Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
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
MNB Achari on The ups and downs of English
Robert Hale on Feynman Diagrams on the Feynman van
Laurence Sheldon on Bookshops as Amazon showrooms
Bryn Braughton on Bookshops as Amazon showrooms
Most recent entries
- 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
- So painters also used to “take” pictures
- Funniest run out ever?
- Shadow photography
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6000 Miles from Civilisation
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Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise
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Category archive: Society
Last night I attended a dinner at Chateau Samizdata.
Lots of photos were taken, and not just by me. The basic reason for all the photography was that the food was the sort of food that deserved to be memorialised in pixels:
And once one camera is out, I get out mine to photo the photoing, and from then on it escalates. As well as three old school cameras like mine, there were also several tablets and smart phones in action. In fact, there were probably more cameras present last night than there were people (which I reckon to be an interesting moment in social history) especially if you include cameras like the camera in my mobile phone. This stayed in my jacket pocket all night, but it was there.
Here is Michael J photoing two of our fellow guests:
And finally, here are a couple of snaps of our host and hostess, being photoed ...:
... and then looking at the result a few seconds later:
As I keep on saying, the history of photography just now is not that this or that famous photographer has just taken a bunch more famous photos. It is that we all now have these things.
This Samizdata posting, for instance, is about a guy using a great big iPad to photo Westminster Abbey. Scorn was expressed by some commenters at how stupid this man was making himself look. I disagree strongly, as did Michael Jennings.
Michael’s comment about this deserves further attention and here it is in full:
It is believed that the reason that the first generation iPad did not have cameras was because Steve Jobs believed that people using it to take photographs would look ridiculous. This received complaints, not so much for people who wanted to use it to take photographs, but for parents of small children. Point the iPad at the baby, start up a video conference with the grandparents, allow the grandparents to watch the baby, and the grandparents will be happily occupied for hours.
However, people then started using the iPad for taking photographs anyway. So, Apple gave it a decent camera. I have one myself, and I prefer taking photographs with it to taking photographs with a cellphone camera. Whether that is the quality of the camera, I am not sure. (By standards of cellphone cameras, the one in the iPad is of high quality, but most high end phones have cameras of similar quality). I think it may be the screen. Everybody who takes digital photographs knows the experience of taking what you think is a good photograph, but discovering later that it is blurry, but being unable to tell that at the time on the tiny screen on the camera. The iPad has a large, very high resolution screen, so you have a much better ability to tell at once if you have taken a good picture or not. If you haven’t, there may even be a chance to take it again.
A final good thing about the iPad is its fantastic battery life. (This isn’t hard to explain - if you look at pictures of the innards of an iPad it is almost entirely battery). At the end of a busy day, its not uncommon to find that your batteries are low or completely depleted on all your devices except the iPad. You see something that needs photographing, so you use the iPad simply because it is still going.
As for looking ridiculous, that is all about what is normal and expected. If everyone does it, it no longer looks ridiculous.
To me what is truly ridiculous is refraining from doing what works best, because you think that looks ridiculous. It’s like that thing about being cool. If you are trying to be cool, you are by definition failing. If your over-riding concern is not to look ridiculous, then you are being ridiculous.
To illustrate the matter further, Michael immediately added another comment, which included this photo, also deserving of a wider audience than it may get while buried in a comment thread:
Underneath which Michael added:
For instance, if on a slow afternoon you unexpectedly find your self at the tomb in Jerusalem where protestants believe that Christ rose from the dead, it can be really helpful to have your iPad with you.
Last night, Michael and I both attended the Adam Smith Institute Christmas Party. Here is my photo of Michael, taking a picture of me with his iPad:
And here is my photo of Michael’s photo of me, as instantly displayed on his iPad:
Michael could be sure that his photo was in focus even as he was taking it, and certainly immediately afterwards. I could only be sure that my photo of his photo was also in focus when I got home, and actually, a great many of the other photos that I took at this shindig were not properly in focus, there being somewhat insufficient light (with what there was of it typically being ill-directed for my purposes), and people being prone to move about when they converse with one another. Which makes Michael’s point yet again.
Last Wednesday, for reasons that had nothing to do with any attempt to take the photos that follow, I found myself at Piccadilly Circus. This is always a fun spot to photo photographers, but on this particular night they were out in force, because also present were Halloween revellers, typically themselves armed with cameras. Here are some of the better snaps I snapped, of all the Halloween fun and games:
I hope (although I promise nothing) to be doing a Samizdata posting, Real Soon Now, along the lines of: Is Halloween Replacing Bonfire Night in Britain? I shall be keeping an ear open next Monday (November 5th) to hear if there is any abatement on the explosion front.
Nice for me that one of them was a cat, what with it now being Friday and all.
This blogging stuff really works. I blog here about Emmanuel Todd, and a blink of an eye (i.e. about a couple of years or more) later, these two American guys are writing a book about America, concerning which they say things like this:
America 3.0 gives readers the real historical foundations of our liberty, free enterprise, and family life. Based on a new understanding our of our past, and on little known modern scholarship, America 3.0 offers long-term strategies to restore and strengthen American liberty, prosperity and security in the years ahead.
America 3.0 shows that our country was founded as a decentralized federation of communities, dominated by landowner-farmers, and based on a unique type of Anglo-American nuclear family. . . .
And that “little known modern scholarship” is, among other things, the work of Emmanuel Todd. If you look at the (quite short) “Essential Readings” list to the right at America 3.0 you will see, among other links, these:
America 3.0 will be on my Essential Reading list just as soon as I can get my hands on a copy.
Actually it’s by Youssef Courbage and Emmanuel Todd. And it’s not that new; it was first published (in French) in 2007. But it has just been made available in English. And it is exactly the Todd book that, for several years now, I have most been wanting to read. It is entitled A Convergence of Civilizations: The Transformation of Muslim Societies Around the World.
If it is as interesting as I hope it is, this book could finally enable Todd to make his long overdue breakthrough into the English speaking world.
And it is, as Instapundit is always saying, in the post.
In all my previous Todd googlings, I had never before come across this stuff about Todd, although I am almost certain that it has been there all along. Will read this tomorrow, or failing that, Real Soon. (And ooh look: at the top left, under where it says “NEW!!!”, there is me, and three of my Todd postings.)
I think I understand, but can someone (Alec?) explain it all, just so I’m sure.
There are some interesting titbits in this piece about the IPL cricket tournament, and about how well it is doing as a TV show.
“A sense of meaning has been absent,” Desai said. “It has become repetitive. Sports must produce some sort of meaning finally. Otherwise it is just leather hitting wood.”
But even he agrees advertisers don’t have to worry yet, saying “there is still good reason for [the IPL] to exist” and that it simply needs to transition from being a spectacle into a tournament that reflects “what every team represents and stands for”.
Indeed. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thoroughly enjoying what I am seeing of this tournament. But, what I am enjoying - and will remember for a while - is the achievements of individuals, rather than the distinctiveness of and collective success of teams. I do remember great things that have been done by Malinga, Valthaty, Sehwag, Gayle and Ishant Sharma. But if asked which teams those guys play for, I’d have to pause and think about it.
It doesn’t help the way players move around from one year to the next, according to who gets them in an auction. This is the problem with salary caps, and in general with a tournament that is that little bit too centrally controlled, and controlled to contrive equality of outcome. It makes for more evenly matched teams, but there isn’t the romance of “organic” teams, emerging from the wider society of whatever society it is. A similar complaint applies to American football, I think. In general, I am not fond of the word “franchise” in sport.
In this respect the IPL is not a patch on that other Premier League. Yes, in “the” Premier League, there are usually only about half a dozen teams each year with a serious chance of winning, or even of doing well enough to play in Europe the following season. But teams do rise and fall. Unlimited money is not enough to guarantee success.
It must say something that the Olympic Games, the World Cup (as in the soccer World Cup) and the English Premier League, three of the most successful televised sports tournaments on the planet, all have this huge inequality between the best teams and the rest of the teams built into them. Yet people still care about their little country getting their one amazing Silver Medal, or their recently promoted team avoiding relegation the following season with a last gasp win against a mid-table team, or their little country snatching a draw again Germany and scraping, against all odds, into the last sixteen before being thumped by Brazil. Personally, I detest the Olympics and don’t get that excited about soccer or any sort. But I know sporting super-success when I see it. The IPL needs to keep working on its formula.
In defence of the IPL, those other biggies have been going for decades, while the IPL isn’t yet half a decade old. Given time, it too will become “organic”.
Hello, rain stopped play. That’s not supposed to happen in India. An earlier match was totally washed out, on a day when the weather here in London was fabulous.
LATER (Sunday afternoon):
That’s a picture of the Gayle effect. 40 off 3 overs.
When, this morning, I heard that Tim Evans was resigning as the President of the Libertarian Alliance, I thought: things might, just might, get silly. Accordingly, in a mood of pessimism, I straight away downloaded .pdf files of all my LA published pieces. Just in case. Just in case the LA website got caught in any crossfire that might materialise, and just in case my own stash of these files proves inaccessible, for instance as a result of it being on antiquated format disks which prove to be hard or expensive or even impossible to get at.
Soon, I will probably download all the other publications, by everyone else also. Again, just in case. It helps that I now have a computer with a hard disk the size of one of the smaller English counties.
I think it highly unlikely that this will prove to have been of any value. But it will make me feel a tiny bit happier.
But, while doing the beginnings of this, I did discover one very nice thing, which is that the version of Adobe Acrobat that I now have running on my new supercomputer enables me, and presumably everyone else, to copy and past text from within LA publications. I don’t just mean the boring html ones, I mean the pretty ones, the ones I designed. I did not know I could do this. I am very happy about it.
This means that my long held but long postponed ambition to convert every LA publication, or at any rate quite a lot of LA publications, into alternative not so pretty HTML versions, can now be forgotten about. Hurrah. How to solve a problem. Wait. Keep on waiting. Eventually, it may go away.
The bad news is that I still have to remove carriage returns from the end of each line of text, if copying stuff into something like this blog. But that is a small price to pay for such a great leep forward.
I will celebrate by copying and pasting a bit from something I wrote in 1997, about Charles Murray:
A key insight into Murray’s thought processes is to be found in his second and least publicly discussed book, In Pursuit: Of Happiness and Good Government (Simon and Schuster, New York, 1988). He tells of how he worked for two years in the Peace Corps in the villages of Thailand, and how, to his consternation, he encountered hostility from the citizenry of the villages. How come? He was giving them money, bestowing bounty upon them. Well, yes, but his projects never seemed to get anywhere, and he was also screwing around with the local power structure, turning a local community, with an elaborate system of personal status based on how much you contributed to local welfare, into a mere aggregation of welfare supplicants. The village elders didn’t like it, and Murray came around to agreeing with them.
If you put the government in charge of doing all the things formerly done by the local community, then say goodbye to the local community. Community becomes a mere word, for a bunch of people who exist and sleep near to each other, in the same dormitory so to speak, but who no longer have any meaningful social relationships with each. And it is in these kinds of relationships, says Murray, that most people find their deepest pleasures in life. Most people don’t become supermodels or vice-presidents of major corporations, and make a stack of money so huge that they can just buy their way out of their demoralised and degenerating localities. Most people find their places in the world by being good sons and daughters, good parents, good neighbours and good local citizens. Even corporate vice-presidents often wish when they get older that they’d paid more attention to family and friends and neighbours, and less to getting ahead at work. Murray’s libertarianism is the claim that citizenship should stop being a nationalised industry.
Questions concerning the death of copyright protection on downloaded MP3s
Brianmicklethwait Dot Com headline of the day
The long and short of conversation - Hitchens on YouTube
Why do pregnant women now do quite a lot of driving of their husbands?
BrianMicklethwaitDotCom blog posting title of the day
The right to photograph
Talking with Toby Baxendale
Scrounging Englishmen and stories too good to check
Antoine Clarke talks about Facebook and Twitter – Guido and … Ian Geldard?
Barney Stinson on how gay marriage will encourage regular marriage
Tienanmen + Twitter = Teheran
MBA - necessary but insufficient
Google and dongle
The prevention threat
Is the contemporary art bubble bursting?
On autobiographical ruthlessness
Media bias as asset stripping
Antoine and Michael on what to do now
When three’s company but four’s a crowd
Not the same thing
“Japan is fantastic …”
Chivalry and the mad feminists
It only takes One Rich Lunatic
Why I prefer to live in a failing neighbourhood
Twenty20 cricket on Sky TV
“I’ll build it with explosive bolts connecting the wings to the fuselage …”
Signs of civilisation
Girls these days flashing their cleavages it’s disgusting don’t know what the world’s coming to …
Theodore Dalrymple on the menace of honest public officials and much else besides
He is white and he is poking fun at himself
The white stuff
The robotic future
Probably not right - but definitely written
Chanelle and Ziggy - romance in the age of total surveillance
The drive to see smiles (and they have to be real)
The publicness of private life
Voluntary World 3: Transport Blog illustrates the Muggins principle
The idea that mental illness does not exist
The rights and wrongs of multiple marriage
Cricket is ruining the youth of India!
Emmanuel Todd (5): A CrozierVision podcast
Emmanuel Todd (4): From ideology to economic progress
Alan Turing – dead earth and cold wires
Evite makes sure I remember it
It’s only a Billion Monkeys if you count mobile phones (and then it’s far more)
Emmanuel Todd (2): The eight family systems
Emmanuel Todd (1): Anthropology explains ideology
Blogging has arrived
“Publish it in your Blog!”
Oscar Wilde defends society
Geek girl I like your thinkings - are nice - I want have sex with it
Tech talk mp3 with Michael Jennings
Patrick Crozier talks with me about Japan
A handwritten letter from Alex Singleton
I hate market research phone calls
Voluntary World 2: You’re on your own
On the spread of voluntariness
Changing the names of cities
Blogging fun and blogging profit
Billion Monkeys take pictures of themselves!
Charles Rosen on Richard Taruskin and on the socially unbound nature of some of the greatest music
Talking about my generation
Old days not perfect shock
It’s murder down there
When blog meant something different