Brian Micklethwait's Blog

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

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Tuesday December 11 2018

Outside Westminster Abbey, in June of this year:

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The first is just the general scene.  Big Ben smothered in scaffolding in the distance, beyond Parliament Square.  Lots of people standing around, enjoying themselves, photoing each other.  And me first noticing a classic croucher photoer, in the middle.  Photo 2, I zoom in on the croucher photoer.  Photo 4 has me including my shadow in the composition, making three photoers in all.  Top left, a photoer’s shadow.  Then the croucher.  Then my shadow.  Nice.  Or so I think.

But Photo 3 (2.1), which I believe was something of an accident at the time, is now my favourite, because of what happens to my shadow.  Part of it falls on the croucher photoer herself.  But the left side of my head’s shadow misses her and hits the ground right behind her, making it invisible to me and my camera and making it look like the side of my actual head has been removed.  In some ways, nicer.  Or so I think.

Photography is light.  And when the light is bright, and when selfie shadows are a feature rather than (as with Real Photographers) a bug, there can be some real fun to be had.

Monday December 10 2018

A slow motion catastrophe, all the more inevitable because this is, after all the internet.  But, it doesn’t happen.

This popped up on my computer screen, courtesy of Facebook.  What happened was was that I activated a video a Friend had stuck up, and this was what Facebook wanted me to see next.  It looked like a nice little catastrophe to pass the time with, so I activated that as well.  And although that catastrophe didn’t happen, what did happen was even better.

Do the people who arrange things like this play with toys beforehand?  That would make sense.

Apparently Transport Blog may be coming back to life, any month now.  But, it promises nothing.

Sunday December 09 2018

Just came across this, photoed by me in Piccadilly, on June 4th of this year:

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So, right around now.

Saturday December 08 2018

Stow-Away is a recent arrival in Lower Marsh:

Stow-Away is a new sustainable and eco friendly apart hotel concept. Stow-Away Waterloo is our first London base made from 26 re-purposed shipping containers, stylishly designed to provide a snug comfortable Stow-Away sleeping experience.

Lots of people have tried to do architecture with old shipping containers, but personally I doubt if it makes much sense.  But, if your task is to sell hotel rooms, then shipping containers are perhaps a good gimmick, for attracting attention and for giving guests something to talk about.  “I slept in a shipping container.” Etc.  I’ve never done this.

It got my attention:

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I enjoy in particular the various reflections there.

All but the last of these photos were photoed in one burst, last September.  The final photo was photoed more recently, in the evening.

I think this hotel is quite good fun, especially those strange looking shades, red on the inside, that are a feature of the front.  But, I regret the trend of which this “apart hotel” is a part, which is the transformation of Lower Marsh from a fascinating and quite cheap thoroughfare, full of diverting shops and eateries, into a dreary and expensive thoroughfare, stripped of all those diverting shops and eateries.

This happens all the time.  A street contains lots of lively and amusing stuff.  Word of that liveliness spreads, and the rents then go through the roof.  The liveliness is priced off to another part of town.  Such is urban life.

What I am really saying is: RIP Gramex.  Follow that link and you find “an important message to our much-valued customers”.  That would be me.  But this “important message” is dated 4th August 2017.  I gave up hope at least a year ago.

Friday December 07 2018

You know how it is.  You go hunting, in your voluminous photo-archives, for a favourite recent photo, and damn it, you can’t for the life of you find it.  But you find other nice photos, and you stick them up on your blog instead.  We’ve all been there.

But today I did the opposite of that.  I went looking for some nice photos to stick up here, and discovered a very favourite photo, which I had previously searched for without success.

This photo was photoed outside Westminster Abbey and looking up Victoria Street.  You can surely see why I like it.

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Number one, it’s a statue.  I like statues, because I do, and in particular because they tend not to be mass produced, which means they immediately tell you where you are.  You are next to this statue.  There it is.  You can’t be anywhere else.  Knowing where you are is, I think, greatly to be preferred to not knowing where you are.  But even worse is when by the nature of the objects around you, you cannot learn where you are, because all the objects in your vicinity can tell you is that could be anywhere.

And, number two reason why I like this photo is that behind the statue, and with the most prominent bit of it clearly line up to be directly behind the statue but safely above it, there is roof clutter.  Not roof clutter that is uniquely voluminous, but still pretty good.  And mistily lit, in such a way that the building upon whose roof the clutter is cluttered does not upstage the statue by rendering it invisible.

The greenery on the right and the building bottom right I am less keen on, but they are, I hope you agree, not too annoying.  To the left, there was some somewhat more annoying stuff, which meant that the cropping on the left isn’t ideal.  But all-in-all, I like it a lot.

The statue is this one.  And the building behind it is called, at any rate by people trying to sell you office space in it, is called Windsor House.  I know it as that quite Big Thing next to the Albert.

This being Friday, is there a Cats or Other Creatures connection?  Well, yes: cats.  Big cats.  Four lions which are to be seen at the bottom of the column upon which the bloke scratching his back with a backscratcher is perched.  These lions do not appear in my photo, but there are there, at the bottom of the statue.

Also, the bloke on the top who seems to be scratching his back with a backscratcher is actually St George, and he has a dragon under his feet, which he is getting ready to clobber with a sword.

Thursday December 06 2018

On the same day, September 24th 2013, that I took all those artistic photos not of cranes, I also photoed something else that wasn’t a crane either.  In addition to liking cranes I also like bridges, but this other something wasn’t a bridge either, despite looking a lot like one.  I refer to this contrivance:

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So far as I can work it out, this is a structure to protect a road against some power lines which are crossing that road.  The road in question being the A1014, aka “The Manorway”, just before it runs out of puff at a roundabout.

I know.  Why this one structure, there?  What’s so special about these power lines?  Were people about to start working on them, and were they scared that they might fall on the road and set light to a lorry laden with some highly inflammable liquid, of the sort they concern themselves with in Coryton?  Could be.  According to this, there used to be a refinery there (hence yesterday’s ruins).  Now, there either already is or there is about to be a diesel import terminal.  Yes, apparently this got going last year.

Maybe the structure I photoed is somehow a consequence of this change.

Wednesday December 05 2018

So I was looking, as I do from time to time, through one of my Stanford-le-Hope directories (the one memorialising September 24th 2013), expecting to be amazed by photos of the giant cranes of London Gateway.  Instead I noticed how much else there was in the Stanford-le-Hope vicinity besides giant cranes:

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There was decaying industrialisation.  There was vegetation.  There were pylons.  There was roof clutter.  Even ground clutter.

So I went all the way to Stanford-le-Hope, so far away from London that I had to pay to get there, and some of my favourite things were things that we have lots of in London.  But, it was great.  Out there in Beyond London, everything is all spread out, and it is easier to photo things.  But, you need to check beforehand that there are things.  And there were lots of things at or near London Gateway, even back in 2013

Time I checked out London Gateway again.  Some time next summer, I think.

Tuesday December 04 2018

Indeed:

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Photoed last March, which I suppose is not yet Spring.  If that’s right, then that makes WInter the longest season.

Wouldn’t it be great, for me I mean, if leaves happened in Winter, but if all the other seasons were too hot for them?

Monday December 03 2018

October 21st of this year was a good photoday for me.  There was this, and then this.  Now let me show you nine chimney pot photos, taken on that same day:

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The first four were photoed in the vicinity of South Kesington tube station.  Then I tubed myself to the West End, which is where the rest of these photos were photoed.

I think my favourite is the fifth, or perhaps 3.2, depending on how you prefer your numbering to be done.  But I like them all, or I’d not have shown them to you.

The final one, 9 or 3.3, was taken from the inside of the top of Foyles.

I’ve called this “chimney pots” because all these photos have that in common.  But there are many other kinds of roof clutter also on show.  I rejected including “roof clutter” in the title, because although most chimney pot arrays do indeed beome very cluttered, as in randomly varied and chaotic, that cannot be said of photo 4, aka 2.1.

The satellite dish in 1.3, aka 3, looks, to a casual observer, aka me when I first encountered it in the directory (not when I actually photoed I), the moon.

Which I like.  And I also like it when there are chimney shadows, as in 1.1 (1), and 5 (2.2).  And there are other sorts of shadows in 6 (2.3).

Plus there’s a crane (7 (3.1)). and a pigeon (9 (3.3)).  But, not any scaffolding that I can see.

Sunday December 02 2018

Tom Holland, agreeing with this lady, says that this thread is a perfect illustration of why the Cromwell Museum’s approach to Twitter …:

… is an absolute model of what museums can achieve with the medium …

What the Cromwell Museum was saying, quite a while back now, was this:

A myth about Oliver Cromwell seen in films & TV is that he dressed dourly in black. The idea that all Puritans did is a Victorian myth; there isn’t a single contemporary portrait of Cromwell in black. He’s always depicted instead in armour or fine clothes.

Interesting.  I agree that this is a very good use of Twitter.

I am still pondering whether to bother with Twitter.  Its censoriou left-wing political preferencesrepel me, and its wearisome slagging contests seem hard to avoid.  (Said he, slagging off Twitter itself.) Postings like the above make me suspect that I may persevere.  They also tell me how to use Twitter myself, if I ever do this more actively than now, even though I am not a museum.

LAT|ER: See also, this, about another “myth”, this time based on a misunderstanding of clothing evidence.

Saturday December 01 2018

I spent most of today, and am about to spend the rest of it, recovering from some combination of a cold, and drinking too much last night, at my Last Friday of the Month evening.  It went very well, but very well is not how I felt this morning, or feel now.

So, quota photo time.

I could rhapsodise indefinitely about this photo (which I photoed on the same afternoon I photoed this photo of Centre Point):

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The thing I want you all to realise is that the light hitting the white sheet is hitting it from both sides.  There is the sun behind the white sheet.  And there is the sun bouncing off the windows on this side of the street, a lot of it in window shaped shapes.

The next project is to track down the building and see what it looks like without all the scaffolding.

Friday November 30 2018

On the eleventh day of this month, which was the one hundredth anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I, I showed a little clutch of Remembrance photos, taken by me outside Westminster Abbey on November 10th.

Here, just before the month of November 2018 ends, are a few more photos taken at that same time:

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These photos all focus – literally focus - on individual regiments and their circular signs.  My angle, today being a Friday, is how such enterprises often characterise themselves as animals, or use animals to remember where they had done military service.  Here we see two leopards, a sphinx (sphynx?), and a deer.

Click on each square above to get the bigger originals, with more poppies, and more crucifixes.

Thursday November 29 2018

Again from designboom, this posting about a Ukrainian rug-maker who is souping up his designs with modern references.  I particularly like this one:

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This works for many reasons, one of them being that there is something very medieval and nostalgic about the whole Star Wars franchise, and lots of cinematic and other scifi in general.  Faster than light travel, for instance, isn’t modern.  It is a bogus technology trick for turning the future back into the Middle Ages, into a world full of faraway wonders and monsters, but not so far away that you can’t reach them soon enough to still be alive when you get there and make your visit count.

By the way, I think “designboom” postings are very badly designed.  The basic problem, although not the only one, is their juvenile refusal to understand capital letters, and their determination instead only to use capital letters for acronymic organisations (like, in this case: “OLK"), but never to signal the beginning of a sentence, or the beginning of a heading.  Or for something like Star Wars.  This is stupid when you are simply writing a chunk of prose.  But it is seriously stupid at a website, because websites are tricky to make clear at the best of time.  Boom?  No.  Fail.  Pity, because they seem to have a lot of good stuff.

This blog, the one you are reading now, is much better designed.  To look at I mean.  Not how it works, which is very badly.

Further to that chat that Patrick Crozier and I recently had about transport (in which we talked about robot cars), here is a little clutch of interesting guesses by Audi, about how robot cars and robot airplanes – i.e. flying cars – might, one day quite soon, work.  “Guesses” is not an insult.  It’s all guesses at this stage in the story.

The Audi “airplane” is a big drone, like a giant photo-drone, although actually the prototype they recently showed off was the idea in miniature.  It carries a people pod, like a regular photo-drone carries its camera.  The drone extracts or drops the people pod from or into a “car, which is a car with a big hole where the people bit is in a regular car.

This makes sense to me.  Cars and big drones presumably need very different sorts of engines, and it does not make sense for the drone to be lugging a big old car engine around with it wherever it flies.  Any more than it makes sense for a “flying car” to be lugging a even bigger old set of airplane engines around with it, wherever it drives.  (I’m guessing (me too) that the Harrier Jumpjet technique would be too expensive and complicated.)

But, “makes sense” is not the same as “will happen this way”.  Nobody knows.  After all, maybe the future will just be people ... you know … climbing out of their cars into their airplanes, much as they do now.

In other robot car news, I was intrigued by an email I recently got from this enterprise about how robot car engines will be lighter and more efficient, on account of not having any longer to be so “driver friendly”.  Robots will prioritise safety and comfort.  They won’t be concerned, when driving, about having the Lewis Hamilton experience.  Again: makes sense.

Wednesday November 28 2018

On the back of a bus, near Victoria Station:

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Photoed by me a few days ago.

Quoth Google:

No results found for “a true gleaming sincerity”

That had to change, and now it has, assuming Google acklowledges the existence of this now very antique blog.

Ulun Danu Beratan Temple Bali. on the other hand …

It’s in wonderful indonesia.  As are these four ladies, wearing complicated hats and holding what appear to be complicated fans:

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More True Gleaming Sincerity there.

Also photoed by me, a quarter of an hour later, also near Victoria Station.