Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
Brian Micklethwait on New York construction cranes in action
Andrew Duffin on New York construction cranes in action
Friday Night SMoke on English is weird
Scott Morter on 55 Broadway
Ben on Incoming imagery from Antoine
Brian Micklethwait on Face recognition – face disguise – the age of pseudo-omniscience
Brian Micklethwait on The new US Embassy – from my roof
Brian Micklethwait on New Thin Things in New York (but not in Lower Manhattan)
Michael Jennings on The new US Embassy – from my roof
Alastair on New Thin Things in New York (but not in Lower Manhattan)
Most recent entries
- Brilliant Brian’s Last Friday talk
- Referendum day graphics
- Big Things and viewing galleries in the Square Mile
- Why I like Cricinfo
- English is weird
- The Union Jack’s near death experience(s?)
- New York construction cranes in action
- Some thoughts on the Izzard effect
- Lioness eats camera
- An MP murdered
- A great new bridge in Iran
- Lions - Bears - Blackhawks
- An electric car recharging itself in The Cut
- WWWhite Van
- A good morning
Other Blogs I write for
6000 Miles from Civilisation
A Decent Muesli
Adventures in Capitalism
Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise
Another Food Blog
Antoine Clarke's Election Watch
Armed and Dangerous
Art Of The State Blog
Boatang & Demetriou
Burning Our Money
Chase me ladies, I'm in the cavalry
China Law Blog
Civilian Gun Self-Defense Blog
Coffee & Complexity
Communities Dominate Brands
Confused of Calcutta
Conservative Party Reptile
Counting Cats in Zanzibar
Deleted by tomorrow
Don't Hold Your Breath
Douglas Carswell Blog
Dr Robert Lefever
Englands Freedome, Souldiers Rights
Everything I Say is Right
Fat Man on a Keyboard
Ferraris for all
Freedom and Whisky
From The Barrel of a Gun
Gates of Vienna
Global Warming Politics
Greg Mankiw's Blog
Guido Fawkes' blog
Here Comes Everybody
Hit & Run
House of Dumb
Iain Dale's Diary
Jeffrey Archer's Official Blog
Jessica Duchen's classical music blog
Laissez Faire Books
Last of the Few
Libertarian Alliance: Blog
Liberty Dad - a World Without Dictators
Lib on the United Kingdom
Little Man, What Now?
Loic Le Meur Blog
L'Ombre de l'Olivier
London Daily Photo
Metamagician and the Hellfire Club
Michael J. Totten's Middle East Journal
More Than Mind Games
Mutualist Blog: Free Market Anti-Capitalism
My Boyfriend Is A Twat
My Other Stuff
Nation of Shopkeepers
Never Trust a Hippy
Non Diet Weight Loss
Nurses for Reform blog
Obnoxio The Clown
On an Overgrown Path
One Man & His Blog
Owlthoughts of a peripatetic pedant
Oxford Libertarian Society /blog
Patri's Peripatetic Peregrinations
Police Inspector Blog
Private Sector Development blog
Remember I'm the Bloody Architect
Setting The World To Rights
SimonHewittJones.com The Violin Blog
Sky Watching My World
Social Affairs Unit
Squander Two Blog
Stuff White People Like
Stumbling and Mumbling
Technology Liberation Front
The Adam Smith Institute Blog
The Becker-Posner Blog
The Belgravia Dispatch
The Belmont Club
The Big Blog Company
The Big Picture
the blog of dave cole
The Corridor of Uncertainty (a Cricket blog)
The Daily Ablution
The Devil's Advocate
The Devil's Kitchen
The Dissident Frogman
The Distributed Republic
The Early Days of a Better Nation
The Examined Life
The Fly Bottle
The Freeway to Serfdom
The Future of Music
The Happiness Project
The Jarndyce Blog
The London Fog
The Long Tail
The Lumber Room
The Online Photographer
The Only Winning Move
The Policeman's Blog
The Road to Surfdom
The Wedding Photography Blog
The Welfare State We're In
UK Commentators - Laban Tall's Blog
UK Libertarian Party
Violins and Starships
we make money not art
What Do I Know?
What's Up With That?
Where the grass is greener
White Sun of the Desert
Why Evolution Is True
Your Freedom and Ours
Arts & Letters Daily
Bjørn Stærk's homepage
Butterflies and Wheels
Dark Roasted Blend
Digital Photography Review
Ghana Centre for Democratic Reform
Global Warming and the Climate
History According to Bob
Institut économique Molinari
Institute of Economic Affairs
Ludwig von Mises Institute
Oxford Libertarian Society
The Christopher Hitchens Web
The Space Review
The TaxPayers' Alliance
This is Local London
UK Libertarian Party
Victor Davis Hanson
WSJ.com Opinion Journal
Bits from books
Bloggers and blogging
Brian Micklethwait podcasts
Cats and kittens
Food and drink
How the mind works
Media and journalism
Middle East and Islam
My blog ruins
Signs and notices
The Micklethwait Clock
This and that
Category archive: Space
Yesterday evening, just as the place was closing, I spotted (and took bad photos of) a promising sofa, hiding in among lots of other clutter in something called the Futon Centre, in Tottenham Court Road:
Staff were trickling out the side door, even as I was seeing this for the first time. Can I take a closer look, just for a second? Yes, just a quick one, they said. But, look on the website, they said.
So I did, and this is what I found:
Three hundred and fifty quid. As you can see there is a choice of colours. If on closer inspection (tomorrow?) I find that I like it, and that it is not too deep front-to-back, I am in the mood to take the hit. After all, a sofa is for life, not just for the next few weeks, and I think I do like it already. Deep it may be, deeper than I would like. But almost all of the other sofas I’ve looked at are hideous monster sofas with arms on them like the arms of a person starring in a television show called Embarrassing Arms. I already have a monster armed sofa like this and could not bear another. Those arms are two extra people.
The question is: Can I get it up my stairs? Because of Health and Safety the people who deliver it won’t do that. How the hell does that make the world any safer?
Wish me luck. If this suits, then I will win that fifty quid, in the limited sense of not having to give it to anyone else.
First, the current BrianMicklethwaitDotCom endorsee for American President, Gary Johnson, being interviewed by PJTV, which you can view here.
Johnson is older, thinner, duller, better dressed, more evasive, more “political” than I expected him to be, based on this. In short, not what I expect a Gary to be. I guess American Garies are not like our Garies. Plus, he is a real politician, having been a real governor of a real state. But then, I don’t expect a Gary to be a real politician.
He goes on about drugs being a medical condition, rather than a choice about how to have fun which is what I think it is, a choice which may have consequences, but not criminal-law consequences unless (under the influence of drugs) you commit an actual crime, besides the non-crime of using drugs I mean. Talking about drugs as a healthcare problem legitimises all kinds of interventions and general bossing around. But still, whatever his spiel, he wants to move things in the right direction.
Does Gary J have any chance? This guy says he is better than Ron Paul.
Next up, a wondrously biased attack on the idea of internet neutrality, from someone called Crowder, viewable here.
Finally, rocket scientist Jeff Greason, expressing optimism about space exploration, despite and because of having become totally disillusioned with NASA.
About a fortnight ago, I was so impressed by this that I started writing down what Greason was saying, with a view to quoting it on Samizdata. But I never wanted to stop quoting, and gave up when something else intervened and I never got back to it. Does anyone know if the words of this performance have already been written down, to save me the bother of doing it?
So I went looking for flat photos of the latest Branson spaceship escapade, reported on, among many other spots, here. This will do:
As will this:
I found those here.
Do you remember when Branson was pratting about in balloons? Trying to break one of those fatuous, made up just to get into the Guinness Book of Records, records, for pratting round the world in a balloon faster than the previous prat in another balloon? When he was doing all that, I was ready to believe the worst that lefty book writers were writing about him. It was all stolen, he rips everybody off, he’s actually poor, his empire is balanced on nothing and will crash, blah blah. But now, all that could still be entirely true but I do not care, because whereas balloons were stupid, rockets are cool. More the point, rockets are great.
It’s the difference between pseudo-adventure and the real thing, between doing something pointlessly dangerous, and getting seriously and helpfully involved in something that is just as dangerous but which is truly going somewhere and truly achieving something.
I can’t believe I’m the only one who thinks like this about this extreme contrast. To put it another way, I think that Branson’s ballooning did nothing for the Virgin brand and maybe a minus quantity, but that these rockets are already paying for themselves many times over.
I can remember having libertarian conversations about space travel, back in the eighties and seventies. We used to fantasise about how space travel ought to be paid for, as opposed to how it was paid for (and still is mostly). And what we fantasised was: this.
Photoed by me at Farnborough, minutes after photoing this cat:
I particularly like the shovel in the bumper. See the picture on the left.
Actually it all makes sense, despite my immediate objections on the day. Supacat is the brand of the vehicle I photoed. The Bloodhound is one of those spaceships with wheels that people drive across dried out lakes in America, trying to break the world land speed record. And Falcon is the name of the company that makes the rockets for the spaceship with wheels. The Supacat carries the Falcons for the Bloodhound, which is why it calls itself the Bloodhound quiver. Clear? I think so.
I’m still confused, however, about whether the “Falcon Project” linked to there is anything to do with this. I believe they’re two separate enterprises, but comments agreeing with that or disagreeing with that would be very welcome.
The blog posting (linked to from here) is entitled Exploitation Movie Posters 1939 - 1960. But why exactly are these movies referred to as “Exploitation” movies? Who is being exploited? And in what way is Apocalypse Now any less exploitative than the movies advertised in these particular posters?
I suppose the notion being got at is that it is our desire for pure and utterly undiluted entertainment, with no morally lofty excuse attached, to do with being educated, uplifted, improved, that is being “exploited”. Our baser instincts are being played to. Our ids are being massaged, while our egos look down, aghast.
Being a libertarian, I am particularly wary of the word “exploitation”, blurring as it does, often deliberately, the boundary between being used in a way that you consent to (often enthusiastically) and being used (often outrageously) in a way that you do not consent to. Dare to favour the first and you get accused of favouring the second. Which is a difficult trick to combat if you don’t realise what the trick is.
Putting the point about ids and egos in the language of consent, to talk of “exploitation” movies is to suggest that while our base appetites “consent” to watch movies like these, we ourselves do not. We are at the mercy of our appetites, who are co-opted by our “exploiters”. Our appetites betray us, enslave us even. But controlling our base appetites, if that’s what we decide they are, is for us to do for ourselves.
Personally I don’t think that there is anything wrong about enjoying Cat-Women of the Moon.
Incoming from Michael J:
Indeed. Follow the link and gaze upon some truly excellent photos of world class USSR cranage and clutter, in a state of advance decay:
Not being a reader of Russian, I was only semi-sure what this stuff once was. Pictures like this settled the matter:
Although that piece of decay seems to have been given a facelift. It reminds me of how they make dead bodies look their best for funerals, but don’t actually fool anyone.
Almost the ultimate vertically thin picture - five hundred across, just seven from top to bottom:
First, the moment the much delayed Boeing 787 Dreamliner lifted off for the very first time. Note the red helicopter flying alongside photo-ing everything:
Clearly that photo is also an obvious candidate for cropping above and below, to make this blog posting shorter, but I include everything in Dale’s original shot, because all that darkness is essential to the total effect, as Dale himself makes clear:
It came from out of the dark of a Western night ... the first commercial Space Ship. Am I really here? Is it really here?
Far out man.
My thanks to Dale for emailing me a bigger version of this photo than the one at Samizdata However, I think the shot works best when still rather small. The plane itself, in this shot, is small and distant, like a magical jewel. Blowing it up in all its over-lit bigness adds little.
Finally, another highly evocative airplane shot, this time of Air Force One, just after landing in Washington, President Obama having just returned from the Copenhagen Conference.
Richard North featured this photo on his blog on Saturday. North knows and I know and you surely know: climate isn’t weather. But since the AGW mob blame every slightest blip in the weather on AGW (put it like this: I hear no denials from that quarter when this is done by, e.g., the BBC), they deserve the same treatment back at them, now that they are on the back foot in this huge argument.
So, two photos of morally excellent capitalist ambition. And one of a morally very dubious attempt to curb and shackle such ambitions. The first two seem to be succeeding, albeit with much difficulty, as you would expect. The third project? Everything still to play for there, but here’s hoping that fails.
Back lit by the sun
“This is fun!”
Very very low cost kitten in space