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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: Law

Thursday September 08 2016

I’ve visited the top of the Tate Modern Extension several times in recent weeks, so this story particularly entertained me:

Tate Modern visitors accused of spying on Neo Bankside residents

Here’s the story:

Residents of the Rogers Stirk Harbour-designed Neo Bankside apartments have threatened legal action, after Tate Modern opened an observation deck that provides views into their private apartments.

The 360-degree rooftop viewing deck is one of the headline features of the Switch House – the 64.5-metre-high Tate Modern gallery extension by Herzog & de Meuron, which opened to the public in June.

But residents of the adjacent apartment complex have claimed that gallery visitors are using zoom-lens cameras and binoculars to peer inside their glass-walled homes and take photographs.

Having failed to reach a solution with Tate, the homeowners are now seeking legal action to regain their privacy.

I was particularly diverted by this bit:

So far the only change has been the addition of a sign asking Tate visitors to be more considerate.

Dezeen does not show any picture of this sign, but here, I can, because I photoed it several weeks ago:

image

I remember thinking at the time that this is almost contemptuously perfunctory.  I’m not surprised that it failed to subdue the snoopers

I believe that, as London gets more and more interesting, and full of more and more intriguing Big Things, there will be more and more such viewing platforms like this one at Tate Modern.  So, this problem of what you can see from such platforms that people don’t want you to see isn’t going to go away.

And the problem gets far worse when you consider that zoom lenses are only going to get ever more powerful.  I often joke here that my camera has better eyesight than I do, and it’s true.  But pretty soon, all cameras will have better eyesight than everyone.

It could be that about half of this particular viewing platform will be shut down, in which case, I need to make sure now that I have seen everything from that part of it that I can, before this happens.

I’d prefer the other idea, which is that these people living in glass houses should have one way mirrors installed, so they can see out but the rest of us can’t see in.  But then, expect the internet to be awash with before/after photos.

Thursday September 01 2016

In this case police cyclists, photoed by me in Waterloo Road last Tuesday, after I had descended from the top of the Tate Modern Extension:

image

I am not showing you this photo for artistic impression, strictly for its content.  At the time I just thought I was photoing police on bikes, which is about as common as police on horses.  But while I took the photo, I heard a voice next to me say something like: “There go the police, ignoring the red lights.” And they were, as is evidenced by the green light telling us pedestrians that we could cross.  At the time I also thought: did I get the green light?  Yes I did.  And I don’t think that the lady on the other side of the road is that impressed either.

Also, the policeman on the right is holding a mobile phone in his right hand, which is the kind of behaviour that the police are cracking down on when anyone else does it.

A few years back, cyclists behaved like the law didn’t apply to them, which presumably it didn’t, in the sense that nobody applied it to them.  Cyclists would grab all the rights and privileges of motorists and of pedestrians, switching from one to the other whenever they felt like it, doing such things as biking past you at speed, on the pavement.  But then, in London anyway, somebody did apply the law to them.  My experience is that cyclists now behave much better than they used to.

But these police cyclists don’t seem to have got that memo.

Monday May 30 2016

As nudged by Simon Gibbs yesterday, I did indeed make my way to Trafalgar Square to check out Kenny and his Brexit chalk-proclamation.

The photos I sent to Libertarian Home yesterday evening were strictly utilitarian, to tell LH exactly what Kenny had written.  Read the entire thing there.

Here, on the other hand, are some pictures which give more of an idea of how it looked, what the atmosphere was, and what Kenny himself looks like:

imageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimage

The atmosphere was low-key, actually. There were no scenes or arguments, although I did hear the occasional “not going to read it all because it says Out”, as people walked away.  Others, however, did stop and read.  Most significant, I would guess, were those with mobile phones who were, unlike me, maybe passing it on with twenty-first century immediacy.  (I had to wait until I got home before I could send off my photos.)

I had to wait a while for Kenny to finish his efforts.  I got there before 3pm, and it wasn’t until just after 5pm that he was done.  And he started at 10am.

But it was worth the wait, and there was plenty else in Trafalgar Square to divert me, and to take photos of.  But photos like that can wait.  First things first, and that means Kenny.

Thursday May 26 2016

One of my regular automatic google-searches is “face recognition”, and just now this has been alerting me to all the various tricks that are coming on stream for making face recognition not work, by putting on make-up, or spectacles, and such like.

Here is my contribution to this discussion:

image

I know what you’re thinking.  Who might that be?

Exactly.  Although, if you’re are supercomputer, you have probably worked it out.  You have a special programme which tells you to take particular interest in any faces that are trying to not be recognised.

Most of my libertarian friends think that such tech solutions are the front line of this battle.  I have long assumed that the world is moving rapidly towards a state where the question of what is X doing at the moment is technologically answerable, and impossible to prevent being answered.  For me, among other desirable things, libertarianism is the claim that although we can see X saying or doing something we don’t approve of, we shouldn’t legally prevent him or her from doing that, unless it is really, really bad.

In a world of Total Surveillance by the Big Machine, the proliferation of stupid rules and regulations with no huge moral content becomes a problem like it never used to be.  I means rules about things like what you should eat or smoke or, now, say in conversation.  Rules like that mean that we can all now be seen and heard breaking such rules.  (Okay, maybe not now, maybe not yet, but that’s where things are headed.) And that means that anyone who wants to fuck up your life or my life (for an actual real reason that has bugger all to do with the stupid rule actually being broken) can then do it.  Worse, some legislative maniac might demand that anyone that the Big Machine sees breaking this or that rule that he personally is obsessed about, should be automatically fucked over, by the Big Machine, with no human intervention involved.  With a big long list of exceptions, like legislators.  The Big Machine can’t touch them.  Libertarianism has arisen, partly, because it has become ever more necessary to insist on certain principles, principles which were imposed upon the world in former times by sheer ignorance of what other people were getting up to.

The other thing people have to do is develop thicker skins, psychologically speaking I mean, because although legislative pressure is not now a problem for most people, social pressure can become a big problem, for example if you find yourself being mobbed on the internet for some innocuous thing you said or ate.  Just because a million idiots on the internet are screeching that you are an idiot, that doesn’t mean you are, or that if you are, it matters.  When it does matter, bosses should chill, and not fire people just because the mob is screeching.  I applaud, tentatively, the recent tendency to give social media mobsters a going-over, using the same methods on them that they have been using.  Who is this mad bitch?  What has she (it does often seem to be she) been up to lately?  What is her job?  Who is her boss?  Etc.  (In the age of cyber-bullying, I feel that I now understand witchcraft crazes better.)

Another problem is that as something easily mistaken for a state of everyone knowing everything increasingly pertains, that old illusion that everything will accordingly be centrally plannable is likely to keep rearing its very ugly head, and keep on having to be experienced as a disastrous illusion.  (More libertarianism.) The point is, everyone doesn’t know everything.  Nothing like.  We can’t.  Our heads aren’t big enough, and even if they were, knowledge is not like that.  Everyone can known anything in particular that is easy to know (like where X is just now) that they want to know and ask the Big Machine about.  That’s entirely different from actual omniscience.

Wednesday April 27 2016

I spent a lot of my blogging time today writing about a talk I attended last night, given by Tim Evans.  I did not finish what I wanted to say, but the attempt left me little time to do anything here.  So, a photo, taken by me on the way to Tim’s talk, as I emerged from Euston Station:

image

That’s part of the roof of St Pancras Station.  I like how my snap makes you see this building, if not with fresh eyes, then at least from a rather fresh angle, instead of the usual one you get, from in front.

St Pancras Station was first opened in 1868, and the contrast between how they did the tops of big buildings in those times and how the tops of similar sized buildings are done nowadays could not be more extreme.  Now, buildings of that size tend to have flat tops, and to be covered with telecommunications equipment.

Like this:

image

This being New Scotland Yard.  And a statue of a man scratching his back outside Westminster Abbey.  Well, no, but that’s what it always looks like to me.  The column of that statue can also be seen in yesterday’s numerical traffic lights snap.

London’s famed Metropolitan Police are moving out of New Scotland Yard, back to old Scotland Yard.  It will be interesting to see what happens to all that roof clutter.  Maybe nothing.

Saturday April 23 2016

Indeed.  Photoed by me next to Centre Point, this afternoon:

image

Another London facade which is nice but not totally wondrous is being carefully preserved, so that modernity can in due course be erected behind it.  This time I photoed it from behind.

I have been assuming that this is a purely aesthetic thing.  Done like this to get planning permission.  But someone (I do not recall who) recently told me that if you preserve a facade you don’t have to get planning permission for whatever you put behind it.  But, if you allow the facade to disappear, then you do have to get planning permission, even if what you subsequently do is re-erect the original facade.

Can anyone confirm or deny this?

Note that dash of Renzo Pianistic colour there.

Friday March 11 2016

Well, the New Year (even though the New Year is actually getting quite old now) Resolution here, to blog early, and sometimes even to blog often, is working well.  I haven’t delayed going to bed because of this blog for about a week, and I sense that this may even continue.

Friday is my day for cats, and now also for other creatures, and already this Friday, even though it not yet even the middle of the day, there has already been a posting here about dogs.  Republican dogs.  That posting is right below this one, but there’s the link anyway.

And here now is another creature posting, about a truly unique other creature - half cat, yes, but also half dog, half bee, half zebra, and wholly suitcase - of the sort that kids can ride, at airports, to stop them getting bored:

image

Apparently Trunki made the first of these, and then some Hong Kong guys did a cheaper knock-off, and Trunki complained.  Trunki lost.

These cases - the physical (suit)case and the legal case - illustrate the fine line that divides a design from an idea:

But five Supreme Court justices unanimously disagreed, and ruled in favour of PMS on Wednesday – stating that while it had “sympathy for Magmatic”, the “Design Right is intended to protect designs not ideas”.

It looks a lot like a design being copied to me.  Not that I mind.  And actually, I think the Hong Kong version is better, because the original can’t make up its mind whether its eyes are eyes or horns.  HK case resolves this by having eyes and horns.

PMS website: here.

Thursday February 11 2016

And I do mean eagles.  Yes, it’s more fun and games from dezeen:

London’s Metropolitan Police force is considering using trained eagles to grab drones from the sky following a rise in unmanned aircraft crime ...

Next step, the drones will start shooting at the eagles.

However:

Jemima Parry-Jones, director of the International Centre of Birds of Prey in Gloucestershire, told the BBC she thinks the idea is a “gimmick”.

Well, yes.  Some journo with nothing to write asked the Met about if they’d use eagles, and the Met said yes they’d consider it.  Which they no doubt did, for about five minutes.  I mean, if you were an eagle, would you want to fly towards a thing with propellers?  But where would fun come from if nobody could ever suggest gimmicks?

The story does throw interesting light on the fear provoked by drones, and, I think, on the reluctance of regular British people actually to want to buy these contraptions.  I noted the arrival of drones in the shops, but they have not, as it were, taken off.  Not in London anyway.  They are strictly specialist devices, to enable the controllers of large bits of land, mostly out in the countryside, to control the land better and more cheaply.

Legal eagles versus illegal drones?
Excellent headline
Steven Pinker on the (im)moral message of the Old Testament
Trois Citroens (et deux chevaux)
How David Irving put himself on trial
Credit where credit is due (in France)
When David Irving called a British Judge “Mein Fuhrer”
BMdotcom quotes of the day from Edward Snowden (and a picture of him)
Another use for a drone
Pepper-spraying drones
Aerobots
At the top of the Monument - in 2012 and in 2007
BMdotcom What if? of the day
Shelves
Christmas tree with scaffolding
Photo-drone wars to come
On the rights and wrongs of me posting bits from books (plus a bit about Rule Utilarianism)
Pictures of Guy Herbert
Skycam
The Met swoops on the Adams Family
Algernon Sidney sends for Micklethwait because Micklethwait is wise, learned, diligent, and faithful
Interesting software NewZ
Should Broad have walked?
Samir Chopra on how match fixing turns cricket into not cricket
Wedding photography (2): Signs
Big Things and small things
Camera-equipped sunglasses
Health and safety on a mountain in Borneo
Misspelt (correction: Italian) signs of the times
More signage
Noticing signs of the times
Tatchell
Guerrilla webfare
The long and short of conversation - Hitchens on YouTube
Andy Flower urges England fans not to punish cricket for being corrupt
Ten thoughts about the Pakistan cricket corruption story
Why not just sell them?
Graeme Swann on drink-driving charge after 3am dash to save kitten
A response to the cyclist menace
Three cheers for Molly Norris but also a few small grumbles
“Is this a case of us operant-conditioning them or them operant-conditioning us?”
Me taking pictures in a funny way while it’s still allowed
Was it Sweeney?  And what else were they trying to suppress?
Johanna Kaschke versus the Deluded Leftwinger
Quotes dump
The Instadaughter on the morals of actors
Why I object to Madam Scotland and why I don’t
Snapping the police
Photographers in bother
It all depends on whether there is anything worth Twittering
Photoing the Police
Edinburgh’s Billion Monkeys must be chivalrous!
How patent lawyers destroyed a mathematician
Twickenham shop attacked by the Dark Side of The Force
Michael Jennings on private law in Hollywood
Alisher Usmanov is now better known for being nasty
Links and guns
“That’s not Minnie Mouse - that’s a cat with large ears”
A double cricket surprise
Heh indeed
The rights and wrongs of multiple marriage
Zong
Leon Louw talks about the habits of highly effective countries