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

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Category archive: Propaganda

Thursday May 07 2015

Following on from yesterday’s ruminations, in among lots of stuff that doesn’t fascinate me, including one posting about shit, is a report about Paris’ tallest building in over 40 years.

Presumably “Paris” doesn’t include La Défense, which is out on the edge of Paris.  Those Big Things are very big indeed.  What they’re talking about here is building Big Things in the centre of Paris. 

And the thing is, this Thing not very tall at all:

image

In London, this sort of thing would hardly be noticed.

But the fact that this new Thing is not that big is deliberate.

“This project is not a high-rise, but embodies a shift in attitude, and this gradual increase marks a willingness to reconsider the potential of height and will change the city landscape little by little,” said the architects.

They know that if they are to get any new truly Big Things anywhere near the centre of Paris, the first step is to make some things that are not Big, but just a tiny bit bigger.  First you get the opposition to concede the principle, with something that doesn’t arouse huge opposition.  Then you gradually increase the heights, until finally you get your Big Things, and the opposition unites too late.  And by then it’s too small, because lots of people actually like the new Big Things.  This is how politics is done.  And this is politics.

The last, and so far only new and truly Big Thing anywhere near the middle of Paris (other than the Eiffel Tower) is the Montparnasse Tower, which was completed in 1973.  Compared to almost everything else in central Paris, before or since, the Montparnasse Tower is very tall indeed.  It aroused a lot of opposition by embodying such an abrupt, even contemptuous, change of Paris skyscraper policy, and judging by what happened for the next forty years, that opposition was very successful.  This time around, those who want Big Parisian Things are going about it more carefully, as the above quote shows.

Speaking of politics, who is that geezer in the picture, in the picture?  A politician, I’ll bet.

Thursday April 23 2015

I am reading In Defence of History by Richard J. Evans.  The attackers are the post-modernists.  In Chapter 3 ("Historians and their facts"), Evans writes about how evidence considered insignificant in one era can become highly significant in a later era:

The traces left by the past, as Dominick LaCapra has observed, do not provide an even coverage of it.  Archives are the product of the chance survival of some documents and the corresponding chance loss or deliberate destruction of others.  They are also the products of the professional activities of archivists, which therefore shape the record of the past and with it the interpretations of historians.  Archivists have often weeded out records they consider unimportant, while retaining those they consider of lasting value.  This might mean for example destroying vast and therefore bulky personnel files on low-ranking state employees such as ordinary soldiers and seamen, manual workers and so on, while keeping room on the crowded shelves for personnel files on high state officials.  Yet such a policy would reflect a view that many historians would now find outmoded, a view which considered ‘history’ only as the history of the elites.  Documents which seem worthless to one age, and hence ripe for the shredder, can seem extremely valuable to another.

Let me give an example from my personal experience.  During research in the Hamburg state archives in the I98os, I became aware that the police had been sending plain-clothes agents into the city’s pubs and bars during the two decades or so before the First World War to gather and later write down secret reports of what was being said in them bysocialist workers.  The reports I saw were part of larger files on the various organizations to which these workers belonged.  Thinking it might be interesting to look at a wider sample, I went through a typewritten list of the police files with the archivist, and among the headings we came across was one which read: ‘Worthless Reports’. Going down into the muniment room, we found under the relevant call-number a mass of over 20,000 reports which had been judged of insufficient interest by the police authorities of the day to be taken up into the thematic files where I had first encountered this material. It was only by a lucky chance that they had not already been destroyed. They turned out to contain graphic and illuminating accounts of what rank-and-file socialist workers thought about almost every conceivable issue of the day, from the Dreyfus affair in France to the state of the traffic on Hamburg’s busy streets. Nobody had ever looked at them before. Historians of the labour movement had only been interested in organization and ideology.  But by the time I came to inspect them, interest had shifted to the history of everyday life, and workers’ views on the family, crime and the law, food, drink and leisure pursuits, had become significant objects of historical research.  It seemed worth transcribing and publishing a selection, therefore, which I did after a couple of years’ work on them.  The resulting collection showed how rank-and-file Social Democrats and labour activists often had views that cut right across the Marxist ideology in which previous historians thought the party had indoctrinated them, because previous historians had lacked the sources to go down beyond the level of official pronouncements in the way the Hamburg police reports made it possible to do. Thus from ‘worthless reports’ there emerged a useful corrective to earlier historical interpretations. This wonderful material, which had survived by chance, had to wait for discovery and exploitation until the historiographical climate had changed. 

Wednesday April 15 2015

In an earlier posting I mentioned that I had ordered Marc Morris’s book about The Norman Conquest, and I have now started reading this.  (Although for some reason the version of it that I have seems to be the American one.)

Morris takes the Bayeux Tapestry as his starting point (as already discussed here in this and (because of its elongated shape) in this).

The events depicted in the Tapestry are of course highly dramatic, but as Morris relates, so too was the subsequent history of the Tapestry:

By any law of averages, the Tapestry ought not to exist.  We know that such elaborate wall-hangings, while hardly commonplace in the eleventh century, were popular enough with the elite that could afford them, because we have descriptions in contemporary documents.  What we don’t have are other surviving examples: all that comes down to us in other cases are a few sorry-looking scraps.  That the Tapestry is still with us almost I ,000 years after it was sewn is astonishing, especially when one considers its later history. It first appears in the written record four centuries after its creation, in 1476, when it is described in an inventory of the treasury at Bayeux Cathedral, from which we learn that the clergy were in the habit of hanging it around the nave every year during the first week of July (an annual airing that would have aided its conservation).  Its survival through those four medieval centuries, escaping the major hazards of war, fire and flood, as well as the more mundane menaces of rodents, insects and damp, is wondrous enough; that it successfully avoided destruction during the modern era is nothing short of miraculous.  When the cathedral’s treasury was looted during the French Revolution, the Tapestry came within a hair’s breadth of being cut up and used to cover military wagons.  Carted to Paris for exhibition by Napoleon, it was eventually returned to Bayeux, where for several years during the early nineteenth century it was indifferently stored in the town hall on a giant spindle, so that curious visitors could unroll it (and occasionally cut bits off). During the Second World War it had yet more adventures: taken again to Paris by the Nazis, it narrowly escaped being sent to Berlin, and somehow managed to emerge unscathed from the flames and the bombs.  The Tapestry’s post-medieval history is a book in itself - one which, happily, has already been written.

What next for it, I wonder?

Saturday January 24 2015

Today, a fine looking day, a day in which many were to be seen wearing both gloves and sunglasses, I went awandering, down Victoria Street to Parliament Square, and then on across the River.

And in Parliament Square, I chanced upon a demo.  I hope to do a longer bit at Samizdata, hopefully tomorrow, about this demo.  In the meantime, here is a little horizontality, helpfully laid on by the demonstrators:

image

Click to get the original bigger picture.

If you want further thoughts from me about “that fatuous construct of political malcontents” called real democracy, follow that link.

And see also what I put in this piece about the Charlie Hebdo demo in Trafalgar Square:

… this was not your usual demo, the sort of demo perpetrated by the demonstrating classes ...

Today’s demo was exactly your usual demo.  Here is a report of what they were trying to do, that being something to do with “Occupy”.  From where I was standing, they failed.

I couldn’t find mainstream media coverage about this demo between this afternoon and now, which could just mean that there was lots and I didn’t find it.  Comments on that very welcome.

LATER: Here is an Evening Standard report.  It seems that what I saw was a failed Occupy demo, bolted onto the end of a somewhat more successful CND demo against Trident.

ALSO: Daily Mail.

Sunday January 18 2015

At that demo a week ago today, there were, of course, and abundance of smartphones being used to soak up snaps:

image imageimage image

And there were tablets being used as well:

image

But more intriguingly, and this was a first for me, I saw smartphones …:

image

… and tablets …:

image

… being used actually to demonstrate.  And as you can see, I wasn’t the only one who was interested.

I’m not sure what this means.  I simply note that it was happening.

Monday January 12 2015

Here, as promised, is a big clutch of photos of signs that I took at the Trafalgar Square demo yesterday.  If you want to, click on a square to get the original photo.  The squares have, in quite a few cases been fiddled out with to make them a bit clearer, but the originals you’ll get to with clicking are exactly as taken.

There were, of course, lots of signs (including many mobile phones and at least one tablet) saying “I AM CHARLIE”, in fact you can see quite a few such if you do some clicking.  But, here are all the signs I photographed that said something else as well, or instead:

image image image imageimage image image imageimage image image imageimage image image imageimage image image imageimage image image imageimage image image imageimage image image imageimage image image imageimage image image imageimage image image imageimage image image imageimage image image imageimage image image imageimage image image image

Of all of these, my two favourites are “Team Civilization”, and “Down With The Tyranny of The Offended” (in French).  But demos are at least as much about quantity as quality, and I trust the sheer number of signs shown here (there were plenty more that I didn’t get to photo) makes the bigger point.  There were a lot of people turning out to denounce these horrible attacks.

Even the rather or almost completely illegible signs are an encouragement, I think, because what these signs tell us is that quite a few people were present, and feeling strongly enough about it to want to wave a sign, who had never been anywhere near such a demo ever before.

Feel free to reproduce any of these images at will, with or without attribution.  If you’d like bigger versions of any of the pictures, my email can be found here, top left, where it says “Contact”.

Sunday December 07 2014

Like half of London, it would seem, I’ve been suffering with a cough and a cold and a headache, finding it hard to sleep.  For some reason it all gets worse at night, especially the headache.  Why?

So a couple of incoming emails from Simon Gibbs, concerning some of the pictures I took at that Cost of Living Debate which he organised last October, really cheered me up.

The first email said that one of the pictures I had taken, of one of the speakers, had enabled Simon to flag up, on YouTube, that speaker’s videoed performance, more attractively than might otherwise have been possible.  A photo was attached…:

image

... which Simon described thus:

One of your digital photos on my TV, via the Virgin Media YouTube app.

Then, very soon after that email, another one, longer:

I managed to make some more appear.

The video quality is okay, but the camera was pointing statically at the whole panel. You zoomed in on individual speakers while in action (or at rest), then I was able to crop and add titles and the resulting thumbnail is better than any individual frame of the video.

Here “better” means “better able to encourage someone to click from a list of videos through to the video itself”, meaning they will stand out from the crowd.

And another picture was attached:

image

I am delighted that my photoing obsession has assisted Simon in his much more strenuous activities.  And I got in for free.

Which reminds me that I should long ago have done my own selection of snaps from that evening, and stuck them up here.  I may yet do this, and maybe quite soon.

Saturday December 06 2014

As earlier promised, a selection of the better photos I took at that Adam Smith Institute Christmas Party:

image image imageimage image imageimage image imageimage image image

Click to get them bigger.  If you want to recycle these photos, please feel free, with or without gratitude to me.  Email me (see top left where it says “Contact") if you’d like any of them bigger.

ASI Christmas Party photos
I finally did something for Samizdata
Pictures of Guy Herbert
The illustrations for Christian Michel’s talk this Friday (plus some thoughts from me)
How Bill Bryson on white and black paint helps to explain the Modern Movement in Architecture
Michael Jennings at the Rose and Crown
ASI Boat Trip 7: Other photographers
ASI Boat Trip 6: Crowd scenes
ASI Boat Trip 5: Individuals
ASI Boat Trip 4: Groups of posing people
Why you are wrong
ASI Boat Trip 3: Drink!
Will England get lucky?
Last night at my place
Anton Howes – James Lawson – Will Hamilton
Nothing from me here today
Well that’s a relief
Green screen blue screen
Remembering another Christian name (and flagging up another talk)
Good question
Alex Singleton at the ASI last night
Making sense of digital photography
The next five Brian’s Last Fridays
Cli-fi
Quotes of the day
Me and the Six Nations under the weather
Better a year late than never
The Qur’an is not science – science cannot be ignored
Brian’s Fridays will resume on the 25th of this month
Is Samizdata in danger of becoming a photo-blog?
Don’t vote Democrat!
Reasons to think Romney is going to win big
How gun control works and how it will defend Libertaria
Why I do not share Johnathan Pearce’s admiration for Bjorn Lomborg
Say it again Perry
A review of Detlev Schlichter’s new book (multiplied by 4)
Release Ai Weiwei
Rally Against Debt signs
Pictures of Detlev Schlichter
Soviet health and safety posters
Wot inflationz?
Yet more redirection
More redirection
Greenies make a video saying: “We’re a bunch of vile greenie-nazis!”
Tim Evans looking happy
Spare A3 paper
Castro slams Israel
As strong and sweet as the free market itself
A demonstration I could join
This is not Mohammed
Incoming from Molly Norris!
Molly Norris was just kidding!
Three cheers for Molly Norris but also a few small grumbles
Everybody draw Mohammed on May 20th!
Why my libertarianism has the look and feel of socialism
SAY NO TO GOVERNMENT MOTORS
What’s up with this?
Antoine Clarke talks about Facebook and Twitter – Guido and … Ian Geldard?
Why I vote against AGW
Hislop fluffs the rhyme
Patri Friedman versus Chris Tame
Signs of the times in Belfast
Daniel Hannan and the shape of the media to come
Kevid Dowd video now up and watchable
Photoing the Police
Meme for the New Depression
Billion Monkeys liked photoing the nastiest poster!
My Oxford talk on Google video – or summarised by a friendly blogger
Preparing for Oxford
Blogging elsewhere and talks elsewhere
Media bias as asset stripping
Tom Burroughes on the banking crisis
Notes on libertarian tactics August 2008
Keith Windschuttle on history - truth - Robert Hughes
Art is always a value judgement
Those were the days and these are no longer the days
“Better value on goods and services across a wide range of categories …”
Paying a visit to Mum
Ed Smith on how baseball defeated cricket in America
Not very ephemeral
LAHTML
Moore versus Stossel on Cuban medical care
“At that moment I suddenly started to view Nagi as an enemy …”
Has global warming stopped?
Billion Monkeys and a Real Photographer at the Golden Umbrellas
Breaking the Left’s stranglehold on the moving image
Links to me elsewhere – and a photo of Marc-Henri Glendening
Bush on Cuba
Talking with Antoine Clarke about Sean Gabb
Will China fail?
Che Guevara was a murderer and your T-Shirt is not cool
Filthy rich
Potlatch wisdom
Links and guns
Personal choice
Who decides?
Ideas and opportunities
On the appeal or lack of it to Young Europeans of “capitalism”
The (very) slow fade of Bolshevik Cuba
How compulsion deranges the spreading of ideas
“What do YOU think?” - “More -isationisation!”
How to handle the complaints of your fiercest critics
Some plain English
The Great Global Warming Swindle debate now begins
On the ideology of the “climate change” debate
But what is so evil about Powerpoint?
Perry de Havilland on the thinking behind Samizdata
Cute jewelry and ideologically induced woe
The extreme memes spread by moderate Muslims
Patrick and Brian mp3 about libertarianism and spreading libertarianism
Guido’s narrative
Latest Brian and Antoine elections around the world mp3
Bashing on for Samizdata
Brian and Antoine mp3s now into double figures
Unintended consequences
Wafa Sultan
Voluntary World 2: You’re on your own
More about rhetoric
Blogging fun and blogging profit
Help the struggle against DRM!
I am not too clever
What The Tyranny of The Facts said
On free trade and on being persuasive (and unpersuasive)