Brian Micklethwait's Blog

In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.


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Brian Micklethwait's Education Blog

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Category archive: Business

Monday October 05 2015

Photoed by me last night, at Southwark tube station:


Next to the ticket barrier at Southwark tube there are a number of these little history lessons, of which this was my favourite.  This is the kind of thing you can usually chase up quickly on the internet, and find a fuller account of.  But, my googling abilities are such that I can find no reference to this fish-discouragement story.  Anyone?

Wednesday September 30 2015

Remember this shiny little car.  That one was advertising a golf shop.  Today, in Chelsea, I spotted another shiny little car, but this one wasn’t advertising anything.  It was just shiny:


Even more amazing, to me, was what brand of car this was.  Would you have guessed Aston Martin, if I hadn’t already told you with the title of this?  Yet, an Aston Martin it was:


And since I was basically photographing a mirror, I decided to include myself in the picture.

I now discover that this little car is just a Toyota with an Aston Martin badge on it.  You wouldn’t catch James Bond in one of these.  This being because he, in one, wouldn’t catch anyone else.

Tuesday September 29 2015

Photography is light, and in this rather odd photo the light was coming from behind the object I photoed, making it look … odd:


But there is no way to take this photo again, because just after taking the photo but before looking at the photo, I chopped the object into bits with a bread knife and stuffed the bits into a black plastic rubbish sack.  The point here being that Modern Life is all about getting rid of clutter, an in particular, packaging clutter.

Like so much packaging clutter, this piece of packaging clutter was amazingly beautiful in its making, being of a very elegant, abstract sculptural shape, and made of a sort of cross between polystyrene and sponge of the sort you wash with.  Its structural strength and its ability to look after the piece of electronics it was cushioning, on its journey from China to me, had all been perfectly calculated.  How can you just throw something like this away?  But, you must, or you will drown in such stuff.

The packaging industry has clearly been one of the great growth industries of the late twentieth century.  Remember when you used to buy sweeties or paper clips or screws from a bloke in a brown coat, who would shovel them into a brown paper bag, and decide what to charge you by weighing them with a pair of scales?  Perhaps you don’t because those days are now long gone.  Now shops selling sweeties or paper clips or screws sell them in small packages.  Nobody weighs such things in shops any more.  The little things cost about twenty times as much, per little thing.  The packaging also includes anti-theft devices.  The process of selling is speeded up.

Supermarkets still weigh certain sorts of fruit and veg, but I bet they are working flat out to get rid of the need for that, by regularising the size of individual fruits and veges, and by packaging them in ever more cunning ways, with the price already decided for each package, and with the weighing done way back in the supply chain.  (When they do, I might consider using those shopping robots in supermarkets.)

All of which involves literally tons and tons of packaging.  And a discipline of modern life is knowing that such packaging must be binned, no matter how handy you might think it might come in in the future.

Equally troubling to me is cardboard boxes.  These also have to go, and often that involves chopping them up, so that the bloody bits will fit into bins.  When I say “bloody” bits, I am not just swearing, I am describing.  Recently I cut my hand while doing this.  The cushiony thing above was, on the other hand, very easy to carve into bits, and by its nature did not threaten my hands in the process, the same cannot be said of cardboard.

The ultimate expression, so far, of the urge to package is the shipping container, which has literally transformed the economy of the entire world.  Imagine if everything you bought came inside those and you had to chop those up, until the bits fitted inside bin bags.  I would have died of self-inflicted wounds long ago.

Friday September 25 2015

Yes, because that was when I took this photo:


One of the ways I have got (I think) better as a photographer is that I have gradually identified more classes of object or circumstance to be worth photoing.

This often starts with me just photoing something, because, what the hell, I like it, or it’s fun, or it’s interesting, or it’s odd, or it’s getting more common, or nobody else is noticing it and talking about it, or whatever and I just photo it, without even telling myself why, in conscious words.

Later, often much later, the conscious, verbalised thinking starts.  Perhaps because, as in this case, someone else starts talking about it. Guido having a go at that Labour politician was what got my conscious brain into gear on the subject of White Vans.  And I then decide to get more systematic about photoing whatever it is.

Mobile Pet Foods is still going, and if that link doesn’t convince you, then note the date on the latest piece of customer feedback here.  (That this feedback may be fake doesn’t alter the fact that the dates are recent.)

There is, of course, a cat angle to this.

Tuesday September 22 2015

Time for some weird transport, here at BMdotcom.  So, google google, this kind of thing doesn’t take long.  Here are three photos of transport arrangements, all three of which make use of the tricycle principle to not keep falling over.

First, a combined bicycle and shopping trolley, which, if you think about it uses the shopping trolley not only for transportation purposes but also to turn the bicycle into a sort of tricycle, although actually it is more like a quincycle, what with this device now having four small wheels at the front:


Second, this new slant on the tricycle principle, which actually combines three cycles, the one at the back motor- and the two at the front bi-.  Magnificent, I think you will agree.


And, the third of these triple-based transport arrangements, a tractor that used to have four wheels but which has lost one, leaving only three:


Back-seat passengers are seldom all that helpful to a driver, but this one is essential.

I think that these snaps date from around 2009 (they are three of these ones), and you’ve very possibly already seen them.  But they are new to me, and me is what matters here.

This kind of nonsense is why the internet exists.  And beneath and beyond such photos is a very significant subtext, about people getting on with their lives, with determination, inventiveness, and above all without wars or catastrophes, unless one of these contrivances collapses into the road.  Before the internet, too much “world news” consisted of disasters, and of helpless and miserable people begging to be rescued from these disasters.  The begging continues, but there are now also other and more encouraging messages to enjoy.

I actually think that this change in how the world sees the rest of the world will make invasions by powerful parts of the world of less powerful parts less frequent.  Invasions won’t stop, but the desire to rescue (by invading) will be at least somewhat moderated.

Monday September 21 2015

A while back, there used to be Walkers Marmite flavoured crisps.  Then, they went away.  I mourned their passing.

Now ...:


… they’re back!  That being a celebratory photo I took earlier this evening.  Apparently I have democracy to thank.

I wonder, will there be a day when political elections include the added attraction of a prize draw, for all who vote?

I shan’t be voting for any other crisps to join Marmite crisps.  Marmite was, as far as I am concerned, the big one.  I am now happy.

I have a distinct recollection of posting a photo of Marmite flavoured crisps, here or somewhere, way back.  But when I tried to find such a posting, all I could find was a photo of some Marmite spoons.  But, by looking for crisps without mentioning Marmite, I did find a posting I did about an earlier round of Walkers crisp voting.

Wednesday September 16 2015

Now, some more pictures from that fabulous day out at the Oval, which was over a week ago now.

This time, it’s adverts.  The crowd was, as already discussed, sparse.  It was sparse because the game was played on a Monday, so that Sky could fit it into its schedule, but because Sky were present, the adverts at the ground packed an extra punch.  I assume that a cricket club like Surrey has people who obsess not so much about cricket as about money, and it must be good news on the money front that all these adverts were to be seen on Sky TV.

You see adverts in lots of the photos of and television coverage of sports events, but it isn’t much talked about.  Neither are all the empty seats that so often occur at sports events nowadays, particularly cricket matches.  But, these pictures focus attention on all the adverts I saw at that game, by cropping out everything else.

Click on these adverts, and you get the original pictures from which I extracted them, which mostly also feature a lot of empty seats:


An odd effect of what I did here with all these adverts is that the more money you spent on your advert and the bigger and wider and more noticeable your advert was, at the Oval, the thinner it now is on BMdotcom.

Life can be cruel.

Sunday September 13 2015

Excellent piece in the Daily Mash about photography and its impact, entitled Everyone sad because of photo of thing that’s been happening for months.  I only just noticed this piece, probably because it didn’t include a photograph:

It has been confirmed that everyone kind of knew the thing was happening, but now they are very sad and angry because there is a photo of it.

The thing about a photo is that a vivid photo can tell a story very quickly, this being why this particular one is getting around so much and being talked about so much.  Not necessarily a true story, not straight away, but a story.  And that’s what you want, if you are The Media.  The Media sell stories.  Truth, factual and/or moral, is nice too, but not the essence of the product.  That photos do their job well is not a “conscience” thing.  It is a speed of communication thing.  Photos communicate a lot very quickly.

The speed with which a picture tells a story is why I have so many photos here.  This is a kitten blog.  It doesn’t take itself too seriously and it doesn’t expect you to take it seriously, unless you want to.  My photos don’t consume your time, unless you want them to.  Often, I only tell my stories here at all if I have a photo.  It would take too long to explain with mere words, and anyway, what would be the point?

Headlines aren’t necessarily true either.  In fact, I would say that the biggest media lies are to be found in photos and in headlines.  Photos typically lie, when they do lie, by omission.  Headlines just lie, and you can often tell they’re lies simply be reading the story under them.

Why do headlines lie?  Because that often makes for a more appealing story.  The truth is usually more mundane.  But mundane doesn’t get you eyeballs.

On photos and headlines
A day in BMdotcom heaven (2): Surrey v Notts was played in front of a live studio audience
London Biggin Hill “Jet Centre”?
A big Black Cab advert picture for a Samizdata posting
Designing and building with glass
White van reflexology
Lady rickshaw driver
Selfie sticks on sale – and a selfie stick in use
Zorb football
Out and about with GD1 (4): On the survival of professional photography
A rather argumentative van
A new Grand Chose for Paris
The next London Big Thing
Angela’s Nails
Pancake White Van
Paul Johnson on Mozart and Da Ponte
A posh white van and a not so posh white van
Customer service
Tim Worstall on “reserves”
Snohetta does zig zag roofs for competitive cities
Another quota sign
Another use for a drone
More White Vans
A weird view of the Wheel - and cats in Tiger
White Vin Van
White Van
Peter Thiel on how humans and computers complement each other
Bizarre designer furniture in a Covent Garden window
The rise of (interest in) 3D printing
Peter Thiel on striking a balance between optimism and pessimism and on how failure is overrated
True hearts and warm hands
Drugs drones
Cats in Quimper shops
A French film poster advertising a British film
Shop window
Matt Ridley on how technology leads science and how that means that the state need not fund science
Dominic Frisby on the Hype Cycle
And now a photo-drone in a London shop window
MDL and DPD delivered what they promised but were wrong about me having to be there to sign for it
Halloween buckets
The man who photoed the CDs in Gramex this afternoon
Recently on dezeen
Boris bus malfunction
Helter Skelter scrapped
Rob took photos
Flying cars will have to be flown by robots
Chippendale without Rannie
Bill Bryson on the miracle of crop rotation
Out and about in the sunshine
Xxxx-ie outside Xxxx-ridges
PID at the Times
ASI Boat Trip 9: The man driving the boat
Bombardier Embrio
You need to have abseiled …
Cashing a cheque by photoing it
What to call the sneerquote Salesforce /sneerquote tower? (plus a quite profound tangent)
Capturing moments
Compact Cats buried under London’s poshest homes
I see cats
Me and the first cranes at London Gateway last September
Classical Amazon
A selfie taken in 1955 - another taken in 2014 - another being taken in 2014
The good done by the Apple Newton
A new Morrisons is opening in Strutton Ground next Monday
A Bitcoin vending machine and a Lego photographer (and a Lego Hawking)
I think I may at last have found myself a sofa
A quota post (with a quota link to a post about a post about a quota photo) and another quota photo
Big Things happening in the City
Selfies of me – 2001, 2007 and yesterday
Photoing the A380 from above – from the ground
I now have a new computer screen
Slightly wider tube trains
Guangbiao Chen’s incredible business card
3D printer sighted!
Tough going in Australia
Merry Christmas
Big Things and small things
La Porte des Indes
Father Christmas Aerodrome
Happiness is Gold Blend at only £3 instead of £4.50
On the insecurity of ObamaCare - and on the unwisdom of only punishing big and later
Rob Fisher on old things not looking old
A Strutton Ground shop and a Strutton Ground pub
Alex on Quentin
Halloween is near!
Amazon pricing puzzle
The Times of May 24th 1940
Bad and good in bad weather
Earn yourself fifty quid by finding me a suitable sofa
London Gateway from above
Rob Fisher on the 3D printing future
Quota photo of a bucket of plastic crocodiles in an otherwise deserted shop window in Oxford Street
The Alex Singleton blog
Spot the Samsung connection
Views from the Hackney Wick station footbridge
BMdotCOM mixed metaphor of the day
Wedding photography (5): Photography!
Wedding photography (4): Preparations
Bookshops as Amazon showrooms
Google Nexus 4 photos
Michael Jennings - pictures of globalisation
What Michael Jennings has been learning about and will be saying about globalisation
Waterloo Station’s new upper deck
Classical CDs from Gramex
At the bottom of the Shard
Looking along Victoria Street to The Wheel (and on how to be liked (or disliked) by Google)
Skull made of skulls in gift shop street
Croydon cats
An afternoon in Croydon
London reflected
Cleaning lady for hire
Michael Jennings on how the taxis at Skopje airport are an evil racket and what he did about it
Turning back the spam comment tide and allowing proper comments from way back still to be read
The Bezier Building and a hideous advertising erection at the Old Street Roundabout
“I just came across this fascinating photo …”
Talk by Frank Braun about Bitcoin at my home on Aug 3rd
Black Katz
62 Buckingham Gate
Space launch monster
Today I’m in a “How very odd!” mood
Street social services management integrated command sub-centres
The England rugby aftermath
Jarrod Kimber on biased cricket commentators
Go Gary Johnson!
The Jobs difference
David Friedman on the similarity between fractional reserve banking and insurance
Empty tables and empty chairs
Bitcoin etc.?
Misspelt (correction: Italian) signs of the times
Just Righter
Signs from the Frenchosphere
Someone doesn’t understand what I mean by roof clutter
If you can’t beat them hire them
The bike behind the theatre
Absolutely not a private navy (except that it probably is)
Noticing signs of the times
Jobs departs from Apple (again)
Mozart might have become a criminal
And then give up and stay fat
From pop to purrfume
Ashes highlights on ITV4
Those cameras are getting cheaper
Rockets are a great improvement on balloons
Beyond the Dome with Goddaughter One
Guerrilla webfare
I don’t usually approve of swear blogging but …
Happy hundredth
Andy Flower urges England fans not to punish cricket for being corrupt
Toby Baxendale on what went wrong and what to do about it
BrianMicklethwaitDotCom least obnoxious spam comment so far
At the launch of Alchemists of Loss
If they don’t want to be British Petroleum anymore they should stop calling themselves BP
Nuking the Oil Spill is probably a rather bad idea
Lucky we didn’t go to Lords
Apple passed Microsoft in market capitalisation today
Rubbish bridge in Shangai
How my camera and the internet explained an old bus
Why my libertarianism has the look and feel of socialism
You know where you are with a book - usually
Apple keyboard remains excellent – iPhone software not so excellent
Six lions on a white Mercedes bonnet
Quota cat rubber
Sounds like a brothel with film star lookalikes
Beyond iPad (and a picture that goes beyond this posting)
Does Google now rule the world of computing?
Fitness Superstore
My local Blockbuster Video just closed
Cricket talk tonight
Hasselblad hit by custom-built headquarters disease!
Three airplane photos
Short posting (with short photo) about SpaceShipTwo
The Shard is definitely being built!
Talking with Toby Baxendale
Apple mobile phones are very profitable but Nokia mobile phones are not very profitable
Under a hundred copies
Today I bought an Apple Mac keyboard …
God is killing cinemas!
Quotes dump
Pull Tab
Computer coffee table
Magic bottle that makes dirty water drinkable
Me and Michael Jennings talk tech trends
Model T parts flatvert
Laptop for emails
The latest Canon DSLR comes without a twiddly screen
Handel in London – and an angelic tenor aria
The Vita-Mix 5000 at the Veggie Show
Two Samizdata comments on the sinking of Brown and on the sinking of the Daily Telegraph
Register for your free pack and five £1-off-coupons
A photo of the Samsung NC10 and the original Asus Eee-PC next to each other
The Fixed Quantity of Advertising fallacy and the menace of targetted advertising
James Tyler’s speech at Policy Exchange
Lawrence H. White on the Scottish experience of free banking
My confusion about free banking
Toys and big toys
Kevid Dowd video now up and watchable
Work begins on the Shard of Glass
Clay Shirky on newspaper doom
MBA - necessary but insufficient
Work photos
The Shard may actually be being built
Not cricket
Google and dongle
On being sold a telly
Vote for crazy flavoured crisps!
You don’t wait for it – you go looking for it
Roll out the Lino
OLED TV - very thin and detailed but not very big and not ready yet unless you’re stupidly rich
Picture charging advice please
Happy Christmas
Is the contemporary art bubble bursting?
Big clocks
Colonial Governor’s Mansion dwarfed by modernity
Linkin Park - one leg short of libertarian
Snapped in Egham
Why Willem Buiter blogs and why I do
Lang Lang crushes Yundi Li!
It’s over
Another pendulum theory
Guido Fawkes conflates the Monetarists and the Austrians – needs to chat with Antoine Clarke
Antoine and Michael on what to do now
Tama the feline stationmaster saves the Wakayama Electric Railway Co.
Antoine Clarke on the financial turmoil and the US election
Tom Burroughes on the banking crisis
An abstract view of Kings Place
Chinese Friday?
Profundity and silliness
On classical music voice addiction
Cricket misery
A poetic Hornby
Voice of God journalism
Today I have been blogging elsewhere and also doing other things
Cisco – fuck off and die
“Better value on goods and services across a wide range of categories …”
Big Bens - Wheels - Big Ben teapots - telephone box teapots
Classic car thinness
News Media Coalition versus Indian Premier League
Travis Perkins of Pimlico Road are not good at delivering timber
Twickenham shop attacked by the Dark Side of The Force
Flat pictures for flat screens
Ed Smith on how baseball defeated cricket in America
Bookcase staircase many books electric book
Reflections in a Belgravia shop window
Customer service
Michael Jennings on telecoms at Samizdata
Moore versus Stossel on Cuban medical care
The great DVD packaging clearout
Blogging – the end of the beginning
The petty cash effect cuts in for Linux
Linux versus Windows - the bigger tiny laptop breakout
Jones the department store
The new South Bank
Democracy for sale – starting with football and beer
I love competition
A job well done
Eee PC not eeesy to get in Asia either
When the penny drops
Probably not right - but definitely written
The qualitative difference made by quantity
The A380 bulge
It’s the decline of old-school advertising that’s really hurting old-school journalism
The business of gadget blogging
“How much better …?”
Not actually all that dramatically
Michael Jennings on private law in Hollywood
Will China fail?
Smelling the smoke in the Microsoft machine
End the medical monopoly!
The cranes are migrating to China and Michael Jennings will be talking about China
Lots of links
The publicness of private life
The double thank-you moment
Pictures with words
“Information makes markets work …”
Classical under-15s
“That’s not Minnie Mouse - that’s a cat with large ears”
Old gits at the Oval – and Shane Warne
Insurance question
How to handle the complaints of your fiercest critics
Very small screen – high resolution
Plastic that conducts heat better
Comparing classical music with modern architecture
Susie Bubble turns shopping into a job with her blog
Bollocks to the fashists
iPods as the new CDs
The future of music
New York Times links - owned genes
Very very low cost kitten in space
And further talk at Christian Michel’s about water and power
Back to the future with the virtuoso violinists
Billion Monkeys and people waving blue things!
Screwed by Google – and Google screwed by the kitten-bloggers?
Happy Christmas Day
The Pirates opens in New York
Big ships
Alice in Fortnum and Mason
Adriana Media Influencer: What do you do? (the mp3s of the book)
Spreading the word for free
Geek girl I like your thinkings - are nice - I want have sex with it
Top tips from Viz
Antoine Clarke and I don’t talk about elections
Grassy car with blog
How I became a One Minute Crap Manager
Getting things read
Remembering the Alternative Bookshop experience
Blogging is filing for those who can’t
Patrick Crozier talks with me about Japan
Being real on digital
Debussy denounces Massenet but Puccini follows him
Run Germany with thirty megs
On trust and obviousness
Presumably the noise is not a problem
On style and politics
They really were excellent
On the spread of voluntariness
Holocaust museum repeated as fashion?
Blogging fun and blogging profit
Read-Write versus Read-Only