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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: Middle East and Islam

Saturday October 11 2014

Indeed.  You don’t see this kind of thing every day:

image

But I did.  Today.

As a general rule, I don’t advise combining ice cream with photography.  Do one or the other.  That is the rule I recommend.  But these guys were doing an excellent job of merging these two things, and they weren’t just eating their ice creams and doing photography.  They were photoing their ice creams.

I congratulated them for the excellence of their photographic imagination, and they were really pleased to hear this.  I asked if I could photo them.  Yes, they replied.  And when I said “photo”, I meant, as they surely understood, photo them and put pictures of them up at my blog:

image

I also took lots photos of a demo outside Parliament by Kurds, demanding help from Britain in their battles against ISIS.  Maybe (I promise nothing) I’ll put some of those snaps either here or on Samizdata, perhaps tomorrow.

Monday March 24 2014

Indeed:

image

But for where?  Would you believe, Iraq?  No?

Yes.

Built in China, apparently.

Tuesday February 25 2014

Mick Hartley’s latest little clutch of photos illustrates one of the things I particularly like about his photography, which is his relish of colour.  He even points spells this out in the title of his posting.  I have nothing against black and white photography, especially in the decades when it was that or nothing, and neither does Mick Hartley.  But there is something rather fetishistic and fake-arty about how black and white photography continues to be worshipped, long after colour photography became easy to do.

Often colour is deeply embedded in the story that the picture tells, as in this photo.  This is not one of Hartley’s own, but he constantly picks up great photos done by others on his radar (this one being number nine of these twelve):

image

No prizes for seeing why I particularly like that one.

But it’s not just the photography aspect that I like.  I also like that the anonymity angle is also covered.  I more and more tend to prefer anonymity in the pictures I take myself of other photographers, and post here.  Often it happens because the camera covers the face of the photographer I am photoing.

I went rootling through my archives for a snap of someone whose face is partially hidden, and found this snap, of which I am very proud.  Here, the anonymity job, albeit only partially, is done by a big pair of sunglasses.

I also like the colours in that photo.  Snobbery about blackness and whiteness, and especially about blackness, also extends to what colour cameras ought to be, doesn’t it?

Friday December 20 2013

I enjoyed this, which is the Daily Mash take on how cats “love any quirky and winsome humour associated with people”.

The piece concludes:

Cat Denys Finch Hatton said: “Our amusement at the eccentricities of human behaviour may be a way of switching off from our primal and sadistic natures which are obsessed by sex, killing and torture.

“Or maybe we’re just bored with our empty consumerist lives.”

To be a bit more serious, my understanding of cats is that they mostly look on us as giant domestic appliances, supplying food and warmth and strokes.  Seriously, machines that do these things seem equally attractive to them.

It’s dogs that are truly interested in people.  But dogs are goofy.

See also the Daily Mash view of the Ashes.

And, this is actually quite profound.

Monday February 11 2013

While I was on that Waterloo Station upper deck, I espied a couple of adverts next to each other, put out by this organisation.

Here they are together:

image

And here they each are separately, for you to click on to get them well and truly readable:

imageimage

Okay, I accept these challenges, and will respond.

The left hand one is a variant on the theme of “a billion people can’t be wrong”.  Yes they can.  Why has the Qur’an remained unchanged?  There are any number of reasons why that would happen, other than what they are trying to say, which is that it is all true.  Because it is an object of unthinking worship, rather than of serious study?  (Remember that the memorising of it is often done by people who have no idea what they are saying, merely reproducing sounds.) Because people have been too scared to challenge it?  Because Islam remains stuck in the seventh century, and unthinking bigotry is built into it?

Science, which the second advert seeks to argue was pre-echoed by the Qur’an, has changed over and over again.  And this is a sign of science’s intellectual seriousness and intellectual vitality.  Lack of change, century after century, signifies the opposite.

As for the claim of the Qur’an to be science before science, the real theory of the big bang is but the conceptual tip of an intellectual iceberg consisting of a ton of evidence and interpretation, and it is the latter that gives science its force. Science is not merely true.  It explains why it is true.  It argues about whether it is true.  And consequently it gets ever more true.  Islam is no truer now than it was thirteen centuries ago.

The good news here is that the claim that the Qur’an is as scientific as real science is a huge concession to the acknowledged intellectual superiority of science.  “We have been right all along, and science proves it!” But if they really thought that the Qur’an was the last word on everything, they wouldn’t be dragging science in to back the claim up.  Science would be ignored.

But they know that they cannot now ignore science.  Science is a challenge they know they have to respond to.  On account of it being so much truer and so much better at getting at more truth than the unchanging and unchangeable incantations that they are stuck with.

Tuesday December 11 2012

Incoming from Michael J:

Richard the Lionheart apparently occupied St Hilarion Castle in Northern Cyprus on his way to Jerusalem in the 12th century. Thus it is pretty clear that crusaders used these latrines. However, the castle is a couple of centuries older than this, so we must therefore wonder whether these are actual crusader latrines, or merely latrines used by crusaders.

image

“Crusader Latrines” sounds like an up-to-the-minute brand, doesn’t it?  “Middle Age Privies”, on the other hand ...

Wednesday December 05 2012

My blogging theme just now seems to be photography, face recognition, me photoing photographers, and so on and so forth.

This Samizdata posting, for instance, is about a guy using a great big iPad to photo Westminster Abbey.  Scorn was expressed by some commenters at how stupid this man was making himself look.  I disagree strongly, as did Michael Jennings.

Michael’s comment about this deserves further attention and here it is in full:

It is believed that the reason that the first generation iPad did not have cameras was because Steve Jobs believed that people using it to take photographs would look ridiculous. This received complaints, not so much for people who wanted to use it to take photographs, but for parents of small children. Point the iPad at the baby, start up a video conference with the grandparents, allow the grandparents to watch the baby, and the grandparents will be happily occupied for hours.

However, people then started using the iPad for taking photographs anyway. So, Apple gave it a decent camera. I have one myself, and I prefer taking photographs with it to taking photographs with a cellphone camera. Whether that is the quality of the camera, I am not sure. (By standards of cellphone cameras, the one in the iPad is of high quality, but most high end phones have cameras of similar quality). I think it may be the screen. Everybody who takes digital photographs knows the experience of taking what you think is a good photograph, but discovering later that it is blurry, but being unable to tell that at the time on the tiny screen on the camera. The iPad has a large, very high resolution screen, so you have a much better ability to tell at once if you have taken a good picture or not. If you haven’t, there may even be a chance to take it again.

A final good thing about the iPad is its fantastic battery life. (This isn’t hard to explain - if you look at pictures of the innards of an iPad it is almost entirely battery). At the end of a busy day, its not uncommon to find that your batteries are low or completely depleted on all your devices except the iPad. You see something that needs photographing, so you use the iPad simply because it is still going.

As for looking ridiculous, that is all about what is normal and expected. If everyone does it, it no longer looks ridiculous.

To me what is truly ridiculous is refraining from doing what works best, because you think that looks ridiculous.  It’s like that thing about being cool.  If you are trying to be cool, you are by definition failing.  If your over-riding concern is not to look ridiculous, then you are being ridiculous.

To illustrate the matter further, Michael immediately added another comment, which included this photo, also deserving of a wider audience than it may get while buried in a comment thread:

image

Underneath which Michael added:

For instance, if on a slow afternoon you unexpectedly find your self at the tomb in Jerusalem where protestants believe that Christ rose from the dead, it can be really helpful to have your iPad with you.

Indeed.

Last night, Michael and I both attended the Adam Smith Institute Christmas Party.  Here is my photo of Michael, taking a picture of me with his iPad:

image

And here is my photo of Michael’s photo of me, as instantly displayed on his iPad:

image

Michael could be sure that his photo was in focus even as he was taking it, and certainly immediately afterwards.  I could only be sure that my photo of his photo was also in focus when I got home, and actually, a great many of the other photos that I took at this shindig were not properly in focus, there being somewhat insufficient light (with what there was of it typically being ill-directed for my purposes), and people being prone to move about when they converse with one another.  Which makes Michael’s point yet again.

Friday August 24 2012

Whenever, of a Friday, I go looking for cat news, there is always plenty. 

Pride of place today goes to the news that the New York shooter loved his two cats.  But, it is now argued, by some different scientists to the scientists who argued the opposite, that he can’t have caught brain cancer from his cats, because that doesn’t happen.  Good to know.  But, you might be driven by your cats to commit suicide.  How about murder?

On the other hand, Cats that pester for food could be suffering from psychological condition.  Yes.  They’re cats.

News of a cat that is making itself useful: Cat opens new excavator plant in Texas.  That must have been something to see.  What did the cat say?  Did it just chuck a champagne bottle against the side of the excavator plant?  Is there video of this?

TWO men appeared at Hereford Magistrates Court this morning charged with robbing a man in the city while dressed as cats.

Next up, the encouraging news that M12 Cat 6A connector system delivers signal integrity up to 10Gbps.

And, in Israel, new born and very rare (apparently) sand kittens, like this one:

image

Finally, two feline related bits of compugraphics which, according to Instapundit, went viral last week, in connection with Pussy Riot and Maths (which Americans can’t spell).

image    image

I actually don’t think the one on the right is very good.  The cat connection is imposed, not explained.

Meow
I’m Charia Hebdo!
Liberty League Conference speakers
Emmanuel Todd’s latest book - in English
The politics of humour in the USA and in Britain
Fishermen photo
More redirection
Defeating Islam (2): Conversion to Christianity will trump higher birth rates in Islamic countries
Defeating Islam
St Matthew reinterpreted
Soros and his money
Links to this and that
Castro slams Israel
Making those Big Statements one slice at a time
A demonstration I could join
This is not Mohammed
Everybody draw Mohammed every day!
God is not One
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!
Awesome shot of Dubai
Quota bridge
Burj Dubai looking semi-sane
The Shard is definitely being built!
Picture of an aftershock of the credit crunch rippling around the world
Gaddafi looking rather like Alan Rickman
David Farrer photos
Tienanmen + Twitter = Teheran
Rock faces
Billion Monkeys liked photoing the nastiest poster!
Media bias as asset stripping
Big Pictures
Towers above the Dubai fog
What a lot of circles
The ideal headgear for it
Celebrating a victory
She learned to knit her before she learned to spell her
Not very ephemeral
Gives a whole new meaning to Mile High Club
Beetham Tower – and a couple of other towers
The Shard is a Middle Eastern skyscraper but in London that still counts
“At that moment I suddenly started to view Nagi as an enemy …”
Cat stuff on Tuesday?
Three … thirty six … sixty one … a hundred a forty eight …
Christopher Hitchens on the Rushdie knighthood
Richard Dawkins on the Muhammad cartoons affair
Antoine Clarke on Sarkozy
Volte-face
Islam was peaceful and tolerant until the Christians attacked it
The rights and wrongs of multiple marriage
Will twentieth century aerial warfare be repeated by toys?
“It took about a year …”
What are the world’s biggest problems?
Dissenting Muslims
And further talk at Christian Michel’s about water and power
Not everything means anything
Islam is evil - and that’s me carrying on normally
History of the Middle East as a moving map
Rubble
The West disunited versus the Pesky Muslims
The extreme memes spread by moderate Muslims
Me on 18 Doughty Street tonight
Latest Brian and Antoine mp3 - Middle East, Mexico, USA
Muslim Billion Monkey photos four Muslim ladies in black!
Lords pictures from last Monday
Something to bore everyone
Billion Monkey flash strikes twice! - 7/7 a year later - Office Space on TV even though I own it
The latest Brian and Antoine elections around the world mp3
Theodore Dalrymple is an Islamic Fundamentalist and so am I
Wafa Sultan
I won’t be doing any television myself in the near future but in the meantime have a watch of this
Fake but true?
“And also our sensitivity to our office being firebombed”
The Great Gulf War?
“The basis is economic development”
I am an atheist but I often prefer the Christians