Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
Simon Gibbs on Wedding photography (4): Preparations
6000 on Bookshops as Amazon showrooms
Darren on Bookshops as Amazon showrooms
Michael Jennings on Wedding photography (2): Signs
MarkR on Feynman Diagrams on the Feynman van
MNB Achari on Google Nexus 4 photos
MNB Achari on The ups and downs of English
Robert Hale on Feynman Diagrams on the Feynman van
Laurence Sheldon on Bookshops as Amazon showrooms
Bryn Braughton on Bookshops as Amazon showrooms
Most recent entries
- Wedding photography (4): Preparations
- Bookshops as Amazon showrooms
- Reflections on a strange coincidence involving an Android app and a malfunctioning bus stop sign
- Feynman Diagrams on the Feynman van
- Rothko Toast
- Wedding photography (3): Technology as sculpture
- And another posting from my smartphone
- Posted from my new smartphone
- Google Nexus 4 photos
- Wedding photography (2): Signs
- Wedding photography (1): The superbness of the weather
- A Fleet Street lunch
- So painters also used to “take” pictures
- Funniest run out ever?
- Shadow photography
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Category archive: Civil liberties
That’s a camera, as well as a pair of specs.
The basic reason they won’t ban digital photography in public places is that pretty soon, they won’t be able to see it happening. (That and how such a ban would screw around with the tourist trade.)
And yes, I know, there’ll be all kinds of sneaky electronic trickery to detect photography, even when it’s invisible to the naked eye, but your basic plods, both public sector and the now equally ubiquitous private sector sort, just won’t see it happening.
Well, we’re soon going to find out.
Photoed by me this afternoon, on the outside of Tate Modern. Click to get slighly more of Tate Modern, but not very much more. It used to be a power station.
Google google. Here we go:
Leading British artists launched a campaign Wednesday calling for the release of prominent Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who was detained last month amid a major crackdown on dissent.
Damien Hirst and Indian-born Anish Kapoor were among those who joined a campaign launched by The Times newspaper demanding the release of Ai, penning messages of support which were printed on a double-page spread in the paper.
“Today The Times calls for the immediate release of the Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei,” said the paper.
“So far international calls for his release have been ignored by the Chinese authorities.”
And I don’t suppose it helps much that the Times website now hides behind a paywall.
I wonder what the Chinese Government have done to Rupert Murdoch to make him permit a campaign like this. I seem to recall him sucking up to China, so he could do telly there. Indeed. Has that deal gone sour?
Still, whatever the media machinations behind this campaign, I agree with it. Release Ai Weiwei.
A while back I did a posting here about a big sign, covered in anal-retentive, litigation-phobic instructions about health and safety.
This posting now is basically a clutch of other signage photos I took that same day, on that same expedition.
Signs are extremely communicative of the kind of times you live in, of the kind of place you were at, of the kind of event you were at, of the kind of assumptions your world is flooded with. Also, more than buildings, they change, and good photography homes in particularly on that which will not always there. Signs also tell you the dumb facts about where you were, and what you were looking at, which are easily forgotten if all you have is pictures with random number names. Signs give you google handles, the way imagery can’t, yet.
So, what I’m saying is, yes I know that most of these snaps that follow in this clutch of squares are pretty mundane, but I like them. I hope that, if you click on squares that particularly intrigue you, you will also like what you see.
First, a sign saying where I was going and roughly where I was when I took these. Like I say, some dumb facts. Apologies for the blurriness of several of the snaps that follow, especially in this first one. At the point I took this, I still thought that all I was doing with this map was taking a note for myself. I still hadn’t realised that this was a whole new category of bloggableness, or I would have taken a bit more trouble. But, it still tells the approximate story.
So now, the clutch of squares:
When will signs start appearing saying that photography in public places is forbidden? I suspect, actually: only a bit, in particular places.
One, cameras will soon be so small as to be undetectable. People can already take photos with their all purpose mobile gizmos without any security goon being any the wiser, even if standing only a few yards away. Soon, we will all be able to snap photos with the top buttons on our shirts, or from our hats.
And two, as soon as any such signs forbidding photo-ing do start to appear, in ways that are at all silly, they will be relentlessly snapped, internetted, and mocked. Hey Big Brother, do you really think that we the people will accept a world in which only you are allowed to take photos in public? In your dreams sunshine.
Comments telling me that this is already happening (preferably with links) would of course be especially welcome.
Peter Tatchell is one of the great mentches (is that spelt right?) of the libertarian movement in its broadest and most inclusive sense. He and the LA have long had a cordial if doctrinally a bit arms length relationship. The overlap on civil liberties, freedom of speech, etc., is considerable and that’s what he’s talking about now, very eloquently.
This was originally called “Tatchell photo”, and I have tried to add a picture, but that looks like it will have to wait. Maybe later.
Some very trenchant stuff at the end there about the superiority of superior cultures over inferior ones.
I’m watching a BBC Panorama documentary about the Scientology, which I recorded a fortnight ago. Scientology is an enterprise I do not admire. They are the living embodiment of the proposition that it is not only governments which destroy freedom and wellbeing. They imprison their members. The BBC is now heavily biased against them. Good for the BBC.
An MP called Charles Hendry has been mentioned, as one of their defenders (see this Private Eye report). They “do a lot of good” blah blah. He thinks Tom Cruise was “absolutely amazing” in Collateral. (Actually Tom Cruise was pretty good in Collateral, I think. He played a deeply creepy assassin, very convincingly.)
Charles Hendry is now the Coalition Government’s Minister for Climate Change. Is this a subtle ploy to discredit the whole climate change agenda? Sadly, I doubt it.
I just attached this rather eloquent comment to a Johnathan Pearce Samizdata posting about how he might emigrate out of here if Brown won the next election, Heaven help us:
I think JP is doing us a favour by talking about leaving, and would be doing us another favour if he did leave, if things got that bad.
No number tells politicians more clearly that they have to shape up and stop wrecking the place better than the number of people just buggering off. People leaving is the one number that tends to signify that things are about to get better, because it just can’t be ignored or spun. The number can be lied about, of course, but big queues to get out are hard to pass off as anything else.
It happened like this at the end of the 70s when all those movie stars upped sticks. They did us a favour too. They don’t call this “voting with your feet” for nothing.
Voice and exit.
Unless of course the Brown government builds a Berlin Wall around the country. But that would be pretty hard to miss also, if it worked. The more you have to sacrifice and risk to get out, the more dramatic it all looks, and the more obvious is the damage done by the lying bastards who did it.
And that’s the central problem now, making it clear how much damage is being done. That’s what the Brown gang are now all busy trying to conceal.
JP’s posting helps with this.
I wanted to have a diary entry, so to speak, about how I felt just now about it all. Comments at Samizdata are hard to get back to. Postings here are easier to get back to.
Other eloquent comments are rapidly accumulating.
Excuse me sir, might I ask why you are taking those pictures? I’m doing it because I like it. You like it? What kind of a reason is that? Might I enquire what your name and address is? Ah well now that’s where it gets a bit complicated. I could tell you, but then I’d be missing out on a story for my blog about you PCSOs harassing innocent photographers who are not terrorists but who are a bit weird and who know their rights because they’ve read about them on the internet. I’m not harassing you sir, just asking for your name and address. Although, if you don’t give it, I’ll get one of the proper policemen to arrest you for being weird. Yes you make a strong point. Tell you what, have a read of this (which I am actually thinking of getting printed out and taking with me in triplicate on my photographic expeditions). Etcetera, etcetera.
I feel like I’m part of an era in British social history that may soon vanish. It can’t be long before only foreigners and the government will be allowed to take snaps in Britain. So, while I still can:
That was last Saturday, I think, at Picadilly Circus, definitely. I took lots of this particular little drama. I figure, if they put on a great big show like that, I’m entitled to snap it too. I did, anyway. And if you take lots of pictures of a real photographer in action, in bad light, sooner or later your opinion about the best time to take the snap coincides exactly with his and you get what I got.
Actually, snapping other photographers in London, who are mostly foreign (although I’m guessing not this one), is easy now and is likely to stay easy for quite a while, because I look like one of them. You seldom see PCSOs asking Billion Monkey foreign tourists why they are taking photos, because if they did, it might cause an international incident and threaten the tourist trade. A few months back, I seem to recall a policeman harassing a tourist Billion Monkey, and it did cause an international incident and it did threaten the tourist trade.
Plus: Mr Clown says I’m - you have to scroll to the end - a genius. I ought not to care about such things, but I do.
I was really sorry to have missed this. Just as I was about to go there, something else came up and I made a snap (hah!) decision that I now rather regret. Yes, I definitely did want to do what I actually did, but I also wanted to be part of this:
On Saturday, Trafalgar Square saw.the I’m a photographer, not a terrorist mass turnout defend our rights to street photography and protest at the abuse of terror laws. This peaceful, jolly and snap happy event, attended by both pro and amateur photographers, and a few stray tourists, was in response to a series of high profile detentions of photographers under s44 of the terrorism act.
In fact, I feel like Tackleberry (sp?) in Police Academy, when he was banging his head against a brick wall. Why? There was (in that case) gunplay, and he missed it:
Not that I’m completely sure what I actually think about this. Yes, pretend policemen are misusing the Terrorism Act, but there is still something a bit mob-rule-like about all this. That lettering that IAPNAT uses suggests to me that although nobody actually is a terrorist, quite a few of the people involved do quite like terrorism, in a general fuck capitalism fuck civilisation sort of way. Also, as a libertarian, I favour privately owned public space, or am supposed to, and that means private owners being allowed to ban photography.
Besides which, how will they ban photography when you can fit a perfectly satisfactory Billion Monkey camera in your coat button? That means that there is a real difference of interest here between Billion Monkeys and Real Photographers. This demo was, or so it looks to me, dominated by Real Photographers, asserting their god-given right to snap away with their giant elephant penis cameras, wherever they want to. Which on balance I am in favour of also. But I’m not completely happy about this “right”.
My other doubt about all this is that, increasingly, I am coming to think of photography not as a public right that totally respectable people are totally entitled to indulge in, but as something that is by its nature a bit sneaky, even a bit pervy. That some policemen with nothing else to do will accordingly harass you from time to time is par for the course, even evidence that you are doing something right, by being a bit weird and photoing something that most people, the totally respectable and normal ones, would not photo. Which means that your photos will actually tell people things they otherwise wouldn’t be told, show them things they might otherwise miss. I remember reading about how one of those double-barrelled French photographers of the early twentieth century, of the sort that my friend Bruce the Real Photographer knows all about, got his start as a photographer snapping passing ladies from beneath the pavement. Very good shots they were too, and no doubt they are now of great interest to apparel and shoe historians, quite aside from being lots of fun. Meanwhile, respectable people, then as now, were photoing themselves in front of cathedrals, or worse, just the damn cathedrals, which are about the only things that haven’t changed between then and now, unlike just about everything else.
All of which means that my inclination is actually (somewhat) not to line up alongside a thousand other Billion Monkeys and Real Photographers to Defend My Rights, but just to sneak around snapping, and merely hope I don’t get arrested. Or beaten up. Besides which, I hate attending any demo, because attending a demo inevitably involves my actual opinions being seized by other politicos, and explained by them rather than by me.
But, I would have loved to have been there, even so. Not so much to be part of it, but - definitely - to photo it.
Johanna Kaschke versus the Deluded Leftwinger
Why I object to Madam Scotland and why I don’t
Snapping the police
Photoing the Police
The prevention threat
Edinburgh’s Billion Monkeys must be chivalrous!
Heroic Billion Monkey falsely arrested by cop whom he photoed breaking law to get to chip shop!
Even if people fake them the government still likes them
Armed is less dangerous
Chanelle and Ziggy - romance in the age of total surveillance
Alisher Usmanov is now better known for being nasty
Christopher Hitchens on the Rushdie knighthood
Will twentieth century aerial warfare be repeated by toys?
Islam is evil - and that’s me carrying on normally
Caught on camera
Unsweet birds of freedom
Watching them watching me
To be controlled in our economic pursuits means to be dot dot dot controlled in everything
The Billion Monkeys of Australia will continue to photograph oil refineries
AngloAustria joins the blogroll
Last night’s talk