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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: This blog

Thursday July 17 2014

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:

image image

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:

image

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.

Saturday June 21 2014

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.

Wednesday May 21 2014

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?

Odd.

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.

Good night.

Thursday April 03 2014

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.

Saturday March 22 2014

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.

Tuesday February 04 2014

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:

image

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:

image

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.

Friday January 31 2014

I have my favourite bloggers.  Mick Hartley, 6k and David Thompson being my most regular visitees.  Two of these three (see those two links) often put up clips of their favourite bits of music, which I pretty much always ignore.  Often, when confronted by other people’s favourite musical snippets, I already have music playing, on my separate music box which is nothing to do with my computer and which therefore works when I most need it, which is when my computer is not working.

I tend not to do stick up bits of my favourite sort of music, which is classical.  Partly I’m lazy and am not very clever about putting up Youtube clips here.  But I could put up lots of links (one follows below) to classical stuff.  But, I tend not to.  There are enough reasons for people to strike this blog off their weekly-read list or whatever, without me putting them off even more with bits of classical music.

Now, first off, I have no problem with bloggers posting whatever they like.  Their gaff their rules.  I put whatever I like (as in like to put) here, and they can put whatever they like to put at their places.  But, am I the only one who almost always ignores music at other people’s blogs?  Most of us like lots of random bits of pop music, old and new.  In my case, there’s also a ton of classical classics I like a lot, and others also have their favourite genres that they know all about, adore some of and like a huge proportion of. 

I mention this because, entirely for my own selfish reasons, I particularly want to be able to remind myself of this clip of someone called Yulianna Avdeeva playing Chopin, particularly well to my ear.  And maybe that’s it.  Bloggers use their blogs as personal filing cabinets, just as I do.  They put up bits of music because they want always to be able to get hold of that bit quickly, and now they know they can.  The readers can just wait for the next posting, and pick up where they left off.  (That link, by the way, is to a bit of classical music at a blog that specialises in classical music.  Quite often I do play the clips she features, because her kind of music is my kind of music.  What I’m on about here is musical clips at blogs which are mostly about non-musical things.)

I think another point being made with these bits of music is the point I make with my occasional Friday cat blogging, which is that a lot of the appeal of blogging in particular and life in general is pure enjoyment.  And music, perhaps more than any other art, and especially when no words are involved or in the case of the more upbeat and silly pop tracks, is all about pure enjoyment.

By the way, when I started writing this, I thought that David Thompson also featured occasional pop snippets.  So I went looking for his latest pop snippet, but found that actually he does not do this, or not lately, hence no link to any music at his blog in the second sentence of this posting.  But I did find this talk, by Greg Lukianoff, about the growing menace of the I-Am-Offended industry on American campuses.  Quite long, but recommended.

SInce I started on this posting, Mick Hartley stuck up another pop clip.  Again, I have not listened, and probably won’t ever.

Tuesday December 10 2013

Only just discovered a new function in Expression Engine which has been staring me in the face for nearly a decade.

Instructions: If the title won’t fit in the Title field or you want to italicise some part of it use this. You will still have to put something in the Title field though. It’s an EE thing.

The italics thing is particularly useful, for book titles that I want in the title.  Wish I’d cottoned onto this a lot earlier.

Testing for real will be needed, though.  So there may be oddities.

And, it does not work.  The “Long Title” has not become a title.  The “Long Title” appears as line one of my text, in the dry run, but not in the final version.  The final version has the regular Title as its title, not the Long Title.  So, how the f*** do I get those italics working in the actual title? Time for some googling.  Bear with me.

And I am none the wiser.  Lots of information about Expression Engine.  Not the one bit I am looking for, or not that I could see.

Anyone?

Long Title (with italics)
A quota thought that (luckily for me) went nowhere
The Heron Tower restaurant
Blepharitis
Testing again
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
Outage
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
Merry Christmas
Problems here (now sorted)
I can do squares!!!
A laptop but not in my lap
Is this blog somewhat broken?
Back to the future
Summer break
If you can’t read this don’t worry
Is Timberland guilty of spam commenting me?
Yesterday and today
Service interruption
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
Back
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
Redesigned Bishop
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
Test
Baffled
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
Screen problems
On hating and not hating commenters
Customer service
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
Link
Alisher Usmanov is now better known for being nasty
Links and guns
Back from the dead and soon to be duplicated
Service interruption
Christopher Hitchens on the Rushdie knighthood
A mention of your book guaranteed!
Today I ate something that disagreed with me
Internet problems solved
Internet problems
More internet connection problems
Internet problems
John Holloway plays unaccompanied Bach on the baroque violin
At least I got today’s obligatory posting done before midnight
Firewall nonsense
Screen back
Screen out
Airship photos loading tri-incidence
Testing picture loading
Loading problems
Groan
[new addition to my blogroll]
I’m back
Blogging pause continues
29th and 14th
Blogging pause
Not much here today
Something to bore everyone
Lords pictures pending
Attacks of the mad robots and the little red crosses
Banana phone
Boo hoo
Sound files take up a lot more space than photos
Uploading problems
Hello and goodbye
Another Natalie
Grief
Thank you
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
Comments welcome
Flickr blog in and Flickrzen out
Another view of the BT Tower
Expression Engine text input weirdness
A Happy Christmas to all my readers
No comment
Why the problems?
Problems
I kept going after all!
Testing
Posting oddities
This and that at 9.07am
So that’s this done
Total Combined Page Hits?
Picture problems (again)
Wider
Housekeeping
Rules
Picture testing
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
Clickable photos
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
Photo!
I now have a blogroll
Testing how the linking works
Second post
First post