Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
Michael Jennings on Roof party
Francis on A swimming pool in a skyscraper
Natalie Solent on Sign with sarcastic sneer quotes
Brian Micklethwait on Sign with sarcastic sneer quotes
MARK TAHA on Sign with sarcastic sneer quotes
Sajidur Rahman on Out and about in the sunshine
Brandon Smith on Ballerina with cranes again - this time with added spy cameras
Michael Jennings on On meeting an American lady friend who likes to read my stuff about cricket
Michael Jennings on A birthday party with difficult lighting
Antoine Clarke on Waiting for ...
Most recent entries
- Union Jack Minis
- Breaking my Samizdata silence
- On the problems of half-parking with a half-car
- Roof party
- Crane lamp
- Headlights with cleaning brush
- Sign with sarcastic sneer quotes
- Godo and flowers
- Tate cat
- On meeting an American lady friend who likes to read my stuff about cricket
- A birthday party with difficult lighting
- On the unappealingness of classical music on the internet
- Bright buildings in front of dark sky
- Waiting for …
- The ballerina and her support act
Other Blogs I write for
6000 Miles from Civilisation
A Decent Muesli
Adventures in Capitalism
Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise
Another Food Blog
Antoine Clarke's Election Watch
Armed and Dangerous
Art Of The State Blog
Boatang & Demetriou
Burning Our Money
Chase me ladies, I'm in the cavalry
China Law Blog
Civilian Gun Self-Defense Blog
Coffee & Complexity
Communities Dominate Brands
Confused of Calcutta
Conservative Party Reptile
Counting Cats in Zanzibar
Deleted by tomorrow
Don't Hold Your Breath
Douglas Carswell Blog
Dr Robert Lefever
Englands Freedome, Souldiers Rights
Everything I Say is Right
Fat Man on a Keyboard
Ferraris for all
Freedom and Whisky
From The Barrel of a Gun
Gates of Vienna
Global Warming Politics
Greg Mankiw's Blog
Guido Fawkes' blog
Here Comes Everybody
Hit & Run
House of Dumb
Iain Dale's Diary
Jeffrey Archer's Official Blog
Jessica Duchen's classical music blog
Laissez Faire Books
Last of the Few
Libertarian Alliance: Blog
Liberty Dad - a World Without Dictators
Lib on the United Kingdom
Little Man, What Now?
Loic Le Meur Blog
L'Ombre de l'Olivier
London Daily Photo
Metamagician and the Hellfire Club
Michael J. Totten's Middle East Journal
More Than Mind Games
Mutualist Blog: Free Market Anti-Capitalism
My Boyfriend Is A Twat
My Other Stuff
Nation of Shopkeepers
Never Trust a Hippy
Non Diet Weight Loss
Nurses for Reform blog
Obnoxio The Clown
On an Overgrown Path
One Man & His Blog
Owlthoughts of a peripatetic pedant
Oxford Libertarian Society /blog
Patri's Peripatetic Peregrinations
Police Inspector Blog
Private Sector Development blog
Remember I'm the Bloody Architect
Setting The World To Rights
SimonHewittJones.com The Violin Blog
Sky Watching My World
Social Affairs Unit
Squander Two Blog
Stuff White People Like
Stumbling and Mumbling
Technology Liberation Front
The Adam Smith Institute Blog
The Becker-Posner Blog
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the blog of dave cole
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The Welfare State We're In
UK Commentators - Laban Tall's Blog
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Violins and Starships
we make money not art
What Do I Know?
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This and that
Category archive: This blog
Inevitably, in some of these cross-examinations, this blog came up, with me saying that I write here about whatever I feel like writing about, with very little thought for the interests of my readers. Cats on Fridays, general trivia, etc. I do Big Issues at Samizdata and trivia here. Blah blah.
However, an American lady friend, whom I had not met in quite a while and whom I was very pleased to meet again, told me that she quite liked my trivia stuff, and that she even read my postings about cricket (this being the most recent one). I thought that only I and Michael Jennings and Darren the Surrey Member were at all interested in those. It seems not.
I’m guessing that this interest on her part is partly actual interest, but also partly that a principle is at stake here. Which is: that the trivia that other people are interested in, but not you, is not actually an entirely trivial matter. Life is not only Big Issues. It is the small pleasures that give colour and texture and individuality to life. Watever matters, to someone, matters. Your opinion about what the Big Issues are should not be allowed to drive a tank or a government bureaucracy over my trivial pleasures.
So, her reading about the trivial pleasures of others is her asserting this Big Issue to herself, as well as maybe learning something about other little parts of the world, like the world of cricket (actually quite big of course, as I daresay are the worlds of embroidery and gardening and croquet and rap music and all the other little things in life that I don’t personally care about, other than to believe that tanks or government bureaucracies should not be driven over them).
Me being me, my way of asserting the importance of trivia, in general, to people, in general, is me writing about the trivia that interests me.
Her way of asserting the importance of trivia to people generally is her reading about the trivia that others write about. But we are both making the same point.
I don’t want to say that I have entirely described why my American lady friend likes to read what I write about cricket. I merely speculate that the above speculations might be a quite small part of why she does this.
(She, like me, probably also thinks that thinking about trivia can often lead to interesting angles on Big Issues, of the sort that merely looking straight at the Big Issues might cause you to miss. Pointless fun and truly original insight are often delightfully close neighbours, I think. But that’s a tangent for another time, hence this paragraph being in brackets.)
Blogging here will temporarily cease after this posting, and will resume at or about the middle of next week. I will be back. Have a good week.
Meanwhile, as a visual au revoir, here is another of the many photos I took last night, from that tiny little artificial urban mountain that is Stave Hill:
Through the gasometer in the foreground, we see the Dome of St Paul’s (attended by many cranes), the BT Tower, and on the left, with the spikey bobble on its top, the top of the Monument.
I tried to time my arrival at Stave Hill with the arrival of sunset, but got there far, far too early. So, I waited, and read a book. I hope you agree with me that it was worth the wait.
The are two photos which I took last Monday. The one with the bright blue sky, me looking up, was taken in Wigmore Street. The one looking down, was taken from the ME Hotel Radio Rooftop Bar.
They are photos not so much of roof clutter, as of roofs, roof in all their elaborately designed glory. But, you can spot the late twentieth century incursions:
The aesthetic impact of radio and television aerials does not seem to be much discussed in the architectural world. It could be that it has, and I merely haven’t noticed, but I don’t think that’s it.
Here is what I think is going on inside the heads of architectural aestheticians, on this subject. The deal we will make with you mindless philistines is: you can have your damn aerials, because we know that if you are not allowed, by us, to have your damn aerials, you will hut us down and burn us at the stake. But, we refuse to talk about them. We will not incorporate them into our aesthetic theories of how things look, and should look. We will not see them.
Which is how we got from the above scenario, where everything on the roof is elaborately designed, but the first few aerials have crept into the pictures, but have not been seen by the architects and their aesethetic guides, to this:
Yet still, they don’t see it and they don’t talk about.
Really, really weird.
I’ve been pondering roof clutter for a while now, but the more I ponder it, the more weird the phenomenon is.
What this reminds me of is a distinction that my sociology teachers at Essex University all those years ago made much of, that between the sacred and the profane. The sacred stuff here is the regular “architecture”, the walls, the windows, the roofs, the interiors, and so on. All of that is sacred, and is accordingly obsessed over, every tiny square inch of it, every subtle colour change, just as priests obsess about every word in a prayer.
But those aerials are profane. They don’t register. They aren’t architecture, any more than a tracksuit worn by a impoverished member of the congregation in a church is a sacred vestment, the details of which must be argued about by bishops and theologians, or the sales pitch being done over the phone on Monday morning (by someone who had been devoutly praying on Sunday) is itself a prayer. That sales pitch is profane. Forget about it. Don’t even think about it.
Those aerials, in among the sacredness of all those designed chimneys and roofs and little towers, are profane. And hence invisible. Aerials are designed, by aerial designers, to make sense of radio waves. But they are not designed to be looked at. They are a pure case of form following function. Architects ought to love them, if they believed their prayers. But they don’t because what is there for architects to add? Nothing. The job has all been done, by profane aerial designers.
Well, I don’t know. I’m thinking as I go along here, but writing it anyway. Which is all part of why I have this blog. At this blog, I am allowed to be wrong. This is a thinking allowed zone, you might say, a place where the thinking does not have to be done before the blogging begins. This is, you might say, a profane blog.
I just came across this video, here, again, which has had many hits on Youtube. Like millions of others, I like it a lot. It’s Louis C.K., complaining about people who complain about modern life and all its wondrous new gadgetry. I was going to stick the video here, but it wouldn’t fit. (Anyone know how to make it 500 wide instead of 560? Maybe I should redesign my blog wider.) But follow that link and scroll down a bit to where it says: “- it’s very funny”; and then, in white on black at the top of the video: “+Everthing’s+Amazing+ +Nobody’s+Happy”. And then click and enjoy.
Part of why improved gadgets don’t automatically make us happy is that everyone gets to have a go on them, but what really makes a lot of us happy is improved relative status. New gadgets create a different world, in which we may as likely as not be demoted in status, below others who understand the new gadgets better.
There is also the particular genius of the gadgeteers to be considered, compared to our own ungenii. New gadgets can make many of us feel like savages, out of our depth in a world of wonders, less capable (because utterly incapable of producing such a wondrous gadget), rather than more capable (through possessing the gadget).
In the article linked to, there is speculation that old people are more easily pleased, by things. I certainly enjoy digital photography, as all regulars here will know, and you obviously enjoy that or you’d not be a regular. I also enjoy typing verbiage into my magic machine and this magic blog. Perhaps a reason why these things please me so much is that I am old, and had been waiting for such things to be possible for such a very, very long time. For decades, I fretted about my inability to make pictures without fuss and write stuff without fuss, and show both to other people whenever I felt like it, again without fuss. Now I can do these things. Any envy I feel towards the people who contrived these wonder is dwarfed by the pleasure I get in doing these things, finally. I know, I’ve been showing off my pictures and babbling away at various blogs for well over a decade. But like I say, I’m old, and more than a decade is nothing to how long I spent waiting for these things to be possible, all the while not even knowing if they ever would be. I had become used to knowing that these things might never happen, which means that I still can’t quite believe that they have happened, which means that they still make me happy.
So this is me trying to post this. I just wrote a posting about something else, but it refuses to register all the text. So, will it register this text? This posting may be your lot for today, I’m afraid.
Well, this seems to be working. So why not the earlier posting, which actually said something?
LATER: Problem (sort of) solved, for the posting you see above is now visible, above. I had omitted an ”< / a >“, which signifies the end of a link, so the link went on for ever, and immediately after that for ever link I tried to include that rather big picture. This was too much for the system and it just refused to register any of the text as having any sort of future on the blog itself, even though it was still all there.
And now I’m not sure that ”< / a >“ will come out, so now this posting may degenerate into chaos. It has. I had to rewrite it as ”< / a >“ with lots of unnecessary gaps, for it to show up at all.
I often cheat about timings of late night postings, by doing them in the very early morning and then subtracting enough time to time them at just before midnight. Perhaps you’ve noticed. You may even have got very slightly angry. This began when I was writing, just after midnight, about something had just been to, and wanted to put “earlier this evening” rather than “last night”. Last night is until you have gone to bed, no matter when. Today starts when you wake up, not at midnight last night. By this somewhat foul but on-the-whole fair reckoning, I have managed to post something-every-day-however-crap for the last several months.
But last-night-stroke-this-morning I was unable even to do this, because from 0:24am exactly until around 4am-ish (guess), earlier “today”, i.e. last night, brianmicklethwait.com was out of action, which meant that not only couldn’t anyone read it, but that I couldn’t post to it.
It being so late, I couldn’t politely ring The Guru, but I did email him, and he emailed me back at once. It turned out that he was even then Working On It. (Something to do with changing IP addresses, for some reason or other.) He was even able to tell me, with a second email, exactly when the problem had begun, which I hadn’t known.
Anyway, my basic point is: sorry.
“Sorry” is one of the most complicated words in the English language, especially here in England. Sorry is by no means the hardest word to say, in England. We say it constantly, to mean any number of apologetic and non-apologetic things. So make of this sorry whatever you will.
As anyone who noticed the sudden piling up of moronic spam comments here may have suspected, I had an internet disconnect crisis last night, and it was still in effect this morning. I fiddled about with wires, last night and again this morning, because the last time it happened this is what solved it. I did lots of rebooting last night to no avail, so didn’t bother to do this again this morning. Instead I rang The Guru.
It was amazing how much The Guru was this morning able to learn about the problem, by which I mean to learn what the problem was not, just by unleashing his remote control Superpowers. He then suggested another rebooting, and I did this, just to humour him, and back it all came. But why? What was I doing right, all of a sudden? Very troubling.
It’s like that pivotal moment in movie history when Harrison Ford, in one of the first and good trio of Star Wars movies, got a bit of electrical kit in his spaceship to work properly by smacking it.
Late last year I decided that since my blogging software puts a small gap between lines of photos automatically, I would put a small gap between pictures horizontally. This was easily done, with the html clutch of symbols to say space, which I do not know how to reproduce here, because all they do is create a space.
So anyway, I worked away at the slightly reduced sizes that pictures would need to be to fit in sideways, carefully checking that what looked like the final answer to two side by side, three in a horizontal row, four in a horizontal row, etc., would all work.
Unfortunately, I did not give sufficient attention to the tool which magnifies or diminishes my blog from its basic 100 percent size. The problem, I later discovered was the 110 percent setting.
In this posting from last December, for instance, it produced results like this:
Yesterday I went back through my archives, with the magnification set at 110 percent, and reduced the size of every little picture by one pixel, after which everything fitted, for all percentage reductions or increases. Luckily I have not been doing this horizontal space thing that long.
You want to look your best, and all now should be well:
There has to be an easier way to do this kind of thing, but with me and blogging, in fact with me and computers generally, whatever I can get to work is what I do. Like a rat in a maze, once I have found a way around, however circuitous, which nevertheless gets me there, that is the way I go from then on.
Such are the little dramas of blogging.
Bits of music at non-musical blogs
Long Title (with italics)
A quota thought that (luckily for me) went nowhere
The Heron Tower restaurant
Reflections on a strange coincidence involving an Android app and a malfunctioning bus stop sign
And another posting from my smartphone
Posted from my new smartphone
More March 5th photographers (and more spaces between pictures)
Looking along Victoria Street to The Wheel (and on how to be liked (or disliked) by Google)
All change at Samizdata and another outage here
More photographers photographed
Outage here last night - and the possible Wordpress future of this blog
Patrick Crozier has just arranged for accessing ancient comments here to be much easier
PID at Samizdata
Turning back the spam comment tide and allowing proper comments from way back still to be read
Back there and now back here
Internet connection problems
Back to at least one a day?
A happy British Summer Time to all my readers
Steve Baker MP
Happy New Year
A Happy Christmas to all those still reading this
My personal Fixed Quantity of Blogging unfallacy
Summer blogging break
Possible light blogging for the next week
BrianMicklethwaitDotCom not threatened by the end of the Big Thing Boom
Problems here (now sorted)
I can do squares!!!
A laptop but not in my lap
Is this blog somewhat broken?
Back to the future
If you can’t read this don’t worry
Is Timberland guilty of spam commenting me?
Yesterday and today
On cricket and death
Choosing the best pictures by waiting a few days
This is not Mohammed
Three cheers for Molly Norris but also a few small grumbles
Getting well soon
Climategate and a blurry and artificially lit roundabout
Four recent bits by me at Samizdata
Possible holiday interruption
Happy New Year and how to save seventy thousand quid
Short posting (with short photo) about SpaceShipTwo
In which this blog indulges in an I Told You So moment concerning Speaker John Bercow
It’s now something at least once every two days
Me and Michael Jennings talk tech trends
Busy day and busy night
Thinking thin at the top
Register for your free pack and five £1-off-coupons
British Summer Time is better for this blog
God is dead but Jesus saves
God moves in mysterious ways
Brian Micklethwait’s Education Blog is now on indefinite hold
Advice to daily bloggers
Another Samizdata piece
First picture posted to this blog from the wild
At Liberty 2008 all day
Blogroll dilemma - question I already know the answer to - irrelevant photo
Connection problems - now sorted
Profundity and silliness
Not in the top twenty
Mainstream media bloggers and the problem of my blogroll
Posting here may be sporadic for the next few days
An impulse posting about procrastination
The return of Friday cat-blogging
On hating and not hating commenters
Blogging – the end of the beginning
I don’t understand it either but don’t worry
What kind of blogger are you?
Italics in Expression Engine titles?
RSS feed news
Alisher Usmanov is now better known for being nasty
Links and guns
Back from the dead and soon to be duplicated
Christopher Hitchens on the Rushdie knighthood
A mention of your book guaranteed!
Today I ate something that disagreed with me
Internet problems solved
More internet connection problems
John Holloway plays unaccompanied Bach on the baroque violin
At least I got today’s obligatory posting done before midnight
Airship photos loading tri-incidence
Testing picture loading
[new addition to my blogroll]
Blogging pause continues
29th and 14th
Not much here today
Something to bore everyone
Lords pictures pending
Attacks of the mad robots and the little red crosses
Sound files take up a lot more space than photos
Hello and goodbye
Unplugged and writing about sport because sport Doesn’t Matter
For the next two weeks or so service here will be abnormal to nonexistent
The new comments arrangement – why and how
Flickr blog in and Flickrzen out
Another view of the BT Tower
Expression Engine text input weirdness
A Happy Christmas to all my readers
Why the problems?
I kept going after all!
This and that at 9.07am
So that’s this done
Total Combined Page Hits?
Picture problems (again)
On short postings
Today I am going to break the record here for the number of postings in one day
From now on I’m going to try to put something up here every day
To hell with experts
The joy of blogrolling
An east London photo on the right
Look what I saw from the airplane
I’m still at the housekeeping stage which is why I haven’t deliberately told anyone about this blog
I now have a blogroll
Testing how the linking works