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: Movies

Wednesday June 08 2016

I love to write about digital photography, and have been tracking the selfie phenomenon since long before the mere word was invented, way back in the days when I referred to digital photographers as Billion Monkeys (which I don’t anymore (because some people thought I meant Muslims)).  (But also way back in the days when I didn’t worry about showing the faces of strangers, the way I worry now.) And I also enjoy often public sculpture, especially of the more recent and less abstract sort.

So, I love this:

image

There have been complaints, of course, such as from all the commenters there at the Daily Mail.  God forbid that vulgar people should find this vulgar statue so much fun.  Sculpture is Art, and Art isn’t supposed to be amusing.

One of the Daily Mail’s other photos is of bloke photoing himself with his own mobile, in front of the selfie statue.  But I prefer the more subtle response that consists of simply being photoed joining in, thus:

image

For once, the statueness, so to speak, of the statue, the fact that it is made of monochrome metal rather than realistically painted to look like real people, works really well, because it contrasts so nicely with the real people.  It helps that it seems to be exactly life size.

One of the idiot grumpy commenters at the Daily Mail said that Sugar Land is a stupid name and they were obviously desperate for some attention, which they have never had until now.  But wasn’t there a Goldie Hawn movie called The Sugarland Express, or some such thing?  Yes there was.  Early Spielberg.  But, is Sugar Land the same as Sugarland?

According to a later Daily Mail report, it isn’t only their grumpy commentariat that objects to this statue.  Could this be because a lot of people heard about this story partly through the Daily Mail, and those people being the sort that hears about things via the Daily Mail, immediately started objecting, because they object to everything.  Whereas, the ones who liked it hadn’t heard about it so much.

I first found about the statue via Amusing Planet, so of course I was already self-identified as the sort who would be amused.  It was just that the Daily Mail had better pictures.

Monday June 06 2016

For years I have wondered how to put videos done by others at this blog.  My problem has always been that they were too big.  560 pixels wide instead of 500 pixels, which is the width here.  This evening, I thought I observed that “Brexit: The Movie”, as shown at Bishop Hill, was the exact same width as stuff at my blog.  So, I rootled around in the source code for the Bishop’s posting of Brexit, and dug up what seemed to be the relevant bit.  It turned out I was wrong about the width.  It was 560, same as it always seems to be, But having got this far I tried just changing the bit in the code where it said “560” to “500”, and that seemed to work.  The video seemed to get a bit smaller.  (I changed 500 to 300 just to be sure I wasn’t imagining it.) I did some more sums, which told me to change 315 to 280, and here it is, 500 pixels wide, fingers crossed:

There is some kind of EUro-metaphor or EUro-moral buried in this story, concerning believing that a straight-jacket was actually tighter and more rigid than it really was, but I’m too tired to be bothering about that.

Tomorrow, I will watch it.

Friday May 20 2016

For years I have struggled, with the graphics programme I have been using, to crop, not square (an option this programme does offer), and not to a size I specify (ditto), but to a ratio that I specify.  For years, I could not do that.  I repeatedly searched for such a thing, in other programmes, but evidently didn’t pick the right words.

Then, in France, I couldn’t remember the mere name (on such things do decisions hinge) of my regular photo-editing package, so I loaded PhotoCat, basically because it had “cat” in its name and I reckoned I could have Friday feline fun with it (ditto), to see if I could photo-edit with that, and I could, and I could do constant ratio rectangular cropping which was a most welcome surprise.

Thus are decisions made, by computer operatives.  There are two rules for getting things done in the modern world.  (1) Do not unleash solutions upon circumstances which are not a problem.  If it doesn’t help you to do something that you need to do, don’t bother with it no matter how cool everyone else says it is.  Cool is not a good enough reason to be faffing about with something.  (Faffing about to no purpose cannot be cool, because it isn’t, and because another rule is: worrying about being cool guarantees that you won’t be.)

And (2): if it does help you to do just one thing that you do want to do, then, if you can afford the money, the space, the bother, whatever, use it.  Then, when you are using that thing for that one essential thing, then, you can move onwards to finding out if it will do any other merely desirable things.  But, lots of merely desirable things and nothing essential is not good enough.

Using anything is difficult, if you only use it occasionally, to do something merely occasionally desirable.  This rule applies at all times, in all places, and no matter how “user friendly” the gizmo or programme claims itself or is claimed by other users of it to be.  Occasional is bother.  Always.  Don’t do occasional if you can avoid it.

Using anything is easy, on the other hand, if you do it regularly.  This rule applies at all times, in all places, to all things, and no matter how “user hostile” enemies of the gizmo or process claim it to be.  If a convoluted dance around the houses by a complicated route gets you an essential result, then dance.  Convoluted will quickly become imprinted on your brain, and easy, and reinforced each time you (frequently) use it.  This is how rats and ants do things. (Hurrah: other creatures!) They’ll probably outlast us.  Ants definitely.

The above explains why the division of labour was so epoch-making.  When you concentrate entirely on a small but rather tricky part of a big process, you will do it massively better than others attempting this tricky operation only sometimes, in among all the other things they are attempting.  The damn near impossible becomes routine and easy.

So, I prepared for a life of frequently PhotoCatting fixed-ratio rectangles out of my photos.  Using PhotoCat for that one thing.

But then, earlier this week I was cranking up PhotoCat, prior to some fixed-ratio cropping, and it refused to load.  It got to 80%, and then stuck there.  Who knows why?  Was this PhotoCat’s fault?  Was it something I was doing?  Probably the latter, but that isn’t the point.  It didn’t load. So, I went looking for alternatives, and I found one, called: PhotoPad.

And the bad news for PhotoCat is that PhotoPad also does proportional ratio cropping, and does it rather more conveniently, because PhotoPad operates on my hard disc and doesn’t have to be uploaded from the www each time.  Unlike PhotoCat, PhotoPad is not www based, or whatever you call it, which I prefer because you can still use it if the www is out of action.  It’s now all mine:

image

That being a snap of a rather unusual form of transport that I snapped, in France.  I like how you can see what’s happening there, like when they zoom in on a detail in a computer picture in NCIS or a movie or something similar.  (Question.  Does art lead life in computing?  Does stuff like the above start out in the movies, just so absolutely everyone can get what’s going on, and then migrate to real life?)

PhotoPad does something else which PhotoCat didn’t do, or not for me, which is rotate much more exactly.  Most photo software seems to want to offer only rotation in 1 degree increments.  If they can do better, they don’t volunteer the fact.  But, PhotoPad does volunteer this.  With PhotoPad, instead of rotating something 1 degree or 2 degrees (or 359 degrees), you can do 1.38 degrees or 1.77 degrees or 358.61 degrees.  You’d be surprised, perhaps, how often that is a desirable refinement.  You can do it by eye, and let the numbers take care of themselves.  Terrific.  Cool, even.

So.  PhotoCat now offers me … nothing.  So, … see above.

Just now, while checking out the PhotoCat link for this posting, I successfully cranked up PhotoCat.  Whatever went wrong before has now gone away.

Too late.

Monday May 16 2016

Today I attended Deirdre McCloskey’s talk for the Adam Smith Institute.  I know what you’re thinking.  Okay, okay, photos, as per usual.  But: What did she say? Fine.  Go here, and you can find out.  What I can find no link to is any information about the event – when, where, and so on.  It’s all now gone.  Maybe it was never there in the first place.

But the Man from the Adam Smith Institute told me to send in some of my snaps, and these are the ones I sent them:

imageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimage

McCloskey’s basic point was what is rapidly becoming the libertarian orthodoxy, to the effect that (a) the world started getting humungously rich in or around 1780 (Yaron Brook‘s preferred date for this is 1776 (to coincide with America starting and Smith’s Wealth of Nation’s getting published)), and (b) we did this.  Our enemies tried to stop us and they failed.  We know how to make poor people rich, and we’ve been doing it ever since.  Our enemies only know how to make rich people less rich and poor people more poor.  Bastards.

My recent favourite example of enrichment is a very tiny one offered at today’s talk by McCloskey, which is that you can now use your smartphone as a mirror.  Better yet, McCloskey said, before the talk she was giving, she spotted Steve Baker MP doing this exact thing with his smartphone, while perfecting his appearance prior to doing his MP socialising bit.

The reason I particularly like this is that I just recently learned about this trick myself, when I saw someone doing it, and took a photo of it:

If you photo someone looking in a mirror, they can see their face, but you can’t.  (Unless it’s a crap movie, in which case the audience sees the face and the person with the face doesn’t.  I know.  Ridiculous.  But this is truly what often happens.) But, if you photo someone using their smartphone as a mirror, both you and they can see their face.

Thus:

image

McCloskey’s point was that enrichment doesn’t only come in the form of more money, but also in the form of the ever more amazing things that you can buy with your money.  Like a phone that is also a NASA circa 1968 supercomputer.  And a face mirror.

Finally, here are a couple more photography-related photos.  On the left is the official photographer for the McCloskey talk:

imageimageimage

And on the right there is a photo which I also took at the venue for the McCloskey talk, which I will not name, because the people in charge of this place might then learn of this blog posting and see this picture and then who the hell knows what might happen?  Are you wondering what I am talking about?  Click on the picture and work it out.  I only realised what I had photoed after I had got home.

Monday April 04 2016

Recently I wrote about footbridges, one in particular, in theatreland.  As that posting illustrates, I especially like footbridges that join buildings (in that case theatres), rather than merely convey members of the public who are on a journey through the city, even though I myself cannot cross such bridges, because I too am only a member of the public.

The London epicentre of such footbridge action is situated near Tower Bridge, on the south side of the river.  Footbridges of greatly varying heights above the ground and almost beyond counting connect the tall brick buildings on each side of whatever the street is where all these footbridges are to be seen.

I knew that on various journeys along the river I had photoed these bridges, but where were such photos to be found?  Oh well, I thought.  They’ll turn up.

Last night, they did turn up.  I was idling through photo-directories past, looking for something entirely different which I may, or may not, be telling you about Real Soon Now, and suddenly I came across a clutch of photos of the very footbridges I had in mind.  I immediately copied all these photos across into the rather recently created Footbridges directory.  Photos like this:

image

None of the photos I took that evening of these bridges were technically very accomplished.  The light was tricky and I think I was rather tired by the time I took them.  But, there they were, the bridges, and the photos of the bridges.

I chose the above photo from the half dozen or more that I had not because it is the best of these photos, but because it contains this vital piece of information, in writing.  Close up:

image

Le Pont de la Tour?  Google google.  Apparently it’s a posh eatery, for the kind of posh people who now live in these now very posh buildings.  And immediately I had the name of the street.

Shad.

Don’t ask me how you are supposed to say that.  Shad?  The Shad?  Shad Thames?  I don’t know.  But there’s the name.  Shad.  Sounds like Sean Connery saying Sad.  (Do you suppose that the reason Sean Connery pronounces S as Sh is because of how Sean is pronounced?  Jusht a shuggeshtion.)

Armed with this address, I could pin down exactly as opposed to approximately the location of this footbridge clutch, so that I can return there, and take better photos, and look them up on the www some more, and generally celebrate these striking structures.

And the moral is: when you are (I am) out and about taking photos, always get wherever you are (I am) in writing, by photoing writing.  Photo signs of shops, signs outside places, street signs, or, in this case restaurant signs.  That way, you can work out where everything was, even years later.  The above picture was taken nearly six years ago.

Wednesday March 30 2016

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

image

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

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

Here’s a Superheroine, photoed moments later:

image

I’m guessing that’s Lara Croft.

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

image

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

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

Monday February 29 2016

Indeed:

Anyone trying to fly a UAV over the outdoor sets where the next installment of the Star Wars saga is being filmed in Croatia might be met by drones owned by the production company.

I knew there were such things, but it’s good to actually read about them.

The fun really starts when drones on spy missions like this are also armed, so they can fight off the drones that attack them.

Drone v drone fighting is going to be a spectacular sport, just as soon as it starts getting organised.

When me and the Transport Blog gang visited the Farnborough Air Show, way back when we did, it was good, but it felt rather antiquated.  Drone v drone contests – real contests – would liven that up no end.

Wednesday February 17 2016

On the matter of which London Big Thing says London loudest, then the clear answer is, if you are choosing only one: Big Ben.

This advert on a taxi had Big Ben, alone, saying London, and so does this movie advert, recently snapped by me in the tube:

image

As you can see from that short list of movie stars - a Scotsman based in America who now talks American, and two real Americans - this is an international slam bang things exploding movie, not a local posh British actors paid not-so-much movie.  Their question was: What Big Thing says London to The World?  Answer: Big Ben.

What I find interesting about this graphic is how very big they manage to make Big Ben look, like a New York skyscraper.  It is as if the penumbra of celebrity that surrounds this Thing is now bigger than the Thing itself. (This often happens with famous things, I think.  When you finally get to see certain famous paintings, they too seem very small.  Wow.  Is that it?) Compared to other Big Things, in London and elsewhere, the actual Big Ben is not very big at all.

I wonder, is that what tourists say, when they finally set eyes on it?

This plot summary zeroes in on London’s Big Things.  The various stars of the movie, it says:

… must work together to stop the terrorists from the assassinating world leaders and the destroying the landmarks in the city.

Too many “the"s there, but you get the idea.  Never mind the people.  The World Leaders and the Big Things are what count.

Big Ben bigger
Wainwright on facadism
With GD2 in Richmond Park (3): Scary names
Borats!
Stormtrooper phones home?
Mental notes
Juliet Barker on Knights of Old: A lot of history in one paragraph
An old American car in Tottenham Court Road
Credit where credit is due (in France)
Tomorrow I will get out less
Ed Smith on sporting maturity – Burns and Henriques collide – Secretariat and his jockey
Miniature photographic fakery
Views from Waterloo Bridge
A French film poster advertising a British film
Santa’s tired helpers
Scary bunny
Cats – and technology
Oxo Tower with bus advertising The Expendables III
5G Boris
Cat news
Bombardier Embrio
A Bobcat digger and the Coade Lion from the back
Noah – Cosi at the Imax – Big Blue Cock
Mysteriously losing my internet connection and then mysteriously getting it back
A quota post (with a quota link to a post about a post about a quota photo) and another quota photo
The ROH from the ME Rooftop Bar
Quota crane and quota plane
Quota videos
A photo of a photograph
Dezeen continues to delight
Rob Fisher on old things not looking old
Reflections on and in Westminster Tube Station
Fate
The politics of humour in the USA and in Britain
Bouncing bombs and spinning cricket balls
Fishermen photo
The Monolith?
Alex Ross on Hollywood film scores
Arecibo Radio Telescope
Paulina Porizkova gets older
Another strangely punctuated headline and a depressing television play
I don’t usually approve of swear blogging but …
Woody Allen on media lies and on not learning as he gets older
Expendable movie news
Exploitation?
303 Squadron in the movie and on the telly
Big box computers versus laptops
BrianMicklethwaitDotCom twitter of the day before the day before yesterday
A good bit about the future of art galleries and how to rescue good bits
We’ll always have Chelsea
Blur
Free Skullcandy on a bus in snowy Edinburgh
Unravelling the puzzle – and making it into a movie
Gaddafi looking rather like Alan Rickman
The decor in Peter Jones - and where in London can I find a small ice-cube-making machine?
God is killing cinemas!
The Instadaughter on the morals of actors
What Bercow does next
Friend anonymous
SwivelCam
Star Wars mosque and rockets mosque
More random links
Excellent mixed metaphor
The Night of the Generals
Four Minutes
A movie staircase and a window
Waiting for shooting to start
New addition to blogroll
Blogroll dilemma - question I already know the answer to - irrelevant photo
“This is fun!”
Wonderwoman picked by Unsuperman
Big head and big something else
North Carolina Billion Monkeys mad for Obama!
Were any of them really that nice?
Ducks - frogs - turtles – beavers – Galaxy Quest
Bowlers who look like actors
A deeper voice
Twickenham shop attacked by the Dark Side of The Force
Sounding like a different country
The Rite of Spring sounds to me like technology rather than nature
Lizzy Bennet tells it like it is
The great DVD packaging clearout
The economics of Jonathan Ross
Blu-Ray - HD DVD – IBM – Microsoft - Google
Holiday
Cat stuff on Tuesday?
Hear ye hear ye
The qualitative difference made by quantity
From 100 to 1 in movie quotes and Gordon is a moron
Michael Jennings on private law in Hollywood
Breaking the Left’s stranglehold on the moving image
Filthy rich
Juan Bautista Alberdi
There ain’t no such thing as a free NHS
A movie about a typeface
James Bond but not as I know him
Glenn Gould on the hereafter
Dame Edna and Borats in Piccadilly Circus!
Bollocks to the fashists
The Dyson DC14
Other people’s photos (1): Soul transference
Sandow on Bond versus the Musketeers
“How else am I supposed to take it?”
Geek girl I like your thinkings - are nice - I want have sex with it
Admiral Coward
Not much here today
Being real on digital
The Death of Mr Lazarescu
“Are you telling me I don’t know my own brother?”
Something to bore everyone
Billion Monkey flash strikes twice! - 7/7 a year later - Office Space on TV even though I own it
Nice cementing
Internet sex machines instead of photos
British villainy
Another Billion Monkey and some Celluloid Gorillas in Victoria Street
Coming soon
He loved my book
Another movie that was good but which is now pretty much forgotten
Cheaper movies
Rolls Royces
Mitchum - MacLaine – Fonda – and Cota
La Chica De Rosa
Digital preservation
Feeling under the weather - and watching The Butterfly Effect
Editing
Blowing Smoke all over old school advertising
Home movies are getting better
Blowing Smoke – first inhalations