Brian Micklethwait's Blog

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

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Category archive: Transport

Thursday March 26 2015

Is it a bird?

Yes:

image

Is it a plane?

Yes:

image

And it’s also a partial eclipse of the sun.

We had this in London, earlier in the week.  All I remember is that I, one of the seemingly small minority of people who realise that Britain’s next day weather forecasts are accurate, ignored it, knowing that it would be clouded out of view.

Which it was.

A routinely good way to photo something which is only quite interesting is to line it up with something else that is similarly quite interesting.  The result can be very interesting.

Monday March 23 2015

First, an outstanding White Van photo snapped from what looks like the inside of a cafe, by Simon Gibbs, to whom profuse thanks:

image

I’ve been photoing White Vans for a month and more, but have never got three of them in one go like that.  That arrived chez moi first thing this morning.

And then, to my amazement, this was this at Guido, also today:

image

That’s right.  Labour have launched there very own White Van!  You wouldn’t dare make that up.  I knew I was onto something with all this White Vannery.

The problem for the Labour Party here is that Essex White Van Man, the original beast, doesn’t work as an employee driver for Wellocks, or for Office Revival or for Yate Supplies (these being the enterprises who own and whose glory is proclaimed by Simon’s three White Vans above), and certainly not for the Labour Party.  He has his own White Van, which is entirely white, as you can see when you peruse that original tweet that got all this fuss started:

image

That snap being a recent one of mine.  And, as Guido points out, a proper Essex White Van is not a Merc, as the Labour White Van is.  He doesn’t go on to say that it should be a Ford Transit, as above, but it should.  The White Van in the original tweet is a Transit.

This new Labour White Van is supposed to separate Labour from the la-di-da world of London and to assert its connection to the common (i.e. non-rich-London) man.  But it fails to do this, because, as these recent White Van postings of mine have been explaining, White Vans covered in poncey graphics are now quintessentially London.  I assume that they have also become quintessentially Wigan and quintessentially Rotherham and for that matter quintessential Dagenham.  But I further assume that when true-blue Wiganians and Rotherhamians and Dagenhamians look at them, they see, not their local culture, but cultural imperialism by bloody London.

(Damn.  I did everything to this posting put actually post it “today”, so I’m leaving the date I originally attached to it.  Cheating I know but it talks about Monday as today, so Monday it is.)

Thursday March 19 2015

Following on from yesterday’s White Van, here is another White Van, which marks the moment when I first started really noticing these things.  It was parked outside an office just round the corner from my front door:

image

Let’s take a closer look at the driver’s door of this White Van.  Because the exact moment when the whole White Van thing clicked inside my head was when I saw, and photoed, this:

image

There you go.  They’re having a laugh about White Van Man.  I told you it was a thing.

This happened on December 17th of last year, which was about a month after the Shadow Ministress did her tweet that cost her her shadow job.  But they’ve been driving around in that joke since well before all that, as this blog posting from April of last year proves.

And I know this got me thinking about White Vans, because the very next photos I took were of this:

image

I had been noticing this other White Van hanging around near my home, but until that moment I had not considered it something worth photoing.  Then, I did.  And, off an on, I’ve been photoing such vans ever since, although few of them as lavishly decorated as that one.

Wednesday March 18 2015

Ever since that ruckus when a Labour Shadow Cabinet Ministress got into hot water with a tweet which involved a White Van, I’ve been photoing White Vans.  And, in fact, I think I have been doing this since before that little drama.  This White Van, photoed by me today in the Covent Garden area, is one of my favourites so far:

image

The point is, White Vans have rather gone up in the world.  Lots of them now come with much carefully designed décor and info.  London now abounds with fleets of White Vans thus decorated, white being the preferred colour by far.  It’s like an automotive uniform.

It’s as if White Vans have a sort of macho-stroke-ironic appeal to those who drive them, and to the rest of us.  The drivers, when asked what they do for a living, can say: I drive a White Van.  Oh, ha ha ha!  But no, not one of those White Vans, the sort they have in Essex.  Oh no.

Or alternatively, if the driver is a genuine White Van Man, with no irony involved, of the sort that lady politician was having a go at, he’s happy too, even if he would probably prefer plain white, rather than all that poncey verbiage.  And he’d rather have sacks of cement or tubs of plaster in the back there, rather than nerdy SF stuff.

Well, not sure about that.  But White Vans are definitely, as they say nowadays, a thing.

Tuesday March 10 2015

Late this afternoon I went walkabout near to where I live, and in particular to photo my local ballerina, at the top end of Victoria Street.  There’s lots of building going on around her, so the nearby and behind scenery keeps changing.  My favourite shot of her today was this:

image

At the time, that bus driving by seemed like it was an interruption, but now I think it definitely adds something, to a part of the shot which wouldn’t have been half so interesting without it.

Saturday February 28 2015

I just googled “3D printing” and clicked on “images”.  One of the more interesting images I encountered was this one ...:

image

… which I found here.  The point being that this is one of those technologies which lots of people are getting excited about, perhaps as something they might be able to do themselves, for fun but also for profit.  But most of the significant early applications of 3D printing seem now to be by businesses which were already making stuff, and now have another way to make it.  Regular thing makers (for those not inclined to follow links that’s a link to pieces about the use of 3D printing by the aerospace industry) have a huge advantage over “home” 3D printers, which is that they already know what would be worth making.

And making in quite large quantities, which means that they can acquire or construct highly specialised 3D printers for those particular items, which use their own very particular material inputs.  3D printers, if they are to pay their way, must surely specialise.  Which means they’ll be applied first by businessmen, rather than by mere people in their homes.

I have yet to hear about any 3D printing killer app which will kick off the much talked-of but yet-to-occur home 3D printing revolution.  It will come, I’m sure.  But it hasn’t come yet.

Wednesday February 18 2015

Today was the first first day of spring, so to speak.  By this I mean that it was the first day of 2015 which made in clear that winter would eventually end and that summer would eventually arrive.  Cool, but blue sky and sunshine.  Meanwhile, winter may soon resume but spring at least is now officially on its way, and will happen.

As a technically rather incompetent photographer, heavily dependent on good light, I rejoice.  The season of rootling through the archives is nearly over.  The season of adding to the archives is getting started.

And, also today, I went to a funeral, in Salisbury, which is about an hour and half out of London by train, in a south westerly direction.  The last time I ventured out of London into that part of England that is not-London for a ceremony, the weather was similarly excellent

As soon as we stepped out of Salisbury station, strange and exotic sights presented themselves, such as this Stonehenge Tour Bus:

image

But there was something odd about it.  It appeared to be leaning over somewhat, away from us.  When I got round to the front of it, I saw that appearances had not deceived.  It was leaning over:

image

How can a bus do that?  Was the suspension malfunctioning?  Was the Stonehenge Bus leaning over on purpose, in order to help a wheelchair bound passenger to embark?  Was it partly parked on the pavement, and was a suspension computer overcompensating?  Was there a kink in the road, downwards, next to the pavement?

I couldn’t hang about to investigate or to ask.  We had a funeral to get to.  But, odd.

Friday February 13 2015

I just came across this Economist piece from last November (I think that link will keep on working), saying that there may soon be ultra-cheap trans-Atlantic flights.  I did not know this.

Norwegian Air Shuttle, a low-cost carrier that has been expanding rapidly across Europe, has begun flying across the Atlantic and to Thailand. Next March Wow Air, an Icelandic carrier, will start flights on routes such as Boston to London, via Reykjavik, with introductory prices as low as $99 one way.

Time was when …:

… the fuel burned by long-haul planes made up a large proportion of the cost of operating the flights. That made it hard for budget carriers to find enough cost savings elsewhere to cut prices sufficiently to tempt flyers to switch from carriers offering more comforts.

This is now changing, with the launches of some new and far more fuel-efficient planes: Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner, already in the air, Airbus’s A350, which will start flying within weeks, and a revamped version of Airbus’s A330, coming in 2019. Ryanair’s boss, Michael O’Leary, recently reiterated a promise that he would eventually sell transatlantic flights from as little as €10 ($13) one-way and with average return fares of around €200-300. The full-service airlines will also be ordering these new planes, but their cost disadvantage compared with the nimble budget carriers (because of such things as their legacy pension schemes and labour agreements) will become more stark.

Perhaps I will one day set foot in the USA after all.

As for that Economist link above, no, unless you subscribe.  You have to google “making laker’s dream come true”.  Then you can read it.

Or: this link seems to get you straight to a recycled version of the piece.

Cheap long-haul flights coming soon
Miniature photographic fakery
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A photographer from the I Just Like It directory
Christmas Day photos
Sign blocked by surveillance camera
Marginal Eurostar economics
A small photo posting
My chance to ride a bus almost as old as me
In which I quotulate from a photo of a Canadian train
And now a photo-drone in a London shop window
MDL and DPD delivered what they promised but were wrong about me having to be there to sign for it
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A tumult of cranes (and the Spraycan)
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ASI Boat Trip 9: The man driving the boat
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Jiaozhou Bay Bridge (aka Spaghetti Junction on Sea)
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New train
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Under Blackfriars Bridge
“In order to comply with Google’s regulations …”
Zooming in on that approaching bus
Seven London bridges from the ME Hotel Radio Bar
Photoing the A380 from above – from the ground
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Could I please walk on Norman Foster’s proposed bike-ways above the trains (and take photos)?
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The Kelpies of Falkirk
Happiness is Gold Blend at only £3 instead of £4.50
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Eurostar before St Pancras
Sperm Bike
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Smaller is more legible – big is more fun
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Owl at Canning Town railway station
Morgan – Abbey reflected in Morgan – Abbey reflected in other cars
Huge semi-submersible ships
Baltimore: cranes - a bridge - scaffolding
London Gateway from above
New apostrophe-shaped footbridge in Hull
An old Mini and a new Mini
A scaffolder likes Jeremy Clarkson
BMdotCOM insult of the day
Views from the Hackney Wick station footbridge
Reflections on a strange coincidence involving an Android app and a malfunctioning bus stop sign
Feynman Diagrams on the Feynman van
Wedding photography (3): Technology as sculpture
A Fleet Street lunch
Remembering a warmer day
Crossrail grubbings
Art without Artists
Giant cranes made in China for new London super-port in Thurrock
Alastair James on Blythe Hill Fields and smartphones
Waterloo Station’s new upper deck
At the bottom of the Shard
Reflections on and in Westminster Tube Station
Looking along Victoria Street to The Wheel (and on how to be liked (or disliked) by Google)
Big London Things with clutter in the foreground
XXL?
A new crane has already arrived
Here are (a lot) more photos that I took on March 27th
BrianMicklethwaitDotCom internet headline of the day
Michael Jennings on how the taxis at Skopje airport are an evil racket and what he did about it
Does anyone know how I can straighten these gasometers?
It got my attention
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This is transport
Beware the Men In Orange!
Viaduct from above
Photographers at Eros and Art in the tube
The Shard looking like it’s in a 1950s postcard
Steve Baker MP
Space launch monster
Today I’m in a “How very odd!” mood
Ancient and modern (but mostly ancient) cars in Regent Street yesterday
Transport photos
London from the east
Summer blogging break
Quimper cat on Harley-Davidson
The Royal Victoria Dock is not (but looks like) a transporter bridge
Quota hedgehog sculpture
A favourite Sunday snap
Collision photo
BrianMicklethwaitDotCom narcissistic self-quote of the day
Even the Goodyear Blimp is now obsessed with safety
More signs of the times
Strata from a station
The Big Dig and some smaller digging
Signs - all in my bit of one railway carriage
That’s what I call a Health and Safety Notice
The bike behind the theatre
Self portrait plus meaning of life
Clumbersome
A Spanish geography lesson
A Spanish high speed train bridge and a Spanish aqueduct
And here’s the proof!!!  Sixteen little square pictures!!!
Transport redirect
The Brusio spiral viaduct also looks like a toy train layout
Adverts on taxis and cars
Transport Blog restarts
Beyond the Dome with Goddaughter One
Google rolls out computer controlled cars
Another strangely punctuated headline and a depressing television play
More bridge magic
The Razor through a bus and without the bus
Real life toy trains
Mmmmm … bookshelves!
Farnborough (5): Supacat Bloodhound Falcon
Farnborough redirect
Lynxes and an A380
A response to the cyclist menace
Pink railway clutter
I do love a steam train on a viaduct
Big box computers versus laptops
Soviet space leftovers
Light and shade
When the foreground tries to ruin the shot - but only makes it better!
Rubbish bridge in Shangai
Car in in front of sloping houses
Airplanes converted into architecture
How my camera and the internet explained an old bus
Quota vapour trail
Six lions on a white Mercedes bonnet
I never knew Marmite came in tanker lorries
Biker shadow
Sushi and scaffolding at Victoria
Why do pregnant women now do quite a lot of driving of their husbands?
SAY NO TO GOVERNMENT MOTORS
Towers under the weather - and a steam engine steams to the rescue
Free Skullcandy on a bus in snowy Edinburgh
Three airplane photos
Osprey pictures
The Shard is definitely being built!
Strange purple cat with four eyes
Wuhan railway station under construction - with sunset behind
Of lists and distant totally photorealistic skyscrapers
Slumponomics
More recorded cricket chat and some further Oval hindsights
Model T parts flatvert
Back lit by the sun
Stuff in the foreground I wasn’t expecting
Instapundit turns into Idiot Toys
Hotelicopter
Bike made entirely of wood
Toys and big toys
Acton
Unamazing photo of amazing road
Who is Arnold Leah?
The Long Walk is easier if you have a couple of horses pulling you
Parliament photoed by a bus!
Flat train picture and regular train picture
Thames river boats
It could be a rather small funeral
Roll out the Lino
I am not drunk - I just didn’t know what to put so I just started
Random links
Old postage stamps
Another fine day and more not Billion Monkey pictures
Cat Car
Palming them off with a sunset
A movie staircase and a window
That went okay
Nothing here again
If it’s not Art it can be rather fun
Number on a bus roof
Tama the feline stationmaster saves the Wakayama Electric Railway Co.
A thin bridge in Wales
Another great viaduct
Switching from dumb bombing to smart bombing
Billion Monkeys close up and London from far above!
To Greenwich by train and back by bus
Birds
Clarkson on Sarah Jessica Parker
Two adverts in the tube
Crackers
The original Burtynsky Nanpu bridge picture
What I have seen so far while abroad
Here they stand
Ducks - frogs - turtles – beavers – Galaxy Quest
Those were the days and these are no longer the days
Wired bridges
Giant table football table and hamster powered cars
Why it helps to be exposed to the lower classes and to dogs when you are young
Classic car thinness
Travis Perkins of Pimlico Road are not good at delivering timber
Airplane over Putney
Celebrating a victory
The Gatwick Beehive
Big, Bigger, Biggest - starring Heathrow Terminal 5
Wedding photo
The Rite of Spring sounds to me like technology rather than nature
Meltdown in Russia … and New Zealand
The moving bridges of Chicago
Toshiba’s violin playing robot
I love the internet
At Bethnal Green railway station
Flat viaduct and spiral bridge
LAHTML
Michael Jennings on telecoms at Samizdata
It’s true what they say about how hard it is to pronounce Chinese – oh beansprouts!
More horizontal thinness
Blurry Billion Monkey on bus in front of even blurrier Wheel
Not obviously but maybe …
Guess the city (2)
Billion Monkey Maria Sharapova lookalikes!!!
Talking about St Pancras at St Pancras
Another cat!
Millau Viaduct with goats
More St Pancras snaps
Long train with mountains
Thin Canadian bridge
The space between the buildings
Hear ye hear ye
For Skimbleshanks read Tizer
Tinsley Viaduct
Eurostar says goodbye Waterloo hello St Pancras
The A380 bulge
Fourteen British viaducts
A train called Professor George Gray
Cat power!
Photos - four transport - two artistic
Fly-pasts - air displays - crashes
Renaissance Man
Feral Real Photographers and naughty Billion Monkey!
Further pictorial shallowness
The cranes are migrating to China and Michael Jennings will be talking about China
Engadgetry
Lots of links
Billion Monkeys photo spaceship launch!
Voluntary World 3: Transport Blog illustrates the Muggins principle
Bridge over bright water
City Cat runs on air
Sunset with bike
Free trade explains the success of the Swedish Model
Assorted London quota photos
Toy train to Darjeeling
It’s Friday again
Zong
Just making conversation
Halo over Oxford Circus
London tricyclists are getting strong
Amazing map of amazing new Moscow bridge
A spring in their step
New Moscow road bridge
Dirty vapour trail over London
Robot car park in New York
Very very low cost kitten in space
World War One talk at Christian Michel’s
I am about to become a published photographer
The Dyson DC14
Billion Monkeys and people waving blue things!
No more photos for a bit after these ones
Happy day after Christmas Day
Big ships
By the rivers and canals of East London with Goddaughter One
Billion Monkeys photograph things!
Pictures of and from Albert Bridge
Geek girl I like your thinkings - are nice - I want have sex with it
Airship over the Wheel
Two sunset photos
Antoine Clarke and I don’t talk about elections
Grassy car with blog
A very small A380
Tourists on the move
Sssssssss!!!! White man!  Take my photo!!
Cute Brazilian car
A little transport history
Car attack – the plot thickens
Patrick Crozier talks with me about Japan
Patrick and Brian mp3 about libertarianism and spreading libertarianism
Bartók outside South Kensington tube
Happy trails
I also miss Transport Blog
A car called Jesus
Presumably the noise is not a problem
Chrysler 300C with bling
Non-zero tolerance at Clapham Junction
The Hungerford footbridges
The Falkirk Wheel
Watching them watching me
Another Billion Monkey and some Celluloid Gorillas in Victoria Street
Coming soon
Capitalism sermons and Bentley wings
Tube photos
A kink in the Range Rover grill
Bugatti Veyron
Nice view
Comedy tonight and another car headlight today
Looking at the cars
Inflight entertainment and information
Two Ambassadors and a blurry cyclist
Picture of a star riding in a stretch limo
So that’s this done
Rolls Royces
Some art to be linked to from elsewhere
Look what I saw from the airplane