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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: Europe

Sunday March 19 2017

It’s always sad when a bridge collapses, and there is a special poignancy about the recent collapse, in Malta, of this one:

image

That picture comes from the best report (courtesy the BBC) that I could find of this sad circumstance, the best because it had both a before and an after picture, of the bridge, and then of the same place, but without the bridge.

Malta’s famous Azure Window rock arch has collapsed into the sea after heavy storms.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said the news was “heartbreaking”.

The Azure Window rock arch didn’t collapse because the top of the arch failed.  Rather did the pillar in the sea succumb to erosion.

Here’s wishing Durdle Door, Lulworth Cove, Dorsetshire …:

image

… happiness and long life.

Thursday February 02 2017

I love signs.  So tedious to copy in writing.  So easy to photo.  And I was photoing signs yesterday, at Victoria Station.

Here are two of those signs that go well together:

imageimage

I was just about to stick these up late last night, but discovered that BMdotcom was malfunctioning.

This is not the kind of sign I love to see, when trying to add stuff to this blog, or for that matter just to look at this blog:

MySQL ERROR:

Error Number: 1194

Description: Table ‘exp_throttle’ is marked as crashed and should be repaired

Query: SELECT hits, locked_out, last_activity FROM exp_throttle WHERE ip_address= ‘91.84.14.3’

But, as you can see, it’s now sorted.  Unless you can’t see and it isn’t.

And until the next time something like this happens.  Partly because of such cock-ups, I am, thinking of doing what all other bloggers who still exist did long ago, and switching to Wordpress, which The Guru also suggested.  Comments on the wisdom of that from other gurus would be very welcome.

Meanwhile, while waiting for sanity to be reasserted here, I did a Samizdata posting, entitled Brexit has unified the Conservative Party and divided Labour.  It has.

Tuesday January 24 2017

Why did Britain (and her allies) fight WW1?  Was Britain (were they) right to fight WW1?

Recently I had an email exchange with Patrick Crozier concerning World War 1, about which he knows a great deal.

Patrick to me:

The other day you suggested I write something on why Britain fought the First World War but I can’t quite remember what precisely the question was.

I suppose what I am asking is what question would you like to see addressed?

Me to Patrick:

I suppose there are two big questions.  And quite a few smaller ones.

(1) What did the Allies think they were fighting WW1 for?  What did they think the world would turn into, that was bad, that fighting the war and winning it would prevent?

This question divides into two parts: officialdom, and public opinion.  Officialdom clearly thought WW1 worth fighting, and they at least persuaded public opinion for the duration.  Did officialdom tell the truth about its real motives?  If so, was this persuasive?  If they told a different story for public consumption, ditto?

It is my understanding that the Blackadder Version of things, that it was all a futile waste of blood and treasure and that it achieved bugger all for anyone, only caught on in Britain the thirties, when the Communists got into their public stride following the Great Crash.  Before that, British public opinion both stayed steady during the war, and afterwards was glad it had won.  So, I guess there’s also a question about whether that’s right, and about the timing of the change, if and when it happened.

(2) What do YOU think the Allies actually accomplished?  In other words, were they right to fight the war, given their objectives? And were they right, given YOUR objectives?  Did winning WW1 actually make the world, in your judgement, a less bad place than it would have been if not fought, or, if fought, lost?

I note a confusion on my part between Britain and Britain plus all its allies.  I’m not sure which I am asking about.  Britain a lot, but actually all of them.

Underneath everything is a judgement, by the protagonists and by you, about what the Kaiser’s Germany was trying to do and would have tried to do in the event of victory, whether and to what extent it could have done it, and how bad that would have been.

Rather a lot of questions, I fear.  I suggest you start by answering the one of them that you feel you now can already answer with the most confidence.

Blackadder link added.  ("The poor old ostrich died for nothing.")

Patrick to me:

Wow, that’s a lot to be getting on with and it may require some research.

I promise to try to produce a decent answer to all that. Whether I succeed or not is another matter.

Me to Patrick:

PS Would you have any objection to me putting this exchange up at my personal blog?

Patrick to me:

Not at all.

My thanks to Patrick, both for the rather flattering exchange and for the permission to recycle it here.  I do not regard Patrick as in any way obligated to me or to anyone to answer these questions, and I put them here partly for that reason.  They strike me as interesting questions, whether he answers them or not.

No doubt others have answered such questions already, over the years.  Another way of putting my questions would simply be to say: and what did these answers, over the years, consist of?

It seems to be believed by almost all Europeans now that WW1 was a disaster, that it did no good whatever.  (WW2, in contrast, was a good war.  Germany by then had gone totally bad, and WW2 put a stop to that bad Germany, albeit at further huge cost.) But what if one of the alternatives to the WW1 that actually happened might have been even worse?  What if the disaster that was WW1 did actually accomplish something quite valuable?  I’m not arguing that this is actually the case.  I don’t know, and am simply asking.

Comments about these questions, or for that matter any proper comments, would be most welcome.

Wednesday January 11 2017

This afternoon I read in the Evening Standard that Chelsea FC were hoping to get planning permission for a big new stadium, and sure enough, this evening, they got it.  I guess they’re all pretty happy there, what with Chelsea being top of the Premier League and all.  (Although, I can’t help mentioning their recent winning-streak ending loss by Spurs.)

Here’s how it is reckoned the new stadium will look (I found this picture here), from above, when it’s dark:

image

The architects are Herzog de Meuron, the same firm that did the Tate Modern Extension.  And, they also did that amazing new opera house out in the estuary in Hamburg.  And hey, that opened today, according to that report.  Blog and learn.

But back to that Chelsea stadium, what strikes me, yet again, about this major eruption of architectural modernism is that while it is very modern, it is also very carefully crafted to fit the inevitably rather oddly shaped site.  Indeed, the architects make use of this odd shape to give their stadium its rather particular, asymmetrical shape, while nevertheless contriving an exact rectangle in the middle, in the manner required by the rules of football.  Form follows site plan.  That’s the way modern architecture is now done.

(It would seem that the exact same principle applied to the new Hamburg opera house also.  It was put on top of an “historic brick base”.  A brick base, I’m guessing, which was whatever shape it was, and could not be otherwise.)

And what also strikes me, yet again, is what a total nightmare it would have been to have attempted a design like this Chelsea stadium without computers to keep track of everything and handle all those asymmetrical shapes.

(The Hamburg opera house was plagued with delays and cost overruns and defects and took a famously long time to finish.  But that’s a different story.)

Sunday November 27 2016

Or maybe it has been invented and the answer is it’s called lots of little flat screen televisions.

This thought was provoked by seeing this picture, at Mick Hartley‘s:

image

There’s nothing wrong with this Big Thing that painting it entertainingly wouldn’t put right, in fact very right indeed.  It could become a well-loved landmark, if only it was spruced up a bit, with some bright colours.  This Big Thing is called the Edificio Torres Blancas, and it is in Madrid.  In Spain they like bright colours, right?

But, what bright colours?  The answer is to copy what they now do in Trafalgar Square, with that Fourth Plinth.  In Trafalgar Square, they have solved the problem of what to put on the Fourth Plinth by keeping on changing it.  That way, everyone gets to like some of the objects they put on the Plinth, and that way everyone who dislikes what is there now can comfort themselves with the thought that it will soon be gone.  All can photo the ones they like and ignore the rest.  Eventually, a winner may be declared.  Eventually, a thing will be put there that seems to right, to so many people, that it will be decided to keep that thing there for ever.

That’s what they should do with the colouring of the above Big Thing in Madrid.

So, techies, get to work.  What we need is a new sort of paint that you just slap on, but whose colours, down to the minutest detail, can then be controlled by a big old computer at ground level.

Or, this is already possible, as the advertisers are now proving with their changeable screens, and all that it missing is that this is, for a mere building, as opposed to a commercially profitable message, for the time being, too expensive.

Also, maybe the architect is still alive and vetoing any such notions, insisting that his masterpiece remain blancas, or failing that then at least grey all over.  Time will soon correct this sorry state of affairs, if state of affairs it be.

Saturday November 26 2016

From the BBC updates on the Scotland v Georgia rugby game at Murrayfield this afternoon:

Scotland have really struggled against the Georgian scum in the second-half.

Hastily corrected to “scrum”.  Should have done a screen capture.  As it is, you just have to take my word for it.

Actually Georgia is a great place.  It recently came sixth in the world in one of those economic freedom charts, as I mentioned in passing in this posting

LATER: Oh dear.  Not Murrayfield.  Kilmarnock.  Whenever you moan about someone else’s error, you make an error.  It’s inevitable.

Thursday September 29 2016

I like this photo, of Daniel Hannan, at the top of a Guardian piece about him, and about how he was and is “The man who brought you Brexit”:

image

I like this photo because it is exactly the sort of photo that I try to take of photoers myself.  A smartphone with interesting graphics, held over the eyes of the photoer (which of course often happens) to preserve anonymity.  Or it would if there were no other photos of Hannan in the world and no article underneath the photo, telling the world all about him.

While browsing through my archives recently, I came across those pictures I took of Brexiteer Kenny, doing his rehash of a Hannan piece in Trafalgar Square, with white chalk.  And what I discovered was that, to revise that Abba song, I never thought that we could win.  The pictures brought back the feeling I had when I took them, which was: gallant failure.  Brave effort.  Well done mate, going down fighting.  But, we won’t win.

I told myself that we might win, but mostly what I thought was that although the majority for Remain had slimmed down a bit over the years, it was still there.

As for the Brexit arguments now (quick versus careful), I am reading this guy.  He is for careful.  Every post he does says (a) that he is the cleverest person in the world and that everyone else is at best not so clever, and at worst stupid stupid stupid; and (b) something worthwhile, carefully and persuasively explicated.

I never thought that we could win, but just to be clear: there’s no regret.

Thursday September 15 2016

Here.  The fourth of five postings at Samizdata today, so far.

How Brexit has unified the Conservative Party
Bridge in Germany with houses on it
On comments – and some commentary on some Brexit comments
Brexit graphics
Referendum day graphics
The Union Jack’s near death experience(s?)
Some thoughts on the Izzard effect
A good morning
Brexit - the movie - here!
Brexit Kenny photos
Incoming horizontality from Simon Gibbs
Feline Friday at Samizdata
My latest meeting went fine
Looking in at the Zaha Hadid Design Gallery in Goswell Road
Van Art
Steven Johnson on how technology (such as the Magdeburg Sphere) grows science
Brexit as a clash of pessimisms
Toegangsbeveiligingsproducten
Barcelona owl
Anti-drone drones
Cat and cubs
Bike fishing in Amsterdam
Syed Kamall MEP wins by playing five and losing five
Matt Ridley on Epicurus and Lucretius
Four towers joined together by two bridges
Ronald Harwood on Karajan
A viadukt and a tunnel
Jim Glymph gets Frank Gehry past the limits of what is buildable
Another The Wires! Building in Japan (plus more Dezeenery)
London Biggin Hill “Jet Centre”?
William Hague on the collapse of the centre left
Cranes and a bridge (but not in a good way)
Londres
How David Irving put himself on trial
Paul Johnson on Mozart and Da Ponte
Paul Johnson on what the young Mozart was up against
Strange London buses
A forgotten war
Richard J. Evans on how evidence can become more significant over time
Big cat scan
Photo-drones fighting in the Ukraine and a photo-drone above the new Apple headquarters building
Non-faceless architecture in Rome
Marginal Eurostar economics
Pictures of Guy Herbert
The “colorful and curvilinear forms” of Herr Hundertwasser
Michael Jennings at the Rose and Crown
PID at the Times
Cat photo and cat news
Football comment
Umbrellas!
Brazil 0 Germany 5 after forty minutes
GARBAGE SHED AND JUMP INTO THE SEA IS PROHIBITED
Emmanuel Todd talking in English (about how the Euro is doomed)
Bennett and Lotus on how Emmanuel Todd’s family provoked his Grand Theory of Everything
Lego bridge in Germany
Movable bridges
Michael Jennings photoes Cape Bojador
Friend on telly
Michael Jennings photos the bridges of Porto
Relocating the Porto bridge
Eurostar before St Pancras
Sperm Bike
Art gallery made of scaffolding
Craig Willy on Emmanuel Todd
Emmanuel Todd links
Pictures from Georgia and Warsaw
Michael Jennings - pictures of globalisation
Steven Pinker’s description of The Enlightenment
Michael Jennings on how the taxis at Skopje airport are an evil racket and what he did about it
Malta Day procession
Outage
More shiny new headquarters buildings
76 operas and a monument in the wrong place for Hermann the German
Friday link dump
Gormley’s South Bank Men
A Spanish geography lesson
A Spanish high speed train bridge and a Spanish aqueduct
Delayed action Dubrovnik cat
The Brusio spiral viaduct also looks like a toy train layout
303 Squadron in the movie and on the telly
Two bridges in Portugal
BrianMicklethwaitDotCom blog posting title of the day
Two real cats sighted in Spain!
My sleep and luggage and bus and fluid travel hell
In Alicante
Possible holiday interruption
How some cats are dividing Cyprus
Reds against Blues in Munich
Stepping forward into the abyss!
Luxembourg church in hill and Luxembourg footbridge
A great Johnathan Pearce Britain-can-dump-the-EU blog posting - and the value of informative titles
Polish anti-semitism - a history lesson at last night’s dinner
Making the IOC feel important with a personal lubricant
Changing faces of Europe
Daniel Hannan and the shape of the media to come
“Vivid characters, devious plotting and buckets of gore …”
Toys and big toys
Sheep under wolf’s clothing
Might Gordon Brown pull an EU referendum rabbit out of the hat?
Africa is big
Mahler’s 9th in Vienna in 1938
Photo of some foodski
Switching from dumb bombing to smart bombing
The new Lowe look
Terence Kealey on the Wright brothers and their patent battles
I predict that Germany will win
Computer blues
What I have seen so far while abroad
Nanpu Bridge in Quimper
Keyboard blues
Were any of them really that nice?
Eurovision sense from Squander Two
Wired bridges
The IPL is a new face for India but Harbhajan slapping Sreesanth is no big deal
The Messina Suspension Bridge is on again
Eusociality
Billion Monkey Alan Little?
Dominic Lawson on Herbert von Karajan
Brian Hitler!
Theodore Dalrymple on the menace of honest public officials and much else besides
Underground art
Eurostar says goodbye Waterloo hello St Pancras
On the appeal or lack of it to Young Europeans of “capitalism”
Old cranes - new cranes
Free trade explains the success of the Swedish Model
Gatito
Another link to a friend and that’s your lot today
Other people’s photos (2): New architecture in Hamburg
Geoffrey Blainey on Ivan Bloch - the man who predicted World War One
Tourists on the move
The extreme memes spread by moderate Muslims
I’m back
Antoine Clarke talks with me about votes for women (and teenagers) – and about Sweden
Brian and Antoine democracy mp3 number twelve
I also miss Transport Blog
Brian and Antoine mp3s now into double figures
The latest Brian and Antoine mp3
Election Watch podcast number three
“What on earth gives every computer owner the right to exude his opinion, unasked for?”
4th Generation Warfare in the middle of an advanced Western Country