Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
Tatyana on English is weird
Brian Micklethwait on New York construction cranes in action
Andrew Duffin on New York construction cranes in action
Friday Night SMoke on English is weird
Scott Morter on 55 Broadway
Ben on Incoming imagery from Antoine
Brian Micklethwait on Face recognition – face disguise – the age of pseudo-omniscience
Brian Micklethwait on The new US Embassy – from my roof
Brian Micklethwait on New Thin Things in New York (but not in Lower Manhattan)
Michael Jennings on The new US Embassy – from my roof
Most recent entries
- Brexit graphics
- Brilliant Brian’s Last Friday talk
- Referendum day graphics
- Big Things and viewing galleries in the Square Mile
- Why I like Cricinfo
- English is weird
- The Union Jack’s near death experience(s?)
- New York construction cranes in action
- Some thoughts on the Izzard effect
- Lioness eats camera
- An MP murdered
- A great new bridge in Iran
- Lions - Bears - Blackhawks
- An electric car recharging itself in The Cut
- WWWhite Van
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6000 Miles from Civilisation
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Category archive: Current events
Now that it’s been decided that we shall Brexit, Dezeen reports on what creatives have been creating to mark the event. Here are the two images they reproduce which I think are the most striking:
Both of these images are intended as expressions of regret that Britain has voted for Brexit, but neither quite say that, or not to me. What, after all, is so great for a balloon about being stuck in a whole bunch of other balloons? It’s creator says: “sad day”, but it doesn’t look that sad to me. It just looks like a change. If he was merely describing, relatively objectively, what had happened, then I guess: fair enough.
As for the disintegrating, weeping Union Jack, that would work far better as an expression of regret, in the event that Britain had voted Remain rather than Leave. It is national flags like this one one that the EU has been working tirelessly to replace with its own flag. Very odd. But, a striking image nevertheless.
First, this, which was the graphic on the front page of today’s pro-Remain Daily Mirror, and reproduced at Samizdata, which Natalie Solent reckons sends a somewhat ambiguous message. I agree. Because REMAIN is in the biggest letters, it looks like it could be saying that if you vote REMAIN, you’ll be sucked into a black hole. As you will, by the way, if enough people do this. This is indeed the fate that awaits us all, in the event of a REMAIN victory. One of the reasons why this graphic only works when misunderstood, is that when misunderstood, it becomes true!
The thing is, the EU is a lot nearer to being like a black hole than us leaving the EU is. For that message, they needed something more like an endless desert, or a huge tundra, or maybe some grim maritime scene, doom-laden as far as they eye can see.
The enormity of this decision is, I feel, appropriately reflected in the deranged graphics which occurred when this picture got loaded up. Samizdata usually centres pictures automatically, and also makes them smaller automatically, if they need to be smaller. That doesn’t seem to be happening at the moment.
In the comment thread on that posting, I mentioned that it was raining. Which it was, torrentially. But alas, it soon cleared up, thereby not dampening down the London (= Remain) vote as much it might have if it had rained with less violence but greater steadiness. I mean, they even managed to have a shortened game of cricket at Lord’s, after the rain had stopped.
And on the right there, Elizabeth Hurley, who will have voted Leave by now, that being the picture she Twittered yesterday along with her support for Leave. There she stands, wearing only high-healed sandals and a Union Jack cushion, or that’s how it looks. Thankyou Guido. She was probably right that this would get noticed, and would aid the cause she favours. But I bet the Leavers have been circulating their own interpretations of this rather odd picture. Is the picture recent, I wonder, or does it date from way back?
At least it is upbeat and optimistic in atmosphere, unlike that black hole.
One of the more intriguing consequences of the not-now-so-very-recent (what with another one coming along) Scottish independence referendum (which happened in September 2014) was that, rather suddenly, the world (by which I really mean: I) suddenly found itself (myself) contemplating the idea of the Union Jack flag disappearing into the history books. Had Scotland gone separate, the Union Jack would surely have had to be redesigned. I would not have regretted Scotland detatching itself from England, in fact I would have voted for this if I could have. But, I would have regretted the passing of the Union Jack, if only because it is such a great design, so recognisable that it is capable of being endlessly mucked about with, while still remaining the Union Jack.
The new, non Scottish version of the Union Jack might have looked a bit like the bag on the left here, as we look:
That snap was snapped in 2015, after the Scottish referendum, but I don’t think those designs have anything to do with politics. They’re just simplified and rather dull variations on the Union Jack theme. The one on the left just happens to look a lot like the Union Jack minus the Saltire. (Saltire is the Scottish flag, right? Yes.) But what does the one on the right signify? In terms of the flags that go towards the Union Jack, it takes the blue stripes from the Saltire and turns them into a background for the red bits of the Welsh and English flags. So actually, it’s just a blue bag, with bits of red Union Jack-ish stuff on it. Maybe there was also a red one with white Union Jack-ish stuck on, to complete the red white and blue set. I might never have bothered showing the above photo here, if it hadn’t been for the Saltire subtraction angle.
I had already been snapping Union Jack snaps, since quite a while before that moment of the Union Jack’s possible moment of disappearance. I long ago added “funny things being done with the Union Jack” to my mental photo-category list, alongside such things as bald blokes taking photos, utilitarian and commonplace footbridges, taxis covered in adverts, Big Things seen from a long way away in among foreground clutter, and so forth and so on. But, since that earlier referendum, I have been taking photos of Union Jacks with particular zeal.
Here are a couple of very recent Union Jack snaps I did. The first is of some flip-flops, on sale at the Parliament end of Westminster Bridge:
I reckon it’s the cellophane that gives that its artistic effect.
And here is a London taxi wing mirror:
That taxi décor isn’t part of an advert. It is just a taxi decorated with the Union Jack.
And then, while I was ruminating on a posting along these lines, came this piece of graphic Union Jackery, from the Spectator, to decorate their decision to back the Leave campaign in the forthcoming EU referundum:
This reminded me of a picture I took in East London five years ago, of some Art:
I could continue, with yet more Union Jack snaps, but I will end with some more Brexit propaganda. Still on the flying theme, just before I took the above snap of how fabulous Britain will be and will feel if we Leave, here, taken just moments earlier, is another Artistic-type picture of how ghastly things will be and will feel if we Remain. That’s the EU there, trying and failing to take wing, because its bureaucracy is far too big and heavy and its wings far too feeble and misshapen, crushing us as it plummets to earth:
Are you thinking that there really needs to be a Union Jack on that car, to make this point even clearer? But that’s exactly point! The EU scrubs out the Union Jack. Look! The Union Jack is nowhere to be seen! The EU has totally obliterated it! What could be clearer?
Slightly more seriously, the EU’s rulers will not be happy until they have driven the Union Jack into the history books, not by breaking up Britain, but by swallowing it and turning it into either fuel for itself, or shit. The only Union they want, and want celebrated with a flag, is their own.
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.
As nudged by Simon Gibbs yesterday, I did indeed make my way to Trafalgar Square to check out Kenny and his Brexit chalk-proclamation.
The photos I sent to Libertarian Home yesterday evening were strictly utilitarian, to tell LH exactly what Kenny had written. Read the entire thing there.
Here, on the other hand, are some pictures which give more of an idea of how it looked, what the atmosphere was, and what Kenny himself looks like:
The atmosphere was low-key, actually. There were no scenes or arguments, although I did hear the occasional “not going to read it all because it says Out”, as people walked away. Others, however, did stop and read. Most significant, I would guess, were those with mobile phones who were, unlike me, maybe passing it on with twenty-first century immediacy. (I had to wait until I got home before I could send off my photos.)
I had to wait a while for Kenny to finish his efforts. I got there before 3pm, and it wasn’t until just after 5pm that he was done. And he started at 10am.
But it was worth the wait, and there was plenty else in Trafalgar Square to divert me, and to take photos of. But photos like that can wait. First things first, and that means Kenny.
Nothing much here today, but I just did three Samizdata postings today and yesterday:
I have always felt that the fascination with cat photos that has engulfed the internet was somehow more important than just being a matter of cat photos, engulfing the internet. Now it seems that cat photos are a threat to Islam, and must be forbidden. For me, cats means pure fun. No purpose is served. Other than the purpose (purr-puss) of having fun. And it seems that there is this crazy Sheikh who also thinks that photoing cats is pure fun also, and that this is why photoing cats should be forbidden. For him, I guess, fun is never pure. Quite the opposite.
One of my regular automatic google-searches is “face recognition”, and just now this has been alerting me to all the various tricks that are coming on stream for making face recognition not work, by putting on make-up, or spectacles, and such like.
Here is my contribution to this discussion:
I know what you’re thinking. Who might that be?
Exactly. Although, if you’re are supercomputer, you have probably worked it out. You have a special programme which tells you to take particular interest in any faces that are trying to not be recognised.
Most of my libertarian friends think that such tech solutions are the front line of this battle. I have long assumed that the world is moving rapidly towards a state where the question of what is X doing at the moment is technologically answerable, and impossible to prevent being answered. For me, among other desirable things, libertarianism is the claim that although we can see X saying or doing something we don’t approve of, we shouldn’t legally prevent him or her from doing that, unless it is really, really bad.
In a world of Total Surveillance by the Big Machine, the proliferation of stupid rules and regulations with no huge moral content becomes a problem like it never used to be. I means rules about things like what you should eat or smoke or, now, say in conversation. Rules like that mean that we can all now be seen and heard breaking such rules. (Okay, maybe not now, maybe not yet, but that’s where things are headed.) And that means that anyone who wants to fuck up your life or my life (for an actual real reason that has bugger all to do with the stupid rule actually being broken) can then do it. Worse, some legislative maniac might demand that anyone that the Big Machine sees breaking this or that rule that he personally is obsessed about, should be automatically fucked over, by the Big Machine, with no human intervention involved. With a big long list of exceptions, like legislators. The Big Machine can’t touch them. Libertarianism has arisen, partly, because it has become ever more necessary to insist on certain principles, principles which were imposed upon the world in former times by sheer ignorance of what other people were getting up to.
The other thing people have to do is develop thicker skins, psychologically speaking I mean, because although legislative pressure is not now a problem for most people, social pressure can become a big problem, for example if you find yourself being mobbed on the internet for some innocuous thing you said or ate. Just because a million idiots on the internet are screeching that you are an idiot, that doesn’t mean you are, or that if you are, it matters. When it does matter, bosses should chill, and not fire people just because the mob is screeching. I applaud, tentatively, the recent tendency to give social media mobsters a going-over, using the same methods on them that they have been using. Who is this mad bitch? What has she (it does often seem to be she) been up to lately? What is her job? Who is her boss? Etc. (In the age of cyber-bullying, I feel that I now understand witchcraft crazes better.)
Another problem is that as something easily mistaken for a state of everyone knowing everything increasingly pertains, that old illusion that everything will accordingly be centrally plannable is likely to keep rearing its very ugly head, and keep on having to be experienced as a disastrous illusion. (More libertarianism.) The point is, everyone doesn’t know everything. Nothing like. We can’t. Our heads aren’t big enough, and even if they were, knowledge is not like that. Everyone can known anything in particular that is easy to know (like where X is just now) that they want to know and ask the Big Machine about. That’s entirely different from actual omniscience.
The stubbornness against Cruz is personal. We are fellow Houstonians. I know many people who have worked with him and many more who know someone who has. I’ve followed his career since late 2010 when my husband asked me to look into a lawyer named Ted Cruz, former solicitor general. Word in the Texas lawyer circles was that he wanted to challenge Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst for retiring Kay Bailey Hutchinson’s Senate seat. It was an impossible task according to the conventional wisdom. But many of the grassroots conservatives were tired of the party’s conventional wisdom.
Cruz covered every county in Texas, and he won votes with every hand he shook. People liked his ideas, and they liked him. He went from two per cent name recognition to an early call and huge victory in the Republican primary. (In Texas, that is the election.) I was there, and I liked what I saw.
But that is the people. And his staff. They are loyal. Intellectuals and party players, and the friends of those intellectuals and party players, however, sound like George W. Bush, “I just don’t like that guy.”
I’ve asked for substantive objections. They don’t come. Even the personality objections lack details. “Not nice.” Stories like mine about the kiss or videos of a dad taking a moment to airplane with his daughter, those don’t get air.
I’ve come to the same conclusion as this citizen journalist, “I believe what these elitists hate the most is that they feel that Ted Cruz looks down on them. Ted Cruz doesn’t respect them because they have money, or because they went to Harvard, or because they are men of power. Ted Cruz is motivated by principle, not class. Ted Cruz has a political agenda and a love of constitution that overrules loyalty to his Ivy League brethren.”
For the egos of his Ivy League brethren and their friends, we are jeopardising our Republic. Because they “just don’t like that guy”, we risk nominating the fickle and hardly likeable Donald Trump for president and actually electing the conniving Hillary Clinton. The American experiment is at stake, and our elites are pouting that the man rising to lead is not their kind of guy.
True, he is not. And that is why the people like him.
All of which only serves to flesh out some of things said by Tom Grey in a comment he recently attached to my earlier Cruz piece.
In my opinion, an amazing proportion of the trouble in the world is caused by men - mostly it is men - disagreeing about their relative importance in the world. The GOP’s top dogs think they are topper dogs than young whippersnapper Cruz, but Cruz does not acknowledge this, because he’s a whippersnapper. Which is why the voters like Ted Cruz and why the GOP elite hate Ted Cruz.
It’s now looking like Cruz may be the Sun Tzuist, rather than Trump. And it looks as though the long-term significance of the Trump phenomenon may be that he is clearing the path for Cruz, by making a sufficient number of Republicans like Cruz, simply because he is not Trump. More probably, there is no Sun Tzu happening here. This is just how it happens to be turning out.
More anti-Trumpery here. Summary: Trump won’t stand up to detailed scrutiny. For starters, he ain’t nearly as rich as he pretends.
All of which is great for people like me and Tom Grey, who like Cruz because he is Cruz.
On the other hand … Trumpophrenia strikes again.
Brexit as a clash of pessimisms
More drone trouble
Old photos of Enceladus
Corbyn – and an advert bus
Early thoughts on the Rugby World Cup
A testicle eating killer fish headline and drone dramas
On photos and headlines
William Hague on the collapse of the centre left
Photoing and communicating the devastation of Tianjin
Smoke over west London
An interesting front page story
Oh yes it could
Drone on the White House lawn
Sixty Charlie Hebdo demo signs that say something other than “Je Suis Charlie”
Charlie Hebdo demo in Trafalgar Square
Russia unleashes tiger on China
Michael Jennings talking about Russia this Friday
A Bitcoin vending machine and a Lego photographer (and a Lego Hawking)
The Met swoops on the Adams Family
Mark Steyn on Obama’s Hoover Dam and me on paywalls
On the insecurity of ObamaCare - and on the unwisdom of only punishing big and later
The Walkie Talkie and its surroundings
Interesting software NewZ
Craig Willy on Emmanuel Todd
BMdotCOM mixed metaphor of the day
New crane up
Close-up of the ruined Vauxhall crane
Are Christian social conservatives using the Tea Party to impose social conservatism?
Some more presidential debate prophecy
Pat Caddell on mainstream media bias
Reasons to think Romney is going to win big
And on my other personal blog …
University of California chickens coming home to roost?
Occupy St Paul’s pictures
Street social services management integrated command sub-centres
The England rugby aftermath
Go Gary Johnson!
The Jobs difference
Freedom Tower and Gary Johnson at Samizdata
A review of Detlev Schlichter’s new book (multiplied by 4)
Kevin Dowd last night
Friday link dump
Gordon Brown curses the United Kingdom
Go Not Obama!
BrianMicklethwaitDotCom not threatened by the end of the Big Thing Boom
That’s what I call a Health and Safety Notice
Absolutely not a private navy (except that it probably is)
Why I prefer blogging to writing for a magazine
Julian Assange drove Daniel Domscheit-Berg’s cat Herr Schmitt crazy
Me and Patrick Crozier talk about the banking crisis and its possible consequences
Wagga Wagga has been flooded by the Murrumbidgee River
Scientology enthusiast is now Climate Change Minister
Rockets are a great improvement on balloons
Toby Baxendale on what went wrong and what to do about it
Peaceful time in war zone
Tim Evans looking happy
Choosing the best pictures by waiting a few days
At the launch of Alchemists of Loss
Nuking the Oil Spill is probably a rather bad idea
Apple passed Microsoft in market capitalisation today
Incoming from Molly Norris!
Voice and exit
Does Google now rule the world of computing?
Antoine Clarke on the Massachusetts election and the online effect
Talking about The Hockey Stick Illusion with Bishop Hill
SAY NO TO GOVERNMENT MOTORS
Three airplane photos
Stepping forward into the abyss!
Yet more ramblings about Guesswhatgate
Picture of an aftershock of the credit crunch rippling around the world
ClimateGate roars on and Man(n)-made warming is taking on a whole new meaning
Gaddafi looking rather like Alan Rickman
Paul Marks on the financial crisis and on the badness of Obama
Prodicus (and me) on the shitness of the LibDems
Bercow versus the party which picked him
The Instadaughter on the morals of actors
Old Holborn lets rip at Labour in a Guido comment
Why I object to Madam Scotland and why I don’t
In which this blog indulges in an I Told You So moment concerning Speaker John Bercow
Great speech by Kevin Dowd in Paris which should be available to listen to soon
What Bercow does next
Another politician who looks like a noted comedy actor of yesteryear
What next for Guido Fawkes?
Thoughts on the Go Gordon petition
My opinion of yesterday’s budget
Two Samizdata comments on the sinking of Brown and on the sinking of the Daily Telegraph
“What did you just say?”
Patri Friedman versus Chris Tame
At Samizdata: cricket - crime - Kevin Dowd quote
My confusion about free banking
What the previous two postings here have in common
Daniel Hannan and the shape of the media to come
Kevid Dowd video now up and watchable
Headlines of the times
MBA - necessary but insufficient
Paul Marks on the financial crisis
TARP stuff - and a trip to Sheffield
Meme for the New Depression
Kevin Dowd says what should be done
Evening Standard hand-done billboards go printed shock
Is the contemporary art bubble bursting?
P. J. O’Rourke confuses the average with the significant
Why Willem Buiter blogs and why I do
Photo-ing the news in Evening Standard headlines
Another pendulum theory
Reasons to be a bit more cheerful
Antoine and Michael on what to do now
Not the book I want to read right now - maybe later
Obama still won’t do nasty
“Who are you going to sell it to if we don’t buy it?”
Armed is less dangerous
More Beijing smog-blogging
Brown leapfrogs Cameron with 36 point jump
Guido on Gordon
The personal and the political
Paul Marks told us so
Big, Bigger, Biggest - starring Heathrow Terminal 5
Talking with Antoine about the US election and about libertarian politics in the US and in the UK
Antoine Clarke talking about the US Primaries
Tatiana the normal tiger
Billion Monkeys and a Real Photographer at the Golden Umbrellas
Photoing dusk on automatic
Nothing untoward happening!
Three … thirty six … sixty one … a hundred a forty eight …
Alisher Usmanov is now better known for being nasty
Richard Dawkins on the Muhammad cartoons affair
Back lit Billion Monkey lady and back lit Saturn!
I know the feeling
Armed police in Hertford hunt big cat
The Great Global Warming Swindle debate now begins
What are the world’s biggest problems?
Emmanuel Todd (1): Anthropology explains ideology
And further talk at Christian Michel’s about water and power
Islam is evil - and that’s me carrying on normally
Billion Monkeys and people waving blue things!
Antoine says why he got the midterms wrong
The West disunited versus the Pesky Muslims
The extreme memes spread by moderate Muslims
Antoine Clarke talks with me about votes for women (and teenagers) – and about Sweden
Latest Brian and Antoine mp3 - Middle East, Mexico, USA
Something to bore everyone
Latest Brian and Antoine elections around the world mp3
Brian and Antoine mp3s now into double figures
Billion Monkeys stop cover-ups!
Listening to Peter Briffa’s first podcast
I won’t be doing any television myself in the near future but in the meantime have a watch of this
4th Generation Warfare in the middle of an advanced Western Country
Car bomb in Bogota
China is economically way ahead of India
Daniel Cuthbert - wrongly convicted “hacker” - and photographer
Phrase of the day
FEMA - not as well informed as the general public
More on Katrina
Two interesting predictions
Katrina as art – and Katrina as proof of What I’ve Always Said