Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
jazbaa on Glass Build white van
jazbaa on Strange light
Patrick Crozier on An underground history lesson
Patrick Crozier on Shiny little Aston Martin
Mike on Swarm Manned Aerial Vehicle Multirotor Super Drone
Vitrier Gujan-Mestras on Designing and building with glass
Brian Micklethwait on The wait continues
MarkR on The wait continues
Brian Micklethwait on An old American car in Tottenham Court Road
Sam Duncan on An old American car in Tottenham Court Road
Most recent entries
- Strange light
- Blokes photoing
- An underground history lesson
- England rugby and London soccer
- Here begins the Essex Way
- Glass Build white van
- BT Tower with cranes
- Shiny little Aston Martin
- On packaging – and on the need to chuck it out
- View of the footbridge - view from the footbridge
- Juliet Barker on Knights of Old: A lot of history in one paragraph
- Crane on fire
- I was photoing white vans in February 2007
- Early thoughts on the Rugby World Cup
- What’s this?
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
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Burning Our Money
Chase me ladies, I'm in the cavalry
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Communities Dominate Brands
Confused of Calcutta
Conservative Party Reptile
Counting Cats in Zanzibar
Deleted by tomorrow
Don't Hold Your Breath
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Dr Robert Lefever
Englands Freedome, Souldiers Rights
Everything I Say is Right
Fat Man on a Keyboard
Ferraris for all
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From The Barrel of a Gun
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Here Comes Everybody
Hit & Run
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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
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Nation of Shopkeepers
Never Trust a Hippy
Non Diet Weight Loss
Nurses for Reform blog
Obnoxio The Clown
On an Overgrown Path
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Oxford Libertarian Society /blog
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Setting The World To Rights
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Sky Watching My World
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Stuff White People Like
Stumbling and Mumbling
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the blog of dave cole
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we make money not art
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This and that
This light, which is in my bedroom, …:
… is behaving strangely. Strangely in a way that quite a lot of lights behave, come to think of it. But it’s still strange.
I refer to the fact that when I switch it on, it never actually comes on. I have to manhandle it, by reaching up to it with my late uncle’s cricket bat. I push it around a bit, until it comes on. Then, it stays on, until I switch it off, with the switch. When I switch it on again, again with the switch, again, it again never works, and it’s cricket bat time, again. Every time.
Just now, I switched it on, jiggled it on with the cricket bat, and then switched it off, straight away. Then switched it on again, again straight away. Nothing. Only further jiggling made it work, again.
It would seem that the mere physical position of the bulb and the socket is not the point. The point is that once a connection is made, it stays made. But once the connection is broken, it remains broken. It’s like the electricity is a radio signal that has to be tuned into. Once tuned in, it stays tuned in. To tune it in, you have to “point” it in the right direction. Merely cranking up the electricity doesn’t do it.
And like I say, I think this happens quite a lot, with quite a lot of lights. What is this about? Does anyone else have experiences like this? And whether they do or not, what causes this? Anyone?
August 15th of this year was a good photography day for me. I did particularly well on the Blokes photoing front, although I’m not sure if all the male humans here pictured are actually Blokes. Bottom Middle and Bottom Right definitely. But Top Middle and Top Right are probably what you’d call Guys. Bottom Left might well be a Gent, if we looked at his face, and the face of his lady. And as for Top Left, well, you decide.
Once again, I have confined myself to subjects whose faces are not visible. Apart from the subject Top Left. That Top Left one was taken in one of my favourite Strange London Places, which is the little market space, off to the left of the trains (as you look towards the trains) in the concourse of Charing Cross Station. From it, you can then walk along the side of the street towards the river, but at about second floor level, looking down on the street, until you arrive at the down-stream half of the new Hungerford Footbridges, which are on both sides of the old Hungerford railway bridge. It’s one of my favourite little London walks.
The two definite Blokes are both photoing Big Ben, I think. The Bloke holding a “selfie stick” is, I believe, not actually using it as a selfie stick. I’m pretty sure he is photoing what’s in front of him rather than himself. Big Ben, in other words. Could he be far-sghted?
The fountain, being photoed by a Guy, is the one outside the Royal Festival Hall. The other Guy is photoing that Citroen DS23 that has already been shown here.
The bald Gent photo is not technically very good. But he too is photoing Big Ben, as you can see on his screen, which is what makes the photo non-banal.
Nobody ever comments on my photo-collections-of-photoers postings. Which makes me suspect that I am the only one here who really likes them. But, that’s all it takes for a posting here to be a posting.
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?
England got dumped out of their own Rugby World Cup last night. Not having had any great hopes for England this time around, I was not that distraught, but I do regret this. I have nothing original to add to what all the proper commentators are saying.
That’s a photo I took earlier this evening. I find newspaper front pages to be excellent souvenirs, when I look back at them, months or years later.
I do, however, have an observation to offer about London soccer. Here is a list of the London teams (all of which I support (but Spurs the most)) in the Premier League: Arsenal, Crystal Palace, West Ham United, Tottenham Hotspur, Watford (is Watford a London club? - don’t know), Chelsea. And at the moment, that is the order in which they stand in the Premier league. 2 Arsenal, 4 Palace, 6 West Ham, 8 Spurs, 12 Watford, 16 Chelsea. Chelsea now have 8 points from 8 games.
Is this just early randomness? In two months time will Chelsea be 4th, West Ham 13th and Crystal Palace 15th (with Arsenal 2nd and Spurs 8th, as now)? Or has something actually changed? Is it like this at the beginning of every season, and does it then right itself?
After writing the above, I put that question to Patrick Crozier, and he said that Chelsea are in real trouble, on account of their Manager, Jose Mourinho, having a go at Chelsea’s medical lady, when she was just doing her job. This upset the entire team, because you are apparently not supposed to criticize “members of the team” in public, and she is a member of the team. And the entire team is now playing badly.
There is also the fact that this medical lady is prettier than Mourinho, which I am guessing is a situation he is not used to having to deal with.
We shall see. Chelsea now have a mere 10 points fewer than leaders Man City. That’s surely not much of a gap, at this point in the season. A month of good results and this gap could quickly vanish.
Here being Epping Underground Station, which is not actually underground, but you know what I mean.
As already recounted here, I was recently in Epping. But I just looked again at the photos I took that day and realised that, fascinating though the M11 is, this sign is even more interesting:
This is not really a case of “blog and learn”, but blogging did help, because as so often I was looking for something interesting to pass on. Which meant I first had to learn something more about it besides its name on a sign.
I also like the photo. Without photography I would have completely forgotten about this.
When I was at Essex University, I used to go there from London by train, or by car, or by bus. Now I learn that I could have walked, by what would presumably have mostly been a rather scenic route.
This posting combines two of my interests, white vans, and the way that glass has made buildings so much more fun:
When I took this picture, I knew a white van was involved, because there it was. But I only guessed that the glass was being used architecturally. My guess was right.
White van photoed by me today, underneath the railway out of Waterloo.
I spent my blogging time today starting two different postings, both of which got longer and longer and are still not nearly finished.
Which only left me time for a quota photo, taken in April of this year.
LATER: 6k borrows the picture (which I am very happy about) and tells us more about the BT Tower.
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.
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.
Here at BMdotcom, we like a bridge. Even if, from some angles, it does not look much like a bridge. Like a bridge that I encountered yesterday, near Epping:
Looking back through the day’s snaps, I especially enjoyed the contrast between how this bridge looked, above, as I and my walking companion were approaching it, and what we saw, only moments later, from it:
That’s the M11, snaking its way towards London, just before it arrives at its junction with the M25.
You can tell it’s London because if you look (carefully) in the top right hand corner of that picture (after you have doubled its size by clicking on it) you can just make out the tops of the Docklands towers.
How much you learn from something that you just read depends not only on what it says, but on what you knew before you read it. And for me, this short paragraph cleared up several big blurs in my knowledge of Olden Times:
The new technique of fighting which had won the battle of Hastings for the Normans was also adopted in England; instead of standing or riding and hurling the lance overarm, these new warriors, the knights, charged on horseback with the lance tucked beneath the arm, so that the weight of both horse and rider was behind the blow and the weapon was reusable. Though it required discipline and training, giving rise to the birth of tournaments and the cult of chivalry, a charge by massed ranks of knights with their lances couched in this way was irresistible. Anna Comnena, the Byzantine princess who witnessed its devastating effect during the First Crusade, claimed that it could ‘make a hole in the wall of Babylon’.
That’s from the second page (page 8) of the first chapter of Agincourt, by Juliet Barket.
That bit in school history where they explained what a knight was and what knights did and how the knights did it … well, I missed it. And ever since, everyone talking about such things has assumed that I knew it very clearly, when I didn’t. It’s so obvious. How would someone like me not know it?
Oh, I sort of knew it, from having seen a hundred films where film actors did this, in film battles and in film tournaments. But I had not realised that it was a military innovation like the phalanx or gunpowder or the tank or the airplane or the atom bomb. I had not properly realised that the essence of Knighthood was collective action rather than mere individual virtue, the point being that it was the former which required the latter. And I had not realised that it was what won the Battle of Hastings. Or, even more interestingly, I had not realised that it was what won the First Crusade. (After which, I’m guessing that the Muslims then copied it.
Medieval society did not give rise to Knights. The Knights technique of fighting gave rise to Medieval society.
I remember reading Tom Holland’s Millennium, and being presented right at the end with the result of the First Crusade, without there having been any mention (that I recall) of how a European military innovation was what won it. (That doesn’t mean Holland does not mention this, merely that I don’t remember him mentioning it.)
So, at the heart of the European years between Hastings (1066) and Agincourt (1415 (when I now suppose the Knights to have met their nemesis in the form of the next big military innovation, the Archers (hence the picture on the front of Agincourt))) was a technique of fighting. Like I say, I sort of knew this, but have never before isolated this fact in my head, as a Big Fact. Instead, I have spent my whole life being rather confused about this Big Fact, reading a thousand things where the Big Fact was assumed, but never actually explained.
Why did I not correct this confusion decades ago? Because, not knowing it properly, I had not realised what a huge confusion it was.
Not very busy day today, tidying up from my Last Friday meeting last night, but I neglected this blog, until now, at which point I am too tired to really say anything.
When in that state, I trawl through the archives, recent and not so recent. And I just found this picture, taken in 2009:
What (I think) separates this from your average cheesy London sunset photo is the way that what’s left of the sunshine picks out one of the cranes, the one in the middle, just to the right of St Paul’s as we look. That’s in the middle suggests to me that photoing this crane was not accidental on my part. I was aiming at it.
I often see effects like this, when the sun sets fire to something, so to speak. (Apologies if you read this far hoping that a crane would be on fire literally.) I usually photograph such brightly lit things whenever I see them, but my camera, on its automatic setting, usually then deliberately removes the fire from the picture. It wants nothing extreme. But extreme is what I want, when I do this.
But this picture left the fire at the top of that crane in.
The cloud behind the crane helps.
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.
The platinum blonde woman who sings the introductory song sounds very unmusical and strangulated to me. When she sings “A new age has begun”, it sounds like “Anewwayjazzbeegun”, with no breaks between words at all. Very peculiar. I now learn that I am not the only one to be unhappy about this singing.
My first observation of the actual rugby: lots of handling errors. My impression is that the balls are bigger, fatter, lighter, bouncier, a bit like balloons. So, when they hit your chest they don’t just stick there, they bounce off your chest and you’ve dropped it.
How good were Japan? Yes, very good. But. But. How bad were South Africa? Very, very bad. There is a back story there, which the television commentators I am hearing seem extremely anxious not to discuss. It’s all: the mighty Boks. Apparently, they haven’t persuaded enough black men to play rugby, and racial quotas are deranging and demoralising them. “Political football” etc. Lawrence Dallaglio mentioned this stuff once, in passing, speaking of them “falling off tackles” (I think that was the phrase). Of not really trying, in other words. Other than that, nothing. Japan got totally stuffed by Scotland yesterday, 45-10. Okay, the Japanese hadn’t had much of a rest. But even so, a bizarre result, unless Japan beating South Africa was at least as much because South Africa were bad as because Japan were good. Scotland v South Africa might be … very interesting.
I really like London’s new Olympic Stadium. Whenever I saw it before, it contained the 2012 Olympics, and I hate the Olympics so much that I couldn’t see how very nice the stadium is. Now I can see this. I think I now prefer the inside of the Olympic Stadium to the inside of New Wembley. The only interesting thing about New Wemley is the big arch, seen from the outside. That’s terrific. One of London’s great new landmarks. But the inside of New Wembley, which I have actually visited in person, is very dreary. But maybe I was just in a bad mood, on account of it being football, and on account of this idiot jumping about in front of me whenever anything faintly interesting happened, so I had to either get up off my seat to see anything, or remain seated and in ignorance.
England look okay to me, but okay presumably won’t be enough to win. But then again, most other teams seem only okay also. Except the All Blacks of course. How will they contrive to lose this tournament, I wonder? They usually seem to find a way. Last time around, they did win, but only by one point.
I’m referring to this:
Click on it to see.
The orange and black bit spoils it rather, and if you only see the top half on your screen, that makes it easier. But I still think it’s fun. It’s dancing, and it has a very big left foot.
Taken in 2007, but some things really don’t change from decade to decade, or even from century to century.