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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: Russia

Wednesday February 19 2014

There are some spectacular pictures now up at English Russia, taken from the air over the Russian Far East, i.e. Vladivostock and surrounding parts.

Here is a good one (scroll down at page 3 of the posting):

image

What’s good about that is that it shows how roads stop fires.  On the right, fire!  On the left, the other side of the road, no fire.

Other pictures in the set include several of two rather spectacular bridges in Vladivostock, of which this snap is my favourite (scroll down at page 2):

image

That is the bridge over the Golden Horn Bay.  The other and bigger Vladivostock bridge joins Vladivoskock to Russkiy Island.  See this Guardian reportThis map, if you reduce its size and go north a bit, shows where both the bridges are.

Sunday February 16 2014

Tonight on BBC4 they just showed a programme about Carl Faberge, blingster to the Czars.

image

I learned a lot.  Next up, a show done by Jonathan Meades, about Brutalist architecture.  He’s for it.

This seems an appropriate juxtaposition, and I am recording both.  The insanely ornate and extravagant trinkets unleashed by Faberge, and all the other riche and nouveau riche junk that flooded into the world in and around 1900, had a direct cause-and-effect relationship with the anti-ornamental puritanism of architectural brutalism.  Many, including me, some of the time, react to Faberge eggs not just with indifference but with aggressive hatred.

I also beheld Brutalist architecture for most of the last half century with even greater loathing.  This loathing is only now abating, as the buildings themselves start to diminish in number.

image

That building used to adorn the roundabout on the other side of the river from Parliament.  It is now no more.  I photographed it.  Then, I photographed its demolition.  I did not mourn its passing.

Meades is now, as promised, rhapsodising about Brutalism.  Why, he asks, does architecture have to be nice?  He is likening it to Victorian architectural oddities of earlier times.

What he misses, or is missing so far, is that Brutalism’s aesthetic aggression went hand in hand with huge collectivist power grabs.  Brutalism was the architectural face of state centralism.  For me, Meades makes a big distinction between “Brutalism” and regular modern.  I don’t really see this.  Both went hand in hand, I’d say.

Meades’ injunction that people should not hate Brutalism is rather like expecting conquered Europeans not to be such philistines about the obviously beautiful design of Junkers 87s or Tiger Tanks.  Ah, correction.  Now he is acknowledging quite explicitly the roots of Brutalism in second world war concrete bunkers, most notably those constructed by the Nazis.  “Forget” that the Nazis built these things, says Meades.  But I suspect that the Brutalists actually liked the very quality that made the Nazis do this kind of thing.  Nazis conquered twee old Europe.  Brutalism assaulted the twee architecture of post-war Europe, the Europe that is still awash with Fabergerie.  There is a deep affinity here.

The show is still going as I post this, and is in any case only part one of two.  This was live blogging.

Monday February 03 2014

Here are an extraordinarily large number of photos of the Airbus A380, showing off at a Russian air show.

Here is one of my favourites, in the photoing-planes-from-above-and-yet-also-from-the-ground genre, that the A380 so likes to encourage, when showing off at air shows, the point being that for such a big airplane, this is a bit surprising:

image

I could be wrong, but somehow I don’t think a slogan like that – “Own the sky” - would be used in the primmer, prissier West, now so much more environmentally hesitant about jet airplanes.  Not environmentally hesitant enough to actually stop flying them and flying in them, you understand, but environmentally hesitant enough for everyone to pretend they feel bad about it.

I got a very similar shot of the A380 when it performed the same kind of dance routine at Farnborough, in the summer of 2010:

image

No mention of anyone owning the sky then, there.

Another difference you can see there - see planely, you might say - is the difference a better camera makes.  Happily my 2010 camera is not the one I use now, which is rather better.

Wednesday January 08 2014

I just watched a tv show about hydrogen bombs.  One of the things I never, until now, got around to finding out about was how hydrogen bombs work.  What I had not realised was that hydrogen bombs include atom bombs inside them, to trigger the “hydrogen” bit.

Basically, they sick a stash of other stuff next to an atom bomb.  When the atom bomb goes off, it turns the other stuff into an explosion that is even more spectacular than the original atom bomb explosion.  I did not know this.  Now I do.  Tremble, world.  Well no, I still couldn’t make a hydrogen bomb.  But I now understand a bit better how others make them.

The funniest moment was when a bloke said that there comes a time when shoving more and more stuff next to the atom bomb to make a bigger and bigger hydrogen bomb stops being worth doing, because the blast is just so huge it disappears out of the earth’s atmosphere.  This means, he said, that a bomb this big, when compared to a slightly smaller one, “does no good”.

You can just hear those bomber pilots, setting out for Dresden in 1945, saying: “Come on guys, let’s go do some more good.”

Tuesday November 26 2013

My attention has been drawn to some excellent photos by Michal Nuniewicz.

I, of course, particularly like this one:

image

That being a horizontal slice (I like horizontal slicing) of this one.

A classic, in the genre recently referred to here.

Sub-genre: group selfie.  An important sub-classification, I think.

Friday February 08 2013

And the first thing I photoed yesterday was newspaper headlines, about Britain’s Envy-of-the-World NHS.  Those first three were literally the first three snaps I took yesterday, and the last one was photoed later, at London Bridge Station, more about which later, I hope.

Read, and be amazed:

imageimageimageimage

I honestly cannot remember a day when Britain’s NHS has ever, ever had a worsE press than it had yesterday.  (The same stories had been all over the telly on Wednesday evening also.)

I hope to write at greater length at Samizdata about these dramas, connecting it to my Alpha Graphs stuff, but promise nothing

The basic idea being that a nationalised industry collapses not when it merely starts deteriorating, but only when it is deteriorating so fast that a switch to the free market, although horrible, would be no worse even in the short run.  And of course massively better in the long run.  But it’s the short run that matters because it is during that short run that you or your elderly loved one dies, through being left out in a corridor or some such horror.

Libertarians are prone to assume that things like the NHS are untouchable, merely because people continue to swear by them when they are getting only somewhat worse.  Brainwashed fools!  They will never see sense!  But they are seeing sense.  And then suddenly, to the amazement of libertarians, they do suddenly see sense.  Actually, just a bit more sense, along with the sense they had already been seeing.

See also: collapse of the USSR.

The NHS has a bit of a way to go before it folds, because people are still at the stage, as you can tell from these headlines, of thinking that sacking the Boss and installing a New Boss would turn things around.  But, any year now ...

When you want to write a big old piece about Something Important, it’s not a bad idea for a blogger to rip out a little piece about it in the meantime, in a single figure number of minutes.  That at least gets the meme out there and gives it a chance to propagate, even if a bigger piece at Samizdata would do that better.

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.

Tuesday March 29 2011

Here’s another of those horizontal slices I like to do.  It’s from one of these photos:

image

Which was one of the things linked to in the latest of David Thompson’s Friday ephemera.

See also these awesome frogs, which really are awesome.  The harlequin tree frog, which looks like some kind of liquorice based sweet, has a mouth whose inside is blue.  Frog number 6, not named for some reason, is entirely blue, but that looks comparatively normal.

The reed frog, on the other hand, in its extreme decorative implausibility, reminds me of this hippo.

Kyrgyzstan cemetery and awesome frogs
Soviet health and safety posters
Let us now trash infamous men
Cool sculpture
Digger and chain
James Waterton on a very smart very dumb Russian
Soviet space leftovers
The cats from out of town that cleared out the rats during the siege of Leningrad
Unravelling the puzzle – and making it into a movie
David Farrer photos
Hotelicopter
They aren’t complete idiots all the time
“Who are you going to sell it to if we don’t buy it?”
Clang
Non-bio oil
I’d be cheering
Outstanding and numerous aerial photos of St Petersburg
Sounding like a different country
Celebrating a victory
Meltdown in Russia … and New Zealand
Winter wonderland
Russian weirdness for the Anglos
Friends of Slava
Slava dies
Billion Monkeys photo their own demo!
Amazing map of amazing new Moscow bridge
Shame you can’t do this kind of thing here
New Moscow road bridge
Other people’s photos (4): Kitten on man’s head