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: Television

Sunday March 30 2014

Incoming from Simon Rose, entitled “End of the World not happening tomorrow”.

What this means is that the End of the World CLUB MEETING is not happening tomorrow, because of a double booking mix-up of some sort.  But for a moment there, I was wondering what mad prophecy Simon was taking it upon himself to contradict.

The End of the World Club is an up-market version of my Last Friday meetings.  Despite its rather grumpy old man title, these meetings are very good, with excellent speakers.  For instance there was that fascinating talk by someone who had lived through the Zimbabwe inflation.

And, I first came across Dominic Frisby when he addressed the EotW Club, about this book.  Ever since Frisby spoke at my home, about his next book I have been hearing his voice on television, what with me being fond of TV documentaries.  Here (click on that only if you want to hear noise at once) is what he sounds like.  More Frisby audio info here.

Email me if you want to know more about these EotW meetings, and I’ll put you in touch with Simon Rose.

If the world ever does end, I want Frisby doing the voice overing for it.

Tuesday March 18 2014

I still can’t get used to the internet.  I never really will.  You can find all kinds of stuff out in a few seconds.  You know that, and so do I know it.  But, unlike (probably) you, I will never get truly used to this.

Last night, for instance, there was a TV show on about Fossils, fronted by this old Fossil Professor, and mention was made of – and a little sliver of film was shown of – a building (with lots of fossils in it) called the Royal Ontario Museum.  I said, that looks like that Daniel Libeskind museum in Berlin, in the saw cuts in big blocks style.  So let’s see about that Royal Ontario Museum shall we?  Sure enough, that is Libeskind also.

I had imagined that the saw cut style was specifically used only for that Berlin museum, to make you wince when you look at the building, same as you do when you find out the grizzly details of what happened to all those Berlin Jews.

However, it now seems (to me) that Libeskind just likes doing saw cuts.  Am I getting this wrong?

Maybe I could google that question also, and find out if anyone else agrees with the above.  But that’s enough answers for one posting.

Saturday February 22 2014

One of the things I did today was copy, from one TV hard disc to another, a documentary (fronted by Richard Hammond) about the D-Day fighting that took place on Omaha Beach.

One of the shots at the end of the programme looked a lot like this:

image

That is one of the photos at the bottom of this page.

I recall flying over the Normandy Beaches, on the way to the South of France.  Later in the journey, I took snaps like this one, of the Millau Viaduct, but I don’t recall seeing anything like that cemetery.

Sunday February 16 2014

Tonight on BBC4 they just showed a programme about Carl Faberge, blingster to the Czars.

image

I learned a lot.  Next up, a show done by Jonathan Meades, about Brutalist architecture.  He’s for it.

This seems an appropriate juxtaposition, and I am recording both.  The insanely ornate and extravagant trinkets unleashed by Faberge, and all the other riche and nouveau riche junk that flooded into the world in and around 1900, had a direct cause-and-effect relationship with the anti-ornamental puritanism of architectural brutalism.  Many, including me, some of the time, react to Faberge eggs not just with indifference but with aggressive hatred.

I also beheld Brutalist architecture for most of the last half century with even greater loathing.  This loathing is only now abating, as the buildings themselves start to diminish in number.

image

That building used to adorn the roundabout on the other side of the river from Parliament.  It is now no more.  I photographed it.  Then, I photographed its demolition.  I did not mourn its passing.

Meades is now, as promised, rhapsodising about Brutalism.  Why, he asks, does architecture have to be nice?  He is likening it to Victorian architectural oddities of earlier times.

What he misses, or is missing so far, is that Brutalism’s aesthetic aggression went hand in hand with huge collectivist power grabs.  Brutalism was the architectural face of state centralism.  For me, Meades makes a big distinction between “Brutalism” and regular modern.  I don’t really see this.  Both went hand in hand, I’d say.

Meades’ injunction that people should not hate Brutalism is rather like expecting conquered Europeans not to be such philistines about the obviously beautiful design of Junkers 87s or Tiger Tanks.  Ah, correction.  Now he is acknowledging quite explicitly the roots of Brutalism in second world war concrete bunkers, most notably those constructed by the Nazis.  “Forget” that the Nazis built these things, says Meades.  But I suspect that the Brutalists actually liked the very quality that made the Nazis do this kind of thing.  Nazis conquered twee old Europe.  Brutalism assaulted the twee architecture of post-war Europe, the Europe that is still awash with Fabergerie.  There is a deep affinity here.

The show is still going as I post this, and is in any case only part one of two.  This was live blogging.

Saturday February 15 2014

Tomorrow evening the 2014 BAFTA Awards shindig will be happening, at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden.  Roger Hewland, proprietor of Gramex (Records and CDs), Lower Marsh, told me this afternoon that BAFTA is paying the ROH three quarters of a million quid for this privilege.  Where RH picked this titbit up, I do not know, but it sounds a lot, doesn’t it?

Below is a picture that I recently took myself of the ROH.  If you google for pictures of the ROH, you mostly get either interiors, or else the big Parthenon-like front entrance.  But when I was at that Rooftop Bar I recently visited, I took this snap of the ROH:

image

What strikes me is how modern it looks.  It’s just a big box.  The decoration is no more than a gesture.  I know, I know, that’s because nobody can see this bit, this being before the age of buildings taller than this, from which people can look down.  But even so, you can see architectural modernism all present and correct, just waiting to emerge.

Thursday February 13 2014

Guided by the excellent advice of my mostly silently lurking commentariat ("Friday Night Smoke” in particular has a way of supplying extraordinarily welcome and pertinent comments, with gaps between them of several months), I got myself this wonderful new computer screen.  The main feature of this new screen is that, thanks to that advice, and unlike my previous computer screen, it is IPS.

IPS (In-plane switching) is a screen technology used for liquid crystal displays (LCDs). It was designed to solve the main limitations of the twisted nematic field effect (TN) matrix LCDs in the late 1980s, such as relatively high response time, strong viewing angle dependence and low-quality color reproduction. In-plane switching involves arranging and switching the molecules of the liquid crystal (LC) layer between the glass substrates. This is done in a plane parallel to these glass plates.

My IPS screen is at its considerable best, no matter what direction I look at it from.  Unlike the earlier screen, where I needed to be directly in front of it to get a good result.

But, my old computer screen, just like the new one, was on my desk, right in front of me.  So, although my new computer screen was a great improvement, I did not get the full force of the improvement, massive though that improvement was.

But now, when I look at my television, and then back at my computer screen.  My television is not at the same level as my eyes.  It is higher up than that.  Now, next to my super new computer screen, it seems like everything on my television is permanently in the dark:

image

At first I just wanted to take and show that one picture.  But then I thought, what if I photo the television screen from right in front of it, higher up?  So, I raised my camera above my head, using its tilting screen to go on seeing the picture, and here is what suddenly happened:

image

Suddenly Charlie Sheen, one of Two And A Half Men (before Charlie Sheen got fired and his character killed), is suddenly to be seen, as clear as day.

Actually, in the bit linked to, Charlie Sheen’s exit from the show is described thus:

Even though Sheen’s antics involving Two and a Half Men have been continuously reported in every news medium, it’ll be interesting to see how violently killing off one of the series’ focal characters will be received by its viewers. While it can be said that television viewers are extremely loyal, the overt decimation of Charlie Harper may leave a bad taste in the mouth of those looking to watch an actual comedy series.

The word “decimate” is now routinely misused, to the point where it has pretty much lost its original meaning, of one in ten Roman soldiers in a legion being executed, when that legion misbehaved.  But I have never before heard of an individual being “decimated”, overtly or otherwise.  But I digress.

The point is, now I want a new television screen.  There is nothing “wrong” with the old screen.  It works as advertised.  I just don’t like it any more.

Friday January 10 2014

My fellow ex-Transport-Bloggers Michael Jennings and Patrick Crozier (here is Patrick’s excellent latest WW1 posting at Samizdata), are fond of saying that public transport in London has got distinctly better during the last decade or so.  That is my feeling also.

Here is a typical example of a small, incremental change that has recently happened, in the form of some slightly wider railway carriages.

Compare this, on the Jubilee Line last night ...:

image

… with this, on the District Line a few hours later, after I realised I needed a picture of that also, and hung around a bit at St James’s Park at the end of my journey for the next train after the one I’d been on to show up:

image

Okay, not much of a difference.  But when I was inside one of the carriages in the first picture, I noticed how they seemed that little bit more spacious, and then I realised that this was because they were.

Next up, making more use of that little bit of space between the carriages.  Like this?  Maybe.  I particularly like the front of it.  I did not know they did concept trains, but of course they do.  Why wouldn’t they?

It probably helps, when trying to enjoy this posting, if you do not live in London.  In that event, these trains may look, to you, exotic and exiting.  Sort of like elongated underground London taxis, or elongated underground single decker versions of the London double decker bus.  Alas, if you do live in London, this will probably have been rather boring.  Rather boring as in extremely boring.  And perhaps a bit boring even if you don’t.  Ah the hell with it.  I’m impressed by small improvements like this one.  I like the way the people who contrive these kinds of things just forget about all the other problems in the world and concentrate on just this one, which is that London underground trains are not as wide as they could be.  While politicians strut about failing to solve everything, they get on and actually do solve something.

Wednesday January 08 2014

I just watched a tv show about hydrogen bombs.  One of the things I never, until now, got around to finding out about was how hydrogen bombs work.  What I had not realised was that hydrogen bombs include atom bombs inside them, to trigger the “hydrogen” bit.

Basically, they sick a stash of other stuff next to an atom bomb.  When the atom bomb goes off, it turns the other stuff into an explosion that is even more spectacular than the original atom bomb explosion.  I did not know this.  Now I do.  Tremble, world.  Well no, I still couldn’t make a hydrogen bomb.  But I now understand a bit better how others make them.

The funniest moment was when a bloke said that there comes a time when shoving more and more stuff next to the atom bomb to make a bigger and bigger hydrogen bomb stops being worth doing, because the blast is just so huge it disappears out of the earth’s atmosphere.  This means, he said, that a bomb this big, when compared to a slightly smaller one, “does no good”.

You can just hear those bomber pilots, setting out for Dresden in 1945, saying: “Come on guys, let’s go do some more good.”

How hydrogen bombs work
Strange yellow train on the underground
Friend on telly
Quota videos
A Strutton Ground shop and a Strutton Ground pub
Rooftops
BMdotCOM insult of the day
Feynman Diagrams on the Feynman van
Cheap hippos are hard to find
Six Nations joy
A (slightly delayed) Happy New Year
“No one has to know!”
Ryan wins
Some more presidential debate prophecy
Usain Bolt takes photos of photographers!
AB-solutely fabulous!
Rainbow Bridge
Shard even nearer to completion
The England rugby aftermath
France beat England
England squeak through against Scotland
Davies and de Bruyn get promotion for Surrey
Thrashing India
Natalie Solent at Biased BBC
Adam Curtis skewered
Today there is cricket and there is cricket
Friday link dump
Release Ai Weiwei
Gordon Brown curses the United Kingdom
“Things appear almost impossible to escape from …”
Meaning in sport
The fluctuating fortunes of Praveen Kumar and the devastating impact of Lasith Malinga
Pronouncing on the Six Nations
Clumbersome
BrianMicklethwaitDotCom mixed metaphor of the day
Female cows in TV advert shock
Poetry
The Humpty Dumpty Learning Channel
Ashes highlights on ITV4
Nice try
Only up to some random linkage and a little felinity
Another senior moment
Scientology enthusiast is now Climate Change Minister
Another strangely punctuated headline and a depressing television play
To Serve Man
I don’t usually approve of swear blogging but …
Woody Allen on media lies and on not learning as he gets older
Andy Flower urges England fans not to punish cricket for being corrupt
Cricket technology and its imperfections
The names people choose for their children are strange
Obama raises the price of tanning
303 Squadron in the movie and on the telly
The age of multi-channel television
England beating Australia – Germany beating England
Curse you Friends Provident t20
I love television
Surrey are now crap at cricket but they are sitting on a gold mine
Everybody draw Mohammed every day!
Everybody draw Mohammed on May 20th!
I flipping told him
Muralitharan and Hayden carry on doing badly
Watching IPL cricket beats watching England play rugby
IPL on ITV4!
Separating the men from the toys - the future of warfare and of sport?
List of popular misconceptions
You had a hard disc?  Luxury!
Chimpcam
Cricket talk tonight
An after-echo of the creation of the world - Burgon recycles Milhaud
Yet more ramblings about Guesswhatgate
Unravelling the puzzle – and making it into a movie
Giant Bean covered in mirror
American video
Gordon Brown dithers about rugby - cricket’s on the up
Barney Stinson on how gay marriage will encourage regular marriage
Of lists and distant totally photorealistic skyscrapers
All your Quite Interesting questions answered
Jonathan Meades on city planning
More recorded cricket chat and some further Oval hindsights
Hislop fluffs the rhyme
Labour down – silly parties up
Photographers in bother
Mrs Billion Monkey doesn’t want to catch swine fever!
France falls in love with Hugh Laurie
Daniel Hannan and the shape of the media to come
Indian Premier League trumps test cricket
Angleterre formidable - France merde - Italy crap
It all depends on whether there is anything worth Twittering
On being sold a telly
Jennings did it
Rubbish
Nothing from me here today but something on Samizdata about cannabis
It could be a rather small funeral
I am not drunk - I just didn’t know what to put so I just started
OLED TV - very thin and detailed but not very big and not ready yet unless you’re stupidly rich
More random links
Keeping up with the NFL
On not seeing Schoenberg’s Variations for Orchestra
Four Minutes
“… the idea is to remain ignorant of how dumb you look …”
There’s only one way to find out!  Fight!
England sinking fast
Dongling at Michael’s
This and that on the Graham Norton Show
A thin bridge in Wales
Not the same thing
City of London lumps and a south London spike
Televised insincerity
Mockery
Rock and roll will die very soon!
On the perils of recording to your TV hard disc at the midnight hour
“It’s only a parable!”
On the nature of the evolution argument
Vaughan steps down
Never mind the telly
Cricket misery
Nigel Kennedy’s amazing Elgar
Twenty20 cricket on Sky TV
Posting at Michael’s
Clarkson on Sarah Jessica Parker
Pietersen not humbled
A poetic Hornby
Today I have been blogging elsewhere and also doing other things
Bird’s Nest in smog
I predict that Germany will win
Brown leapfrogs Cameron with 36 point jump
“If only it were true …”
Eurovision sense from Squander Two
Ducks - frogs - turtles – beavers – Galaxy Quest
Bowlers who look like actors
Avoiding barbarism in the street
Ting Tings on Ross
The absurdly derided excellence of British weather forecasts
They play a lot of snooker in China – and in Essex
Voting for Boris?
The IPL is a new face for India but Harbhajan slapping Sreesanth is no big deal
Head Men need to be a bit wrong in the head
Big, Bigger, Biggest - starring Heathrow Terminal 5
Tower Bridge in the blue grey afternoon (and Jenny Agutter obviously did it)
The Rite of Spring sounds to me like technology rather than nature
It really is about bloody time Jonathan Davies learned how to pronounce Jauzion
Watching paint dry at the end of a Six Nations game
Lizzy Bennet tells it like it is
Pianists conducting themselves
Paris Hilton and the Something Else First rule
The great DVD packaging clearout
Billion Monkey murderers!?!
The economics of Jonathan Ross
The Lord is watching
Blu-Ray - HD DVD – IBM – Microsoft - Google
Here it is Merry Christmas
Holiday
Probably not right - but definitely written
The qualitative difference made by quantity
Gadget question
Not actually all that dramatically
Breaking the Left’s stranglehold on the moving image
Ramprakash at his level of competence
Australia out! – New Zealand out! – pass forward!
A surprising outburst of truth
Test match special
Depressed about the Windies
Toy train to Darjeeling
“A fitting end to a very badly organised tournament …”
A double cricket surprise
Old gits at the Oval – and Shane Warne
Cricket blogging by me elsewhere
“What do YOU think?” - “More -isationisation!”
Islam was peaceful and tolerant until the Christians attacked it
Very small screen – high resolution
Just making conversation
Footbridge in the dark and cricket
Four Nations still in it!
Clever old Catt
Magic Andy makes magic dragon
An improbable England win in the Six Nations
Dame Edna and Borats in Piccadilly Circus!
The Great Global Warming Swindle debate now begins
Displacement photo of Billion Monkey!
Newsnight Review – one at a time please
That Rooney goal
Micklethwait’s Four Star Theory of the Internet
Empty football stadiums on TV
Screw you Dove – good on you Ruth Kelly – the right to avoid gay adoption
Me on internet telly this evening with Andrew Ian Dodge
Telly on computers
Refuting decimation
Caught on camera
Me on 18DSTV
Rubble
Male cows do not have udders
Do the Lib Dems just tell everyone what they each of them want to hear?
Me on the intertelly tonight
Down by the river
The extreme memes spread by moderate Muslims
Me on 18 Doughty Street tonight
What to do about intrusive mobile phones
One click
Billion Monkey flash strikes twice! - 7/7 a year later - Office Space on TV even though I own it
Sleeping fire
Big Media crap and football cock-ups
Very amusing person alert
County cricket - great and not so great - and what to do about that
Dnalgne no emoc! - Billion Monkey snaps mental Maradona!
The latest Brian and Antoine mp3
Young People models for Old People
Sergei Khachatryan plays Shostakovich Violin Concerto 1
Another phone glitch
The internet is creating new video stars
Wafa Sultan
Disaster in Paris
Blogging takes a back seat
Only a game
Those little big things that you hate
Another Billion Monkey and some Celluloid Gorillas in Victoria Street
“And also our sensitivity to our office being firebombed”
More ancient rock and rollers photographed from off of the telly
What it was only better
The Superbowl is live on the telly!
The animal spirits of Six Nations
Talking about my generation
TV.com
Dye hard
Pink and green Richards
The Elgar/Walker piano concerto and the future of “classical” music
Where are all the posh real men actors?
Rylance’s Richard II – and how Richard II pre-echoes Lear
Rylance’s Richard again
I know that guy!
The new stand at the Oval
David Zinman – Thomas Adès – Howard Shelley
Machines to record digital TV
Photographing the TV
Bromwell High is very good