Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
Brian Micklethwait on Big Things blocked by the trees of Southwark Park
Carolyn Mohr on The ups and downs of English
Michael Jennings on Big Things blocked by the trees of Southwark Park
priscila on The ups and downs of English
Simon Gibbs on Wedding photography (4): Preparations
6000 on Bookshops as Amazon showrooms
Darren on Bookshops as Amazon showrooms
Michael Jennings on Wedding photography (2): Signs
MarkR on Feynman Diagrams on the Feynman van
MNB Achari on Google Nexus 4 photos
Most recent entries
- Pictures from Georgia and Warsaw
- Cats without tails are not scary
- Big Things blocked by the trees of Southwark Park
- Wedding photography (4): Preparations
- Bookshops as Amazon showrooms
- Reflections on a strange coincidence involving an Android app and a malfunctioning bus stop sign
- Feynman Diagrams on the Feynman van
- Rothko Toast
- Wedding photography (3): Technology as sculpture
- And another posting from my smartphone
- Posted from my new smartphone
- Google Nexus 4 photos
- Wedding photography (2): Signs
- Wedding photography (1): The superbness of the weather
- A Fleet Street lunch
Other Blogs I write for
6000 Miles from Civilisation
A Decent Muesli
Adventures in Capitalism
Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise
Another Food Blog
Antoine Clarke's Election Watch
Armed and Dangerous
Art Of The State Blog
Boatang & Demetriou
Burning Our Money
Chase me ladies, I'm in the cavalry
China Law Blog
Civilian Gun Self-Defense Blog
Coffee & Complexity
Communities Dominate Brands
Confused of Calcutta
Conservative Party Reptile
Counting Cats in Zanzibar
Deleted by tomorrow
Don't Hold Your Breath
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Dr Robert Lefever
Englands Freedome, Souldiers Rights
Everything I Say is Right
Fat Man on a Keyboard
Ferraris for all
Freedom and Whisky
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Here Comes Everybody
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we make money not art
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Category archive: Transport
A few days ago I visited Chateau Samizdata. While there, I picked the brain of its Chatelaine on the subject of my Google Nexus 4, because she now has one of these also.
She showed me various useful tricks. In particular she showed me – and helped me to download – an Android app called BUS LONDON, which identifies the bus stops nearest to wherever you are, and tells you what buses are about to arrive at each stop, when, and where they are headed.
BUS LONDON, in other words, provides you with information like this:
That is a photo I took last night at a bus stop near me. I have always, in my pre BUS LONDON life, found such signs to be immensely useful because so very reassuring. A bus to where I want to go will almost certainly be coming, quite soon, is the message I get, and it is most welcome when you consider the alternative. But only some bus stops have these excellent signs. Hence the value of an app like BUS LONDON.
Irritatingly, however, when I was at Chateau Samizdata, BUS LONDON refused to tell me about the bus stop that I was about to use. This is because this bus stop is a bit further away from CS than it might have been, but is worth the short extra walk because of the greater choice of buses that it offers me. This is a stop that buses converge on, so to speak. But once I got near enough to it, BUS LONDON obliged with all the relevant information.
However, when I arrived at the bus stop, which also has an electric sign like the one in the photograph above, this is what I saw:
I stared and stared at this to see if anything further would happen, but nothing did. This is something I have never seen before. Usually these signs either work, almost always, or occasionally do not work and are blank. Never before have I seen a sign behaving like an 80s personal computer, by publicising its problems like this and getting stuck.
Quite a coincidence, I think you will agree. Within about an hour of acquiring BUS LONDON, I encounter a bus stop sign that fails to tell me what is due, but no matter, because I now have BUS LONDON to tell me!
I could not shake the feeling that my Google Nexus 4 had sucked all the information out of the sign, into itself, leaving the sign utterly confused.
If you think the reflections of all this info are not strictly necessary, and that the reflections might have been cropped out, well, true, but I do like reflections.
Here is the reflection of the first sign, the one near me, rotated and reversed to make it easily legible:
Off topic, but I like it. If you think this reflection to be an irrelevance, then I suggest you redo this posting on your blog, with the first two images cropped, the final image omitted, and these last two paragraphs also omitted. What? You can’t be bothered? Suit yourself.
As do I. Suiting myself being what this blog is for.
I greatly enjoyed the documentary about Richard Feynman shown on BBC2 TV last night, having already greatly enjoyed the docu-drama about the Feynman Challenger investigation.
Last night’s documentary contained the following particularly choice piece of dialogue:
“Why is your van covered in Feynman Diagrams?”
“Because we’re the Feynmans.”
There is a picture of the Feynmans, next to their van, which I found here, where the picture is slightly bigger.
Does this van still exist, with all the Feynman Diagrams on it? I hope so.
So anyway, back to that wedding. (Here are (1) and (2).) I’ve started so I’ll finish. All the pictures for all these postings are chosen, arranged, uploaded, ready to go. All that remains is for me to add a bit of waffle.
I should perhaps here explain that I was the first guest to arrive at the wedding, by more than an hour. Hence the number of photos here – the previous posting in this series, this one, and the next one - of things without people. It’s not that I suppose weddings to be better without people, or that I dislike people. Not at all. It is merely that near the start of my day, I suddenly had a lot of time to fill. So, one of the things I did to amuse myself was take photos like these:
Spot the odd one out, the unsentimental, here-and-now, nostalgia-free technology.
Is that what future generations will mostly see of the way we now live?
LATER: That was quick.
Lunchtime O’Booze is the name given by Private Eye to a certain vintage of Fleet Street era (i.e. when they really all did work in or near to Fleet Street) journo. One of these (now long retired) characters was staying with me earlier this week, kipping down on my sofa-bed to be precise. Tony now lives in France, but he was over here for a few days, to participate in a lunch, with a dozen or more of his old Fleet Street cronies.
I met up with Tony on Sunday evening, and we dined out, very well. Thanks to my twiddly screen, I was able to take photos of him like this, with the camera resting in the middle of the table, and me just looking down at it:
Tony looks rather like one of those South African type villains in The Saint, which I have been watching lately from time to time, waiting for the IPL to start on ITV4.
Next day, Tony departed for the lunch. Ring me when it’s over, I said, maybe we can do something in the evening. Nine hours later, Tony rings to say he’ll be back soon, and eleven hours later he is. I feared drunken disruption. Which I would have survived. Tony has been very hospitable to me over the years. But the evening ended very pleasantly.
To give you a further idea of what kind of lunch it was, here is a limerick, which Tony brought back from it:
An Argentine gaucho named Bruno
Said I’ll tell you something I do know
Girls are just fine
And boys are divine
But a llama is numero uno
And here is a photo, taken by someone else with Tony’s phone:
The big guy - a very big guy indeed - in the middle used to play prop forward for the Harlequins and is now a wine correspondent, the sort of bloke who has a special table in his home for drinking guests under. The ultimate oh-stay-a-bit-longer-and-have-another-one bloke. I think the guy on the right drives new cars for a living, in such places as the south of France, and then writes about them. Certainly, someone of this kind was involved.
Do not ask men like this to drink and drive. They just might do it.
British Summer Time began last Sunday, and I surely wasn’t the only Brit taken by surprise. According to our excellent and invariably accurate short range weather forecasters (the long range climate guessers are something else entirely), the current (bitterly) cold spell that we are enduring will only end around the middle of this month.
On April 20th, two friends of mine are to be married, hopefully in the warm outdoors, and I hope to be taking photos of it, in the warm outdoors. They hope, as do I, that the cold will soon abate. Fingers crossed. The weather is getting sunnier now, but is still amazingly cold. Coldest March Britain has had for over half a century, they are saying. It was several years ago now that they (i.e. the long range climate guessers) changed Global Warming to Climate Chaos. Wise move. Wiser would have been to shut the fuck up and let Western Civilisation (a) proceed without them fucking with it, and (b) deal with any climate dramas if and when.
Meanwhile, the cold has kept me from roaming London taking snaps during the last week or two. Instead I roam through my recent archives, looking for interesting snaps taken on warmer days.
Here are some more:
This time there are more of those commonplace things that look better in good photos, as I hope you think these somewhat are, than they do when you actually see them. That’s if you even do see them, as in notice them.
Besides which, a double decker bus advert may be pretty obvious stuff to a fellow Londoner. But what if you are one of those lost souls who lives outside London? Or worse, who has never even been to London? Or perhaps never even set eyes on a double decker bus? A double decker bus advert must seem, to such a person, almost unbearably exotic and glamorous.
Note, in the first picture, top left, reflections of these buildings.
“Grubbings” is a word I inherited from my late father, along with his fondness for the thing that grubbings describes. Grubbings are big building projects in their early, especially below ground level, stage, when they are … well: grubbing, rather than building upwards. My father loved grubbings, and so do I.
It’s often hard to photo grubbings, because they often put a high fence around them and there’s no convenient high-up spot nearby to look over. But at this site, you can climb up some steps (top left) to a Centre Point entrance on the first floor, and photo through the mesh that you see in most of the other pictures.
Even with the internet, it can be hard to know how these kind of things are going to end up. Okay, here are these computer fakes of how they had in mind two years ago for it to be, but who knows if that’s still what they’re thinking.
There is also the fact that there are often so many images of how, at various stages in the design, they envisaged things looking, that it’s hard for a more casual onlooker to keep up. Simpler to just wait and see.
It reminds me of how the Brits confused the Argies during that Brits versus Argies war. Instead of not telling the Argies their plan, the Brits did tell the Argies their plan, and all the other plans the Brits might just as likely be following. The British newspapers were full to the brim with every imaginable plan. And the Argies were baffled, trapped in the headlights of too much information, all of it suspect of course. That’s sometimes how I feel when trying (admittedly not very hard) to find out how some big grubbings in a big city like London are going to end up looking.
Recently I recycled, at Samizdata, some thoughts about Art from favourite blogger of mine Mick Hartley.
On the subject of “as found” art, the sort when it’s Art entirely because the Artist says so, without having done anything else himself besides stick the thing in an Art gallery, Hartley said this:
The logical conclusion to this line of thinking would be that if anything can be art if its maker wishes it to be art, then anything or everything can be art – and we don’t need artists any more. Curiously this is an argument that artists themselves seem reluctant to make.
I just know that there is a connection between what Hartley says there, and Hartley’s (and my) habit of taking photos (and showing the photos of others) of industrial clutter, outdoor gadgetry (such as the communications kit you see on roofs), decaying infrastructure, etc., that resembles abstract art.
The point of such pictures is that you do not only perceive the objects you are photo-ing as things doing a job of some kind, that is, the way their original creators mostly, presumably, perceived them. You see them almost as disembodied effects, quite distinct from what the kit was originally built for, and often no longer even seeing what the objects once were or still are. You see them the way you see abstract art.
(Related to all this is that I like cranes, but what I really like is how they look (like very superior sculpture), rather than: how they work, which is best, which sort does what, etc. (Here is a Hartley crane snap I just found.))
I say you see all this stuff “almost” as disembodied effects. But I think a lot of the fun is that you can also see what they are originally, even as you observe their aesthetic pleasingness or oddity, or resemblance to some particular work of art or type of art. The pleasure you get is a bit like with those pictures which could be two different things, like an old ugly woman or a beautiful young woman, depending on whether you see that bit as an arm or a nose, or whatever. Is it what it merely “is”? Or is it Art?
Hartley is particularly fond of bright colour effects. As are many more recent sculptors.
In connection with all this, here are four snaps taken by me on Tuesday Feb 19th, when I went on a trip to check out Blythe Hill Fields:
Top left was taken on the way, through a train window. Bottom right was taken on the way home, at Whitechapel tube. The other two were taken in the Blythe Hill Fields vicinity.
Those Artists surely do still have a role in all this, because we photographers of abstract-art-like stuff are responding to their challenges. We are saying: We don’t need you. We can see our own Art, thank you. Mondrian rectangles? I’ll give you rectangles. Big crazy sculptures made of industrial waste? Why not photo … industrial waste? And so on. We are both acknowledging the power of and (some of us – like me and Hartley) seeking to diminish the power of the Artists.
The artists have been telling the rest of us to see and enjoy the real world in new and interesting ways, and we are doing that. They started this.
The question is not so much: Are the Artists necessary? They have been, to the process I have described. But: Can they stay ahead? Can they keep on setting new challenges, or do I and Mick Hartley and all the other As Found Art photoers end up being our own artists?
I am groping my way into this subject. The above may be a muddle. But there is something interesting in among all this, I think.
A final Hartley photographic link that also seems relevant.
I recommend trawling back through his blog, as I just did.
LATER: And, as if he’s determined to illustrate all of the above further, there is now this.
Bosses moving three of the world’s largest quay cranes cannot give an exact arrival date as they could be delayed en route from China.
The 138m tall, semi-automatic cranes are taller than the London Eye and weigh 1,848 tonnes.
Semi-automatic? Does that make them assault cranes?
They are to go here. I smell photo ops.
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
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
Tower Bridge with railway clutter in the foreground
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
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
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
A Spanish geography lesson
A Spanish high speed train bridge and a Spanish aqueduct
And here’s the proof!!! Sixteen little square pictures!!!
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
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
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
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
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
Bike made entirely of wood
Toys and big toys
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
Old postage stamps
Another fine day and more not Billion Monkey pictures
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
Clarkson on Sarah Jessica Parker
Two adverts in the tube
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
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
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
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
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
Eurostar says goodbye Waterloo hello St Pancras
The A380 bulge
Fourteen British viaducts
A train called Professor George Gray
Photos - four transport - two artistic
Fly-pasts - air displays - crashes
Feral Real Photographers and naughty Billion Monkey!
Further pictorial shallowness
The cranes are migrating to China and Michael Jennings will be talking about China
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
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
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
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
Capitalism sermons and Bentley wings
A kink in the Range Rover grill
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
Some art to be linked to from elsewhere
Look what I saw from the airplane