Brian Micklethwait's Blog

In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

Home

www.google.co.uk


Recent Comments


Monthly Archives


Most recent entries


Search


Advanced Search


Other Blogs I write for

Brian Micklethwait's Education Blog

CNE Competition
CNE Intellectual Property
Samizdata
Transport Blog


Blogroll

2 Blowhards
6000 Miles from Civilisation
A Decent Muesli
Adloyada
Adventures in Capitalism
Alan Little
Albion's Seedling
Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise
Alex Singleton
AngloAustria
Another Food Blog
Antoine Clarke
Antoine Clarke's Election Watch
Armed and Dangerous
Art Of The State Blog
Biased BBC
Bishop Hill
BLDG BLOG
Bloggers Blog
Blognor Regis
Blowing Smoke
Boatang & Demetriou
Boing Boing
Boris Johnson
Brazen Careerist
Bryan Appleyard
Burning Our Money
Cafe Hayek
Cato@Liberty
Charlie's Diary
Chase me ladies, I'm in the cavalry
Chicago Boyz
China Law Blog
Cicero's Songs
City Comforts
Civilian Gun Self-Defense Blog
Clay Shirky
Climate Resistance
Climate Skeptic
Coffee & Complexity
Coffee House
Communities Dominate Brands
Confused of Calcutta
Conservative Party Reptile
Contra Niche
Contrary Brin
Counting Cats in Zanzibar
Скрипучая беседка
CrozierVision
Dave Barry
Davids Medienkritik
David Thompson
Deleted by tomorrow
deputydog
diamond geezer
Dilbert.Blog
Dizzy Thinks
Dodgeblogium
Don't Hold Your Breath
Douglas Carswell Blog
dropsafe
Dr Robert Lefever
Dr. Weevil
ecomyths
engadget
Englands Freedome, Souldiers Rights
English Cut
English Russia
EU Referendum
Ezra Levant
Everything I Say is Right
Fat Man on a Keyboard
Ferraris for all
Flickr blog
Freeborn John
Freedom and Whisky
From The Barrel of a Gun
ft.com/maverecon
Fugitive Ink
Future Perfect
FuturePundit
Gaping Void
Garnerblog
Gates of Vienna
Gizmodo
Global Warming Politics
Greg Mankiw's Blog
Guido Fawkes' blog
HE&OS
Here Comes Everybody
Hit & Run
House of Dumb
Iain Dale's Diary
Ideas
Idiot Toys
IMAO
Indexed
India Uncut
Instapundit
Intermezzo
Jackie Danicki
James Delingpole
James Fallows
Jeffrey Archer's Official Blog
Jessica Duchen's classical music blog
Jihad Watch
Joanne Jacobs
Johan Norberg
John Redwood
Jonathan's Photoblog
Kristine Lowe
Laissez Faire Books
Languagehat
Last of the Few
Lessig Blog
Libertarian Alliance: Blog
Liberty Alone
Liberty Dad - a World Without Dictators
Lib on the United Kingdom
Little Man, What Now?
listen missy
Loic Le Meur Blog
L'Ombre de l'Olivier
London Daily Photo
Londonist
Mad Housewife
Mangan's Miscellany
Marginal Revolution
Mark Wadsworth
Media Influencer
Melanie Phillips
Metamagician and the Hellfire Club
Michael Jennings
Michael J. Totten's Middle East Journal
Mick Hartley
More Than Mind Games
mr eugenides
Mutualist Blog: Free Market Anti-Capitalism
My Boyfriend Is A Twat
My Other Stuff
Natalie Solent
Nation of Shopkeepers
Neatorama
neo-neocon
Never Trust a Hippy
NO2ID NewsBlog
Non Diet Weight Loss
Normblog
Nurses for Reform blog
Obnoxio The Clown
Oddity Central
Oliver Kamm
On an Overgrown Path
One Man & His Blog
Owlthoughts of a peripatetic pedant
Oxford Libertarian Society /blog
Patri's Peripatetic Peregrinations
phosita
Picking Losers
Pigeon Blog
Police Inspector Blog
PooterGeek
Power Line
Private Sector Development blog
Public Interest.co.uk
Publius Pundit
Quotulatiousness
Rachel Lucas
RealClimate
Remember I'm the Bloody Architect
Rob's Blog
Sandow
Scrappleface
Setting The World To Rights
Shane Greer
Shanghaiist
SimonHewittJones.com The Violin Blog
Sinclair's Musings
Slipped Disc
Sky Watching My World
Social Affairs Unit
Squander Two Blog
Stephen Fry
Stuff White People Like
Stumbling and Mumbling
Style Bubble
Sunset Gun
Survival Arts
Susan Hill
Teblog
Techdirt
Technology Liberation Front
The Adam Smith Institute Blog
The Agitator
The AntRant
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 Croydonian
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 Filter^
The Fly Bottle
The Freeway to Serfdom
The Future of Music
The Futurist
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 Sharpener
The Speculist
The Surfer
The Wedding Photography Blog
The Welfare State We're In
things magazine
TigerHawk
Tim Blair
Tim Harford
Tim Worstall
tomgpalmer.com
tompeters!
Transterrestrial Musings
UK Commentators - Laban Tall's Blog
UK Libertarian Party
Unqualified Offerings
Violins and Starships
Virginia Postrel
Vodkapundit
WebUrbanist
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


Websites


Mainstream Media

BBC
Guardian
Economist
Independent
MSNBC
Telegraph
The Sun
This is London
Times


Syndicate

RSS 1.0
RSS 2.0
Atom
Feedburner
Podcasts


Categories

Advertising
Africa
Anglosphere
Architecture
Art
Asia
Atheism
Australasia
Billion Monkeys
Bits from books
Bloggers and blogging
Books
Brian Micklethwait podcasts
Brians
Bridges
Business
Career counselling
Cartoons
Cats and kittens
China
Civil liberties
Classical music
Comedy
Comments
Computer graphics
Cranes
Crime
Current events
Democracy
Design
Digital photographers
Drones
Economics
Education
Emmanuel Todd
Environment
Europe
Expression Engine
Family
Food and drink
France
Friends
Getting old
Globalisation
Healthcare
History
How the mind works
India
Intellectual property
Japan
Kevin Dowd
Language
Latin America
Law
Libertarianism
Links
Literature
London
Media and journalism
Middle East and Islam
Movies
Music
My blog ruins
My photographs
Open Source
Opera
Painting
Photography
Podcasting
Poetry
Politics
Pop music
Propaganda
Quote unquote
Radio
Religion
Roof clutter
Russia
Scaffolding
Science
Science fiction
Sculpture
Signs and notices
Social Media
Society
Software
South America
Space
Sport
Technology
Television
The internet
The Micklethwait Clock
Theatre
This and that
This blog
Transport
Travel
USA
Video
War


Tuesday September 01 2015

I believe I may have said here recently that I did not care for selfies, although I cannot find where I said this.  But whether I said this or not, it is not entirely true.  There is a kind of selfie that I do like, which is when I am photoing some scene or other, and I am able to sneak a selfie into it, in a small part of the picture.

Partly this is because my understanding is that Real Photographers go to enormous trouble to avoid such selfie effects.  As with PR experts, if tthe Photographer is the story, or any part of the story, then he isn’t telling the story right.  The Real Photographer is not doing his job, which is to create a photo of whatever he is photoing, not of him, the Real Photographer, photoing it.  The Real Photographer is supposed to be invisible.

Well, fair enough, business is business.  But I am not in business.  I am wandering about, having fun.  If I show up in one of my photos, that’s fine, because that was what was going on in front of my camera.  There was this mirror or this window or this shiny windscreen or whatever, and my face bounced back to my camera off of it.  It happens, and it’s all part of how cameras work and what can happen with them.

Besides which, more fundamentally, I am not trying to persuade you that you were or are actually there.  No.  This is a photo. Photos are different from what you actually see if you are there, that being a great deal of the point of them, and a great deal of the fun of them.  Cameras see and tell you about things that you might very well have missed, if you had merely been there, just as I do constantly miss stuff when I was there taking the photo, and only see later.  It’s not reality.  It’s a photo. Which means that someone stood there, with a camera, and took that photo.  And, sometimes, the camera sees that.  Why is that wrong?

All of which is a preamble-stroke-excuse for the following selfie:

image

I am the bloke in the light green shirt and the dark jacket, reflected in the bus window, underneath the “38” of “38 Victoria”.

Now, I approach my original point, the point referred to in the title of this.  To me, it doesn’t look as if I am standing where I obviously had to be standing.  No, it looks like the bloke in the light green shirt can’t be me, because the bus, all of it, and especially the bit with the reflection of the green shirt bloke, is a bit to my right.  Ergo, green shirt bloke had to have been standing a minimum of about three yards to the right of me, me being the bloke who took the picture.  But, despite all appearances to the contrary, me and green shirt bloke are one and the same.

I presume that this odd effect is the consequence of the lens (there is only one) in my camera being of the very wide angle sort.  This means that the camera takes a very wide view, but then makes the result look not so wide.  Everything that would be seen by the eye as being way off to the side is squeezed into the picture.  And things on the far left, to the left of the photographer at the time, are squeezed into looking as if they were on his right, in the picture.

I don’t think I’d have been able to see this nearly so vividly, if this picture had not been, among other things, a selfie.  On the other hand, it was not a selfie in the sense that I deliberately included myself in the picture.  I am pretty sure that just happened, without me trying.

At the time, all I thought I was photoing was a bus, covered in a popcorn advert.

Monday August 31 2015

I was out and about in Soho earlier this evening.  I was with someone, but someone mercifully sympathetic to me taking photos so I got the chance to grab this shot:

image

I like how the ostentatiously silver colour of this vehicle grabbed every bit of light there was (as did my Lumix Camera).  And I like how I can now learn what the shiny vehicle was advertising, even though I had little idea at the time.  Capital Golf could have been something financial, for all I knew.  But, it actually is advertising golf, the game, or to be more exact a golfing equipment store.  When I looked more closely at my photo, “London’s Finest Golf Store” was a definite clue.

I could even read the website, and go straight there.  But this website is really boring.  Although that may just be me projecting upon it my personal opinion of golf.

Actually, I only tell myself that golf is boring.  I remember once having a go at it, when I was at my expensive public school in the middle of the last century.  I still remember hitting one golf ball really sweetly and deciding, right then and there, that I would never do this again, because if I did, there was a definite danger that golf would take over my entire life.  And I wasn’t having that.

Sunday August 30 2015

I just watched a recording I made of a BBC TV show called Proms Extra, which is a chat show that responds to and flags up London’s immediately past and immediately future Promenade Concerts.  They were asking themselves whether they minded clapping in between movements, in connection with a performance of The Planets, in which this had happened..  The assembled commentators agreed that they did not mind at all.

Two thoughts from me about this.

First, the assumption seems to be that people clap in between movements because they don’t know they’re not supposed to.  But I think it is much more knowing than this.  I think the audience has changed its mind about this.

There has been a huge movement in music-making to achieve an “authentic” sound, by which is meant the sort of sound made by the first performers of the pieces.  Well, why not more authentic audiences?  Time was when “classical” audiences would clap in between movements without hesitation.  Sometimes they would yell for encores, of symphonic movements, before the symphony had even finished, just like at the opera.  That in-between-movements clapping is now happening (has been for quite a while actually) at the Proms tells me that the current fashion for clapping in among big multi-movement pieces is a very knowing decision, a very musically educated decision.  We are not “supposed” to do this?  Well guess what, we have decided that we will do this.

It’s not only this, but I am sure that this is part of it.

Personally, I think that not clapping something like the tumultuous third movement of Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony, for instance, seems very unnatural.

However second, there is no doubt that this new convention, if new convention it will be, has not yet been fully established.  Sometimes it happens, sometimes not, and quite often in a rather tentative, awkward and rather indecisive way.  So, it must surely sometimes make life a little difficult for performers.

What if you have just given what you reckon was a tumultuously great performance of a movement which ends in a manner than just begs to be greeted with a round of applause, and there is silence?  In the older days, of strict inter-movement silence, fine.  I’m not finished.  But now?  Hm.  Did they not like it?  And, after a bit of silence, will they relent, and start clapping, just as I am starting the next movement?

The older regime of silence in between movements was at least a rule, which everyone stuck to and which newcomers quickly learned, from all the dirty looks they got if they broke the rule.  And performers could either pause or press on immediately, confident that no clapping would interrupt whatever effects they were seeking to create.

Saturday August 29 2015

Spent my day recovering from hosting a meeting at my home last night.  Much tidying up still to be done.  So, quota photo time.

But, two, both of brightly lit buildings against dark backgrounds.  Part of one of the dark backgrounds being the Shard:

imageimage

That chessboard building is about one minute’s walk from my home.

The one on the left taken in June.  The one on the right just over a week ago.

Friday August 28 2015

Incoming photo (which is something I like a lot), from Simon Gibbs, of a sign (I like signs a lot), near Southwark Cathedral:

image

Click on that to get the bigger, unhorizontalised picture, and read more about what this is about here.  Google sends me regular links to anything that is “new architecture london”, and there’s been lots written about this place.

Although, rather oddly, I couldn’t find any pictures of this sign.  Maybe this will change that.

The gimmick is that this is a pub that sprays alcohol into the air.  That was always going to be catnip to the media, social and regular.  “Breathe responsibly”.  Arf, arf. There are already plenty of pictures around of that sign.

I like statues, by which I mean that I like the statues that I like.  Statues that I like don’t read where it says on my blog that I like them, and then say things like “But you never visit”, when I visit.  They don’t say things like: “So, now that you are visiting quite often, what is this?  Where is this relationship going?” In decades and centuries to come, maybe statues will behave in exactly this sort of troublesome way, but for now, they don’t.  They just stand there.

And, they stand there immobile, which as a rather crap photographer, technically speaking, I greatly appreciate.

Here is a recent London statue that I now like:

image

That’s also another in my ongoing series of Great Photos Taken Rather Badly, which you, oh Real Photographer, can now go and take better.  Big Ben won’t have moved.  Nor will the legs of the recently unveiled statue of Mahatma Gandhi.  Today, as I write this, looks like being a lot sunnier than it has been in London for quite a while.

(New Gandhi statue unveiled in “London’s Parliament Square”.  Interesting how hitherto national organs now aim themselves at the whole world.  The media they are a-changing.)

I only recently noticed this Gandhi statue.  For decades Parliament Square had no Gandhi statue.  Then, it had one. 

Not that Gandhi as he was was anything like what he is now cracked up to be.  (Thank you Instapundit.)

Thursday August 27 2015

This combines two interests of mine, the use of containers to make buildings, and the use of colour, to make buildings look more colourful:

image

It a proposal for a bunch of skyscrapers in MumbaiFrank Gehry‘s influence is starting to spread.

But is it serious?  It shouldn’t be.  Making a skyscraper by piling containers on top of each other makes no sense, because the ones at the bottom have to be able to support the ones at the top.  And the ones at the top have to be very light.  The idea of having all the containers of the same structural strength and hence the same weight is foolishness containerised.  The ones at the top will be far too heavy for what they are doing and the ones at the bottom will be squashed flat.

And if you are not piling containers on top of each other, but are merely slotting them into an already constructed structure, then here’s a plan.  Why not save bother by not using big, heavy, lumpy old containers.  The simple fact is, containers are only useful for making regular old buildings of the sort of height that buildings used to be before they invented mechanical lifts and structural steel (even though containers are themselves made of structural steel) and reinforced concrete.

Besides which, it surely only makes sense to make a building out of containers if you can get some leftover containers on the cheap.  There’s no way they could get that many containers by just waiting for them to fall off a container ship.

Wednesday August 26 2015

Just had another rootle in the photo-archives, and I encountered two nice (if rather cheesey (but I don’t care)) photos, which had in common that there were not entirely nice, but that if I cropped a couple of squares out of them, they became a lot nicer.  The one on the left is the bottom right hand corner of the original.  The one on the right is two thirds of the original with the left one third omitted.

imageimage

Taken in Jan 2007 and Feb 2008.  (Feb: no leaves.)

Tuesday August 25 2015

I had another of those Goodness Me How The World Is Progressing!!! moments the other day, when I read a Wired piece by Brian Barrett entitled The flash storage revolution is here, and in particular stuff like this:

In 2013, Samsung announced a new way of approaching flash storage manufacturing.  Rather than place the cells along a single layer, as had been standard practice since NAND flash was invented in the 1980s, it would stack them vertically.  That allows for much greater density, which gives you much more storage space.

Samsung’s solution, called V-NAND, has seen remarkable gains since its introduction.  In the first year, the company stacked 24 layers on a single die, while in 2014 it managed 36.  The 16TB SSD kicks that up to 48.

Or, in rather plainer English:

By applying an innovative manufacturing technique to existing flash technology, Samsung has created a hard drive that could store well over 3,000 high-definition copies of Mad Max: Fury Road on your MacBook Pro. ...

But that same paragraph immediately continues:

… It might sound unlikely that you’ll ever need 16TB of space or be willing to pay for it. ...

And Brian Barrett then spends the next few paragraphs trying to convince potential skeptics of the “need” for such vastly increase domestic information storage capacity.

I need no convincing.  If there is one thing I have learned from spending the last thirty years mucking about with these amazing gadgets, it is that more power, more speed, more storage capacity will all turn out to be extremely useful, very quickly, and will then quickly become essential.  Things you just assumed would be impossible quickly mutate into near-necessities.

See also this earlier Samizdata piece by me, entitled Why fast and powerful computers are especially good if you are getting old.  And also this earlier piece, simply entitled Progress, also about domestic information storage, in this case concerning an old SD card I found while clearing junk out of my home, which stored the princely info-quantity of 16 megabytes, which is enough for about three photos with my current camera.

Monday August 24 2015

I’m concocting a short Samizdata posting which will need, if and when it ever materialises, its readers to be able to read what it says in this:

image

Samizdata readers!  If you need this bigger to read it, click on it!

Sunday August 23 2015

When I first started noticing new architecture about fifty years ago, glass figured prominently in the ravings of Modernist propagandists, being the means by which buildings made themselves transparent and thereby proclaimed their structural honesty and modernity.

This same glass was routinely hated by those obliged to live or work behind it.  Glass was the means by which unfortunate inmates of Modernism were fried in the summer, frozen in the winter, or had their skirts looked up through by passing oglers.  The heating and air-conditioning bills could be stupendous.  Often, inmates shoved cardboard behind this glass, to diminish its worst impacts.  Glass in modernistic buidings regularly got broken, often deliberately, not least because first generation modern buildings, at any rate in the UK, often brought out the worst in those subjected to it.

How times have changed, by which I mean: how glass has changed.  It is far more varied now, far more cleverly made, far stronger and less breakable, and far more carefully used in buildings.  Which is not surprising given that glass has only grown in importance, and in the percentage of the surface area of buildings that it now covers.

What follows is the whole of a short report, by Chris Jarvis of Sheppard Robson, of a round table conversation in which he participated last May, about the use of glass in building, organised by the Architect’s Journal.

The prose is sometimes rather businessy and clunky, but I found the content fascinating:

Design process

The conversation was focused on the specification of high-performance glazing. More specifically, how fundamental changes within the industry – which include shifts in legislation and the drive for efficiency in our built environment – have resulted in the specification of glass being determined much earlier in the design process.

Glazing is no longer an adjunct that is decided upon once a concept design is complete and planning has been granted. Issues such as orientation, shading and air-tightness need to be considered in the early stages of projects along with the specification of the glass to ensure the target energy performances can be met. Rigorous energy modelling is also important to enable the right glazing option to be chosen for project, site and client.

Availability of data

One of the key challenges in the specification process is the availability of the necessary rigorous data on materials. Currently, there is a feeling across the industry that the level of detailed product information is not readily available across the board. This provokes the question of how can technology be harnessed to collate the necessary technical performance and cost data - which architects, façade engineers and contractors can use - to make the right choices earlier in the process.

New products

A holistic approach needs to be taken to assess all of the above criteria and select the most appropriate single, double or triple glazed units to meet the performance requirements, whilst staying within budget. Triple glazing is not currently a widely used material to boost performance, mostly due to the cost of the product. However, over the next few years this is likely to change: as triple glazing products become more widely used and technology develops to decrease the weight of the product, it will become more viable for projects and client budgets.

However, the use of more advanced, highly tuned technology requires more monitoring after completion to access the efficiency of the product over the lifespan of the building. Currently, rigorous data of how glazing performs after 10 and more years does not exist; how can new products help the industry close the ‘performance gap’ and alert us to poorly performing glass that is ultimately having a major impact on the efficiency of our built environment.

I chanced upon this at the Sheppard Robson website after photoing one of their buildings, the new headquarters of the Salvation Army, near St Paul’s, and then looking that up on the www:

imageimage

It looks good, even if custom build HQs often spell trouble for the organisations which move into them.

While I’m on the subject of glass, several incoming emails have wanted to be sure that I had clocked this:

image

That’s a swimming pool made of glass.  I yearn to photo oligarchical mistresses frolicking about in it, but, no chance.  This will be inside a very gated community, in the vicinity of the new US Embassy in Battersea.  I am optimistic, however, that we might all eventually catch a glimpse of such a thing in a James Bond movie, complete with frolicking oligarchical mistresses.

The above picture, and further details, here.

Saturday August 22 2015

Recently, here:

I hate leaves.  All over London there are great views, totally ruined by leaves.

I always regard it as a sign that I am onto something when 6k notices me noticing whatever it is, and he did notice that.

This outburst was prompted by the experience of photoing the lovely Pavlova, twice, and once through trees of the sort which, had the photo been taken later in the year, like now, would have been totally clogged up with leaves.

Here is another photo of this sort:

image

Take a careful look at that (perhaps by clicking on it to get it a decent size).  Look how many Big Things would be invisible if all the branches and twigs there all had leaves stuck on them, as happens during the summer.  The photo would be nothing.  Just a station sign, and lots of damn leaves.

Or how about this?

image

That’s Vincent Square, which is a two minute walk from where I live.  Both the above photos were taken in March of this year.

Several Quite Big Old Things there, along with The Wheel of course.  And although leaves wouldn’t totally blot all that out, they’d also do severe damage to that view.  The top of Big Ben would still be visible, but The Wheel would be half gone and the Other Parliament Tower almost totally so.  If – the horror - TV aerials sprouted leaves during the summer, that would do for the other half of The Wheel and most of Big Ben, because there is a little clutch of TV aerials right between them. 

Despite being very London, I do not object to this picturesque view, even though it is so classically England countryside in its effects.  You can almost smell the warm beer.

Friday August 21 2015

Photoed by me, outside Earls Court Tube, last night:

image

Click on that to get the bigger, truer, duller, original picture.

Thursday August 20 2015

On a sunny afternoon in June, this was the big picture, complete with Big Things, and a bridge, in the background:

image

I homed in on that photosession, down by the river there.

There were making a bit of a spectacle of themselves, so their recognisable faces would have been fair game, but I took lots of pictures of them, and am able to show you only faceless pictures like these:

imageimage

My favourite faceless photo being this one:

image

There was a big crowd looking down on all this.  They really can’t complain, and I don’t believe they will, in the event they see those pictures.

Happy day.

Wednesday August 19 2015

Indeed.

When I took this snap, this afternoon, ...:

image

... all that I thought I was snapping was a selfie session, done by two ladies with conveniently face-hiding hats of agreeably contrasting colours.

When I got home and saw the above photo on my giant home screen, I got two nice surprises.  First there was the surprise of how well the photo had come out on such a dull day.  But there was also the surprise of what that clip-on thingy is on the iPhone.  As so often, my camera saw more that I saw.

A little googling soon got me immediately to such places as this.  That’s right, a clip-on, fish eye lens.  £10.99.

Only a smartphone camera is thin enough for a lens to be just clipped on like this.  Did you see that device coming?  Me neither.

I’m guessing that taking a selfie with such a lens makes it much more likely that you will be in the picture, which is presumably quite a problem if you can’t see the picture you are taking.  It also gives you a panoramic view in the background.

I wonder if they clocked the bloke photoing them, in that background.