniature and pretend Big Thing.  And why would you want that when you have real Big Things all around you?  Standing as it does next to the Lloyds Building, this pile of coloured rectangles just looked feeble and sad.

I much preferred this carthorse:

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And this goat:

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Here is a link to information about the goat.

Strangely, I could find absolutely nothing on the www about the carthorse.  This may be because, rather than being Art, it is merely a 3D advert for alcohol.  Those big giant courgettes it is dragging along in its cart are for making booze of some sort, or such is my guess.  Or, the silence of the internet may be because this carthorse has only very recently arrived at the spot where I encountered it.  Or, the internet is full of stuff about this carthorse and I merely failed to find it, which is the most likely explanation for this not-link.

Whatever.  The thing I liked about both the horse and the goat is that they are simulated biological entities, rather than man-made structures like that pile of coloured rectangles.  They do not compete with the Big Things, because they are different from them.  Instead, they make a welcome contrast to the Big Things.

Big Things on their own are very dull, I think, and little Big Things don’t change that.  Sculpted creatures do change this, I also think.

Thursday June 21 2018

Here is a recent Scott Adams Dilbert cartoon, although Dilbert himself is not involved in this particular one:

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I’ve always thought that one of the many things that won the Cold War for Civilisation and doomed Bolshevik Barbarism to defeat was stealth stuff.  By its nature, stealth stuff is undetectable, and the better it is, the more impossibly undetectable it is.  So, if you cannot detect it at all, it could still be there, and really really good at being stealthy.  Hell, it could be anywhere.  It could be right outside the Politburo’s front window.

Of course, it probably isn’t this clever.  But, how would you be sure?

This was why, when the Americans had got these contraptions working reasonably well, they revealed their existence.  They took lots of spooky photos of these spooky things, and made sure the whole world could see them.  Where, at any particular moment, they were, for you to photo, they did not reveal.

How can you defeat an enemy like that?

Same with Star Wars.  Shooting down all incoming nuclear missiles with all-powerful death rays.  Bollocks, right?  But, again, how could you be sure.

Wednesday June 20 2018

More and more, I have come to think of the reflections to be seen in windows as interesting things to photo, alongside the things you see through the windows.

Thus:

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That’s Battersea Power Station and its crane cluster, photoed from a train, about to cross the river into Victoria, earlier in the month.

I know, it has the lights inside the train reflected in the window, and that is considered bad.  But why is this a problem?  I think it makes a rather interesting combination of sights.

I also like very much how the above photo also includes a small mention of the Shard, towards the bottom on the right:

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My camera sees more than I do.

What the above sentence really means is that when I looked at the actual scene, when photoing it, I saw one thing, but when I look at the photo that I took, I see different things.

I now get to see more of that one scene.  At the time I saw the scene, complete with its reflected lights, but then the train carried on moving and immediately showed me another scene, and another, and … .  No wonder I didn’t see as much of the original scene.

Tuesday June 19 2018

On Saturday June 9th, I journeyed to Blackheath’s All Saints’ Church to hear GodDaughter 2 and three of her Royal College of Music comrades in song take it in turns each to sing a few of the songs they had already done or were about to do in their graduation recitals.  It was a fine event for all present, but for me it was particularly special, because, simply, I thought that GD2 sang so very well.  There was a security, strength and beauty to her voice that I’d never heard before, and she sold her songs, every nuance of which she clearly understood perfectly, with just the right amount of facial and bodily gesture, enough to really help, but never to distract from her now amazing voice.

GD2’s graduation recital was still to come, and in the next few days I asked myself if she really had been as good as I thought she had, and whether, if she had been, she’d reproduce this recently achieved level of excellence when there was so much more at stake.

It was this graduation recital that got me, last Thursday afternoon, photoing the statue of Prince Albert outside the Albert Hall (sadly it is easier to scroll down than follow that link).  In that posting, I mentioned, in passing, that I thought GD2’s recital had been very good.  Perhaps you thought that this was mere routine politeness on my part.  No.  It really was very good, indeed.

The recital happened in a rather large hall, way too large for the number of friends and family present.  In the middle, at the back, right in GD2’s eyeline, four RCM judges sat at desks in a silent row, giving her marks out of a hundred and writing comments that would decide her future.  At first, GD2 seemed understandably rather nervous.  But once she got into it, it was like Blackheath all over again, and if anything even better.  This was a far bigger venue to fill than that church, but she did this in a way that suggested she’d do the same in a place three or four times bigger.

Most of GD2’s recent performances that I’ve seen and heard have been in opera scenes, where she was mostly just singing along with others.  Which was fine, but it was hard to judge what personal progress she had been making.

It’s no good asking any of GD2’s fellow students what they think of her singing.  They’re great kids, but all part of what is so great about them is that they never share any doubts they may have about each other’s performing progress or prowess with a mere civilian such as I.  Which means that if they now think that GD2 is as good as I do, they have no way of telling me so that is fully convincing.  My only way of knowing if GD2 is as good as she has suddenly started sounding and looking to me is simply to listen very carefully, e.g. while shutting my eyes, and then to go with what I think I heard.  And what I think I heard, and saw, especially last Thursday, was the sort of singing that would have sounded absolutely fine if I and a five hundred and fifty others had paid to listen to it in a packed Wigmore Hall.

I have always liked and admired GD2.  And ever since she got into the RCM I have admired her even more.  Clearly there were classical singing experts who thought highly of her prospects, and that was hugely impressive.  But it was only at that Blackheath church, and then again last Thursday, that I was able to hear it and see it, fully, for myself.

Here are a couple of photos I took of GD2 last Thursday, in the RCM foyer, after her recital:

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As you can see, I wasn’t the only one photoing her.

There’s still a long way to go before GD2’s name is in lights and on the covers of CDs, and any number of knowns or unknowns could still stop all that.  What she is doing is like running in a marathon.  It’s still quite early in the race and the leading bunch in this marathon is still pretty big.  But, the point is: GD2 is still in that leading bunch.  She’s still a contender.

It helps that her voice, mezzo-soprano, is quite rare.  Regular sopranos, along with bass-baritones, are fairly common.  Mezzos and tenors, not so much, not good ones.

Monday June 18 2018

Earlier this evening I was in the City, checking out the latest Big Things, but this posting isn’t about that.

I care just enough about England doing well in the World Cup to have to try not to care, as opposed to truly not caring.  Countries like Tunisia are getting better at soccer, and countries like England are getting worse, so today’s game, Tunisia v England, was a banana skin almost guaranteed to embarrass England.  I chose early this evening for my City walkabout because the weather forecast was good, but also because if I was photoing in the City, I could forget about this sure-to-be excruciating game.

Fat chance.  For starters, I was constantly walking past pubs full of people crying out in unison and in frustration, at England’s evidently imperfect performance.  Also, I had my mobile phone with me, and it was able to tell me what the shouting was all about.  I tried not to mind when Tunisia equalised with a penalty.  I tried not even to know.  But I did, because I did.

Also, in one of those urban coicidences, I encountered two further soccer reminders, both involving Dele Alli, a Spurs player who also plays in this England side.  These two photos were taken by me within a minute of one another, the first outside Liverpool Street tube, and the second down on the tube platform:

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On the left, an Evening Standard headline, all about how ruthless England must be, against Tunisia.  Sadly, they ruthlessly missed almost all of the many goal chances they created.  Had that other Spurs player, Kane, not scored at the beginning, and then again right at the end in extra time, England would have been humiliated.

And on the right, an advertising campaign which Dele Alli was surely asking for trouble by agreeing to.  He is fronting for clothing brand boohoo MAN.  This is a photocaption waiting to happen.  When England fail to win the World Cup, and they will, quite soon, fail to win the World Cup, Dele Alli will be photoed, a lot, looking unhappy.  And the unhappiest photo of all will have the words “boohoo man” under it, in many media outlets.  This will greatly benefit boohoo, by getting its name talked about, so I suppose, come to think of it, that the prospect of such coverage has already greatly benefited Del Alli.  But I consider this very undignified, even if Dele Alli is already boohooing all the way to the bank.

Sunday June 17 2018

Reflected in a boring building.  WIth cars next to it.

Well I like it:

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Busy day.

I took it in the vicinity of the Walthamstow “wetlands” (i.e. reservoirs), last November.

Saturday June 16 2018

This morning, I had a strange dream.  What with attending a couple of recent song performances given by GodDaughter2, my subconscious somehow persuaded itself that I was also having to do some singing, in front of a similarly discerning audience.  But of course I had no idea what I was supposed to be singing.  Also, my singing is ridiculous, and it has been ever since my voice broke.  Nobody sane would gather into an audience to hear it.  Nevertheless, there I was, on a stage, waiting to perform, with three other actual singers, totally clueless.  So far so ordinary.  A classic unrehearsed performance anxiety nightmare.

At this point, however, a slightly more conscious layer of my subconscious deduced, in an actually quite relaxed manner, that this was an unrehearsed performance anxiety nightmare.  At which point, it told me to look the audience straight in their eyes, and I said words to the following effect: “This performance may seem like it’s going to be a dream for you, but actually, it’s really a nightmare.  My nightmare.  And I’m not having it.  I’m not going to do any performing, and I am not going to feel bad about this.  I’m out of here.” And I was.  I left the stage, and all those present just had to deal with it.

At this point it got strange.  Instead of me waking up, the dream carried right on.  The media decided to take an interest.  There were TV crews interviewing the other performers, the ones who had actually been doing some rehearsing.  What was that about?  Who was that bloke?  It was quite a drama.  As it would be, if a performer made a speech like the one my subconscious and I had just made.  I tried to hide behind a door in the room where all this media frenzy was unfolding, but the media spotted me and advanced towards me.  Only then did I wake up.

What did this mean?  What was my subconscious telling me?  The usual unrehearsed performance anxiety nightmare seems to say: rehearse better.  This revised version seemed to say: relax.  But relax about what, exactly?

They say that if you have a weird dream, then if you just write it down, as best you can, or, if you are the picture-drawing sort, if you draw yourself a picture, then whatever message your brain was trying to get noticed in another part of itself is from then on regarded as having been noticed, and the weird dream does not return.  What matters is not the accuracy and quality of what you write or draw.  Simply making the effort is enough.

It feels to me like this was something to do with getting old.  Getting old means that you just get less bothered about things generally, and unrehearsed performance anxiety nightmares in particular.  Time was when you worried about such things.  Now, you just bugger off out of there.  If others object, that’s their problem.

Also, if you think this is a bizarre blog posting, ... well, you know, ditto.

Friday June 15 2018

I link to this article by Matt Ridley partly because I like the photo at the top of it, which is a nice combination of biology and technology, wildlife and urbanity:

Here is a square cropped from the middle of that photo:

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But I also like what it says, which is that human cities are also places for other kinds of creatures.  Urban creatures are now evolving fast, to fill all of the many niches that humans are busy creating.

Suburbs are already richer in wildlife than most arable fields in the so-called green belt, making environmental objections to housing development perverse.

Amen.  I was brought up in an outer suburb of London, which means a place just beyond the green belt, where London resumes, after a big old gap.  Every train journey to London would involve this bizarre twenty minute spell in the green belt.  The green belt is a completely futile and surpassingly dull doughnut of pseudo-agricultural nothingness.  The only interesting things there are gravel pits and reservoirs.  The green belt ought to be turned into real places for real people and real other creatures to live in, made green not by pseudo-agriculture, but by places of real beauty like Wimbledon Common and Richmond Park.

Thursday June 14 2018

Yes, here is the Royal Albert Hall, photoed by me this afternoon:

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That photo was taken early this afternoon.  I was there to hear GodDaughter2’s graduation recital in the Royal College of Music, which is just down the steps and across Prince Consort Road, south of the Albert Hall.  After I had heard GD2 do her singing, superbly, and after I and all her many other friends and family present had celebrated afterwards with her, I started to make my way home. 

Before leaving the vicinity of the College and the Albert Hall, I took more photos of the statue of Prince Albert that stands at the top of the steps, the other side of the Hall from the Albert Memorial.  In the photo above, you can hardly see the Prince Albert statue.  But later in the afternoon, the direction of the sunlight having altered, Albert was looking a lot better:

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The Royal Albert Hall is looking particular fine just now, because scaffolding.

Wednesday June 13 2018

For over a year now, I have been thinking that Jordan Peterson is a fascinating individual.  When he did that Cathy Newman interview and got truly famous, I thought that this was a significant historical event.  Among other things, I started thinking that he will raise the birth rate in the West, by urging its young citizens to be more ready to undertake the responsibilities of parenthood.

So, I found this comment, buried in lots of on-topic comments about this rather good interview of Jordan Peterson by Radio 3’s Philip Dodd, fascinating.  Fascinating as in: proves me right.  Right as in: a bit more right than before, not a lot but a bit.

Totally offtopic: is there a Jordan Peterson dating site for people who know about him?

Know about him as in: like him, agree with him, are fans of him.  But despite being a bit badly expressed, this is surely a highly significant question.  Well, I think so.

I just googled “jordan peterson dating site” and got some related stuff, but not any actual dating site.  But that doesn’t prove there isn’t one, and in any case, if there now isn’t one, there soon will be.

I have just fixed for my Last Friday of the Month meeting on July 27th to be on the subject of Jordan Peterson.  The speaker will be Tamiris Loureiro.

Tuesday June 12 2018

I love to photo the huge white, often plasticky, sheeting that they now seem always to cover scaffolding with.  You get delightful shapes and patterns, due to the way that this covering sort of shrink wraps itself around the scaffolding, either because it does actually shrink, or because it is stretched when attached, or because of the wind blowing it around, in or out.

Thus:

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When the sun shines through behind, you also get scaffolding shadows.

Thus:

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I make a point of photoing scaffolding and its covering whenever the sun is being directly reflected of it towards me, very brightly, as is happening in the above photo top right.  So I zoom in on such a spot.  When I do that, the automatic light reaction of my camera darkens everything, including even the sky, overdoing things absurdly, and creates a whole different effect, nothing like what I am seeing.  (Photography is light.)

Thus:

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Plus, there is the added bonus that soon, all this will be gone, and instead there will be a building.  This building will almost certainly be far duller than it looked while it was being constructed.

This particular building is just outside the 2 Chairmen pub, where I did my talk last night, and before which I took these photos,all within a few seconds of each other.

A BIT LATER:  I just posted the above.  Until I did, I was worried that these are stupid photos, not worth anyone else’s attention.  But as soon as I stuck them up, and looked at them, in their blogged setting, so to speak, they looked to me very good.

Monday June 11 2018

The talk in question being this.  I show this photo of my notes here more to remind me to keep thinking about this stuff, than to tell you what I was talking about.  For that, maybe better wait for the video.

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I spent most of my spare time today working on that, even though it may not look like it.  In the end I had far too much I wanted to say, but I did manage to blurt out a decent proportion of it.  The thing to remember in such circumstances is that they don’t know what you forgot to say.  They only know what you did say.  If that was okay, then it was okay.

There is one big misprint, towards the end.  Where it says “Era 2 effects”, twice over, the second “Era 2” should be “Era 1”.  This did not throw me.  I only just noticed it.

Sunday June 10 2018

Indeed:

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Taken by me in, I’m pretty sure, Earlham Street, which is one of the spokes that converges on Seven Dials.

The mirror is presumably there for people to see how potential purchases look on them.  But my first thought when I saw the mirror was: Is that for encouraging people to take selfies?  And I was happy to oblige.

Saturday June 09 2018

Yes, in Piccadilly Circus, photoed at the same time as those hair-patting ladies.  And this time, you know, just photoers, just photoing photos.

What strikes me is what a good camera I now have.  The light was not good.  I was there to meet up with someone, not to make the best of some sunny weather, because there was no sunny weather to be made the best of.  In the bad old days, when their were two zeroes in the years, most of these photos would have been an unsightly blur.  But now, the only thing I worry about is if there are recognisable faces on show:

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Once again, I made the selection of what to show here entirely by me liking the photo and you not seeing recognisable faces.  No thought was given to what sort of cameras were being used.  Which means that what cameras were actually being used becomes interesting and informative, like a small scientific experiment.

Once again, we observe the rise and rise of the smartphone as the preferred way for regular people to photo.  There are some Real Photographer cameras to be seen here.  And I think there always will be, because there will always be photoers for whom the best possible photos are the thing they want, and the best that a big old clunky machine can do will always be better that what a smartphone can do.

But, thinking about that some more, is that right?  Will there actually soon come a time when all photoing is done by little things the size of a biscuit?

And will there then be a Great Grumble from all the Real Photographers – a category which is maybe starting to include me - similar to the one when digital cameras first got going?

Friday June 08 2018

Following on from that earlier very vertical dragon photo, here’s some horizontality:

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Original photo, with explanation, here.

My thoughts and feelings towards these ladies can be summed up with the phrase unconditional positive regard.

Indeed:

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Photoed by me in the West End yesterday afternoon, prior to attending Lohengrin.

Other creatures don’t get any more other than that.

Thursday June 07 2018

This afternoon, I will journey to the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, to see and hear the first night, no less, of Lohengrin.  It will be deep into the darkness of the evening before I journey back home.  It will take, I believe, the best part of four hours.

According to this Summary and Comment:

It is difficult to find a role which is more handsome than Lohengrin. This is the reason why “Lohengrin” gained popularity among opera fans. The entrance scene on stage by a magic swan boat, and the dialogue scene with Elsa are outstanding.

In addition, the music of the scene of Elsa and Lohengrin’s wedding is known as the Wedding March. You can hear this March at many weddings these days.

That’s the conclusion of the comment bit about Lohengrin.

At the beginning of the summary bit, we learn that Lohengrin is set in “the first half of the tenth century”.

But if this ROH graphic (see here) is anything to go by, it will look, this evening, like this:

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But, he’s holding a sword.  And notice that shadow.  With luck, this will be effective rather than clunky, mindful rather than mindless updating of the setting.  I shall see.

And hear.  What I hear will not be updated and made more relevant.  That I can already be sure of.

Wednesday June 06 2018

I did a Samizdata posting today about the architect Patrik Schumacher, and his opinion that cities ought to be more created by market choices, and less by planning, than is customary today.

So, London.  Is it planned, or did it just happen?:

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That looks like a fairly happening sort of place, to my eye.

I love those little splashes of colour, in the middle.  Thank you Renzo Piano.  Here’s a photo, of (someone else’s photo of) Renzo Piano, which I took way back in 2007:

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I wouldn’t trust just any architect, merely because any architect is an architect.  But I would trust Renzo Piano.  The above colourful offices.  The Shard.

Shame they didn’t allow this.  A case of planning meaning preventing.  Which is mostly what it does mean, I suspect.

Tuesday June 05 2018

Yes, one of the more endearing things that lady photoers and their companions do just before photoing themselves is pat their hair:

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Next time you see a lady taking selfies, watch out for this.  Chances are she’ll oblige.  It never makes any difference, but they almost always do it.

I took those two photos at Piccadilly Circus yesterday.afternoon.  I like the scaffolding.  Not good enough to be worth photoing in its own right, but a nice background to those hair-patters.

Monday June 04 2018

imageI find signs to be an endless source of fun and revelation, and I frequently photo them.  So I was much entertained by this New York Times story, about a sign that went wandering.  Across the Atlantic Ocean.

Hurricane Sandy grabbed this sign from the town of Brielle, on the eastern coast of the USA, in October 2012.  But, on or around May 14th 2018:

A man walking along the Plage du Pin Sec, near Bordeaux, spotted it. The faded sign was missing a chunk, but he could still read the legend “Diane Turton Realtors 732-292-1400.”

“It was curious,” the man, Hannes Frank, 64, a semiretired software consultant who lives in Brussels, said by phone on Thursday. “I looked at it and found it quaint.”

And he got in touch with the enterprise advertised on the sign.  By their nature, signs can be very informative.

The NYT says that its preferred expert on flotsametrics reckons that, given how long this sign took to make its way to France, it may well have crossed the Atlantic not once, but three times.

Flotsametrics is the study of things that float.  Now that the Lefties – like the Lefties who own, run and write for the NYT - are giving up on the claim that capitalism is ruining the planet by ruining the weather, they are back to bitching about how capitalism squirts out lots of rubbish, and they have become particular obsessed with rubbish that hangs about in the sea, especially if it floats.  So this story is actually part of The Narrative, even though it is presumably also a genuine and a genuinely good story.

Once the capitalists work out how to transform all the world’s rubbish into – oh, I don’t know – something like gunk for 3D printers to turn into replacement body parts, the lefties will have to think of some other insult to throw at capitalism.  But for now, this rubbish thing is getting back to being their biggest complaint.  Again.

But just clearing the rubbish up is no good.  Oh no.  The rubbish must be stopped at source by stamping out capitalism, starting with plastic drinking straws.  The actual source of this oceanic rubbish is mostly rivers in poor countries.  But that’s a mere fact.  The Narrative is what matters.

This has been a spontaneous rant, which is why I am keeping it here, rather than switching it to there.

Sunday June 03 2018

One of my favourite public sculptures in London goes by the official name of Assembly.  This, or perhaps it should be “these”, stand outside of the Woolwich Arsenal, on the south side of the river, downstream of the centre of London.

I photoed these militaristic characters a while back.  Here is how they look, in their local context:

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I did a posting here about them.

Here is one of the photos I showed in that posting:

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That’s actually the inside of the head of one of these men, but your eye is telling you that this is a regular head, rather than any sort of concaveness.  Yet concaveness is what it is.  Your brain insists on telling you it’s a regular head, and you can’t successfully tell it any different.

Here’s another of these head-shaped holes, and this time it is a lot easier to see what is really going on, because there is a bit of context.  Also present is a spider’s web, visibly flat, which couldn’t be if the head was sticking out like a regular head.

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And now here is another photo which makes everything clear, by turning the head entirely black:

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No chance, therefore, for the brain to misinterpret what’s going on.

The reason I was reminded of these sorts of optically illusional images is that I am currently reading this book, which is about how the brain in particular sees things, and in general makes sense of things.  This was recommended by Alastair James, commenting on this earlier posting.

The point being that it isn’t just the brain that “makes” all this sense.  The process of “making” sense takes place at all levels within the brain/nervous system.  Your retina, for instance, is already prejudiced, so to speak, in how it looks at things.

Put it this way.  The phrase that has kept on rattling around in my head while I’ve been reading this book is the title of another book, by Karl Popper, Conjectures and Refutations.  We don’t just passively soak up information, and then only a bit later “make” sense of it.  Our sense organs are all the time imposing intelligent guesses upon what we are experiencing.

That summary probably isn’t that good.  But I’ve only on page 40 and I’ve been finding it pretty hard going.

The last photo above reminds me of the picture in this Samizdata posting that I did a year ago.

Saturday June 02 2018

Indeed:

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Usual story.  Started to write a piece for here.  Realised it would go better there.  Carried on writing it anyway.  So, here?  That.

Friday June 01 2018

I kid you not:

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West Japan Railway Co. said Friday it will begin operating a Hello Kitty-themed shinkansen on June 30.

The interior and seats of the 500-series shinkansen, to be used for daily round trips between Shin-Osaka Station in Osaka Prefecture and Hakata in Fukuoka Prefecture, will feature Sanrio Co.’s Hello Kitty character, the railway operator said.

The special train, to be decorated with pink ribbons like the character, will be used to promote local attractions and specialty goods, and passengers will have the chance to pose for photos with a big Hello Kitty doll.

I can’t shake the feeling that I’ve been had by Japan’s answer to the Daily Mash, or that all this was first announced on April 1st.  Nevertheless, it does seem to be a real thing.