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
Other creatures
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


Monday December 05 2016

On my way to Tottenham, a week ago today, my first stop was Seven Sisters on the Victoria Line, where I changed to the regular railway in order to travel onwards:

image

But who, I wondered while I waited for my next train, were those Seven Sisters?  I made a note to self – written only on my brain cells, but it worked nevertheless – to search out the answer.  Which is easy these days.

Here it is:

The name is derived from seven elms which were planted in a circle with a walnut tree at their centre on an area of common land known as Page Green.  The clump was known as the Seven Sisters by 1732.

In his early seventeenth-century work, Brief Description of Tottenham, local vicar and historian William Bedwell singled out the walnut tree for particular mention. He wrote of it as a local ‘arboreal wonder’ which ‘flourished without growing bigger’. He described it as popularly associated with the burning of an unknown Protestant.  There is also speculation that the tree was ancient, possibly going back as far as Roman times, perhaps standing in a sacred grove or pagan place of worship

The location of the seven trees can be tracked through a series of maps from 1619 on.  From 1619 they are shown in a position which today corresponds with the western tip of Page Green at the junction of Broad Lane and the High Road.  With urbanisation radically changing the area, the ‘Seven Sisters’ had been replanted by 1876, still on Page Green, but further to the east.  Contemporary maps show them remaining in this new location until 1955.

So: trees.  I was hoping for actual sisters.

Sunday December 04 2016

Today, after being knackered yesterday, I had a quiet day, but just before it got dark, I visited my roof, and took photos.  As you can see from a couple of clocks in the pictures (this one (1.1) and this one (3.1)), it was just after half past three, and already it was starting to get dark:

imageimageimageimageimage
imageimageimageimageimage
imageimageimageimageimage

My official purpose was to find out what stage the new US Embassy has got to (1.3).  But I also like 1.2 and 2.1, because they feature bright lights, looking almost as bright in my photos as they did for real.  3.3 features a view of the next door tower block that I hadn’t noticed before, flanked rather pleasingly by chimneys.

The sky (2.2) was also looking good, it being vapour trail weather.

Saturday December 03 2016

And I am so knackered that I am too knackered to explain why I am so knackered.

Here is a photo I took today of a fellow photoer:

image

Woolly hats and gloves often come out especially well, I find.

Good night.  I am off to bed.

Friday December 02 2016

Friday is the day here for cats and other creatures, so here, among other things, is a panda:

image

What this photo illustrates is the perennial problem of trying to chuck stuff out, which is that all too often, stuff is just too nice to chuck out.

I recall, a year or two after the Berlin Wall was dismantled, meeting an Eastern European lady, who complained about how the packages and pots and bottles in which produce was suddenly now sold was too good to chuck out.  Bloody capitalism.  Capitalist rubbish was better than what they had previously had as actual stuff.

In a modified form, I now suffer from this syndrome.  It has crept up on me more gradually, but throughout my lifetime, packaging has been getting ever better, probably because it is the sort of industry that politicians disapprove of, and have hence left to its own devices, an industry’s own devices invariably being better than any device devised by politicians.  The packaging industry, not having been “helped”, has thrived.

Beer bottles (the one in the picture still has beer in it so that will be consumed first), I have learned not to miss.  But even they are sometimes so artfully designed that it seems wrong to throw them away.

The coffee jar I will keep, because coffee jars are so structurally impressive.

But that panda has got to go.

Thursday December 01 2016

I have spent yesterday and today indoors, tidying up, or at least trying to.  Infrastructural Overload is a terrible thing.  This posting is about this tidying.  You have been warned.  Spoiler alert.  You risk being seriously bored – angered even - by the triviality of it all.

The turning point was setting a date by which a serious amount of tidying needs to be done.  The date in question is December 30th, when there will be a post-Christmas party and a talk in the evening, in the place now being tidied.  December is a long month, in the sense that the last Friday of November was on the 25th, which was when I last entertained here in a space-hungry way.  So the last Friday of December is five weeks later, rather than your more typical four.  The key decision was not to attempt any entertaining before Christmas, which gives me a nice long time, and in particular that precious blank (for me) time around Christmas, to get stuck into all the shite that needs de-shiting.

The basic problem is a lot of piles of unprocessed paper.  We are talking about an enormous in-tray in a small dwelling, which is not a good combination.  Today, the piles of paper are now mostly in the living room, on top of big planks on top of sofas, and the processing has begun.

I already have a small chair-load of superfluous paper, destined for the bins, and have made several discoveries.

I have discovered two vital books of instructions that I had thought gone for ever, one for my washing machine and the other for a recording device.  Very gratifying.

And, I have discovered that some magazine wraps themselves in biodegradable plastic.  I found several such unopened magazines from several years back, and the wrapping has biodegraded.  I had to vacuum bits of it off my hands.  I’ve often wondered what biodegradation looks like.  Now I know, a bit more than I did.

I anticipate a sense of liberation, of spiritual renewal, once a serious amount of tidying has been done.  This may be a delusion, but if so it is a delusion that is already having consequences, in the form of me doing tidying up.

Wednesday November 30 2016

The first of my two trips earlier this week to Tottenham was on Monday, and, as soon as I stepped beyond the front door that I share with my neighbours, the weather put me in very a good mood.  It was exactly as had been prophesied, namely: perfect.  Sky, fifty shades of blue, depending on what else you put next to it, thus:

imageimageimage
imageimageimage

All of these photos involve scaffolding, which is a thing I love, along with cranes.  (Also bridges.) Scaffolding says that Men Are Working, building a better future for us all.  Scaffolding says that Men With Money think that here, there is more money to be made, selling or renting new or newly refurbished places.  Cranes say the same.  (Bridges say: here are two places worth connecting.)

On a day such as Monday was, scaffolding can look especially fine, because Monday was the kind of day when just about anything was looking fine.

1.1 is of some home improvement going on as seen from just outside my front door.  1.2 and 2.1 are both of the building going on across my courtyard, where they are turning a posh office into posh flats.  And 2.2 is of some scaffolding to be seen in Vauxhall Bridge Road.  (Although there seems to be disagreement between the sign in my photo and the only relevant website I could find, concerning what number to ring to get Superior Access Scaffolding.)

Lovely.

And all of this before I had even arrived at Pimlico Tube.  It was an auspicious start.  The rest of the day did not disappoint.

Tuesday November 29 2016

Indeed.  This is not one of all-too typical late night, last minute postings.  This is me getting my blogging here done before I depart again to Tottenham, because when I get back I will be completely knackered.

Photoed by me last week, in Lower Marsh, where for some reason antique automobiles are often to be seen:

image

Considering how dark it was, this came out pretty well, I think.  I took several other shots of this goddess, most too blurry to be any good.

When I showed the surviving clutch of non-blurry photos that I took of this car to a friend over the weekend, it suddenly seemed to me that this particular photo makes this car look a bit like the E-type Jag.  This is not an argument.  But it was a definite feeling. 

Here is an E-type viewed from a similar angle.

I think what made me see this similarity is that this is the angle that de-emphasises that characteristic upward bulge on the E-type bonnet, a bulge which means that from most angles, the Citroen DS and the E-type do not look the same.

More on my fascination (widely shared) for antique cars in this earlier posting.

Monday November 28 2016

Today I visited Tottenham, and I intend to return tomorrow, both expeditions having been prompted by these two weather forecasts:

imageimageimage

That I have already decided this evening where I will be going tomorrow, and that I already knew last night what I was going to do today, is typical of how I now do these expeditions.  Trying to work out, in the morning, where I’ll go that day, given that the day is turning out nice, tends not to work so well.  Being old and tired and physically lazy, I have to have an interesting and attractive destination in mind as soon as the day starts, in order to force me out the front door soon enough for the expedition to amount to something.

In this respect, I am turning into my Dad.  When I was a kid I used to tease my Dad about all the planning that would go into family expeditions, and he used to justify this with questions starting with the words “What if?” What if, we get into an accident?  What if, one of us gets sick?  What if, the trains are disrupted?  We need a plan capable of taking care of everything.  I used to think he was being over-cautious, and that we ought to just get started and deal with problems as and when they happened, which they mostly wouldn’t.

Well, as I get older, I become less good at adapting, by which I mean that I can change a plan in mid plan, but that it takes longer and is more stressful.

But more fundamentally, I now suspect that my Dad may have needed his plan just to get him going at all.  Without a plan to drive the expedition forward, with artificially created deadlines and reasonably enticing objectives, maybe he just wouldn’t have been able to muster the energy he needed to lead us forth into the world at all.  Like me, he knew that he would be happier if he did get stuck into an expedition, and would be depressed if all he did was sit at home doing this or that amusing but trivial thing.  So, he would devise plans to make himself do what he wanted to do.  My Dad’s plans were not as he sold them to me, mere precautions.  His plans were energisers.

But maybe that’s just me.

Sunday November 27 2016

Indeed:

imageimageimage
imageimageimage

People taking photos with their mobile phones, now more commonly known as smartphones because of all the other things they can do also besides phoning people when out and about, is now something you see everywhere.  Above is a typical such photoer, whom I photoed at the top of the Big Olympic Thing last Tuesday, just before it got dark, on the same day I took these photos.

1.1 and 1.2 both show classic finger-work, of the sort I have long been familiar with, but which I nevertheless never tire of seeing and photoing.  These shapes always make me smile.

2.2 is a classic screen shot, with everything on the screen very visible, as it is often not.  Normally I like bright, outdoor light, but when it comes to photoing other people’s screens, the worse the light is the better.

Perhaps 2.1 is the most interesting one, because it shows what dirty windows there are up there.  The human eye doesn’t see through dirty windows very well, but cameras do this better, unless the camera is photoing the dirt, in which case it really photos it.

Or maybe it has been invented and the answer is it’s called lots of little flat screen televisions.

This thought was provoked by seeing this picture, at Mick Hartley‘s:

image

There’s nothing wrong with this Big Thing that painting it entertainingly wouldn’t put right, in fact very right indeed.  It could become a well-loved landmark, if only it was spruced up a bit, with some bright colours.  This Big Thing is called the Edificio Torres Blancas, and it is in Madrid.  In Spain they like bright colours, right?

But, what bright colours?  The answer is to copy what they now do in Trafalgar Square, with that Fourth Plinth.  In Trafalgar Square, they have solved the problem of what to put on the Fourth Plinth by keeping on changing it.  That way, everyone gets to like some of the objects they put on the Plinth, and that way everyone who dislikes what is there now can comfort themselves with the thought that it will soon be gone.  All can photo the ones they like and ignore the rest.  Eventually, a winner may be declared.  Eventually, a thing will be put there that seems to right, to so many people, that it will be decided to keep that thing there for ever.

That’s what they should do with the colouring of the above Big Thing in Madrid.

So, techies, get to work.  What we need is a new sort of paint that you just slap on, but whose colours, down to the minutest detail, can then be controlled by a big old computer at ground level.

Or, this is already possible, as the advertisers are now proving with their changeable screens, and all that it missing is that this is, for a mere building, as opposed to a commercially profitable message, for the time being, too expensive.

Also, maybe the architect is still alive and vetoing any such notions, insisting that his masterpiece remain blancas, or failing that then at least grey all over.  Time will soon correct this sorry state of affairs, if state of affairs it be.

Saturday November 26 2016

From the BBC updates on the Scotland v Georgia rugby game at Murrayfield this afternoon:

Scotland have really struggled against the Georgian scum in the second-half.

Hastily corrected to “scrum”.  Should have done a screen capture.  As it is, you just have to take my word for it.

Actually Georgia is a great place.  It recently came sixth in the world in one of those economic freedom charts, as I mentioned in passing in this posting

LATER: Oh dear.  Not Murrayfield.  Kilmarnock.  Whenever you moan about someone else’s error, you make an error.  It’s inevitable.

Friday November 25 2016

Memo to self.  Whenever you see a clock, photo it.  Why?  Because that will ensure that you actually know what time all those photos that day were taken, what real clocks moving back and forth but my camera’s clock: not.  I usually get the date right.  The time, often not.

One day, when a clutch of my photos taken several years ago are crucial to establishing or destroying an alibi for a criminal suspect, knowing the exact time could turn out to be very important.

It helps that I like clocks and tend to photo them anyway.  Now I will try to make a habit of it.

This clock …:

image

… is to be found at the top of a rather intriguing building in nearby Victoria, now the National Audit Office, but which used to be an airline terminal.

I photoed this clock from the roof of my home, on the same day I took these photos.

Thursday November 24 2016

I took this photo …:

image

… yesterday.

This rather alarming message was displayed in the Waterloo Station concourse area, in rather large lettering, and you can see more of that if you click on the above horizontal visual slice.

All it was was part of an advert for the Top Gear replacement that Clarkson, Hammond and May are now doing for Amazon.  But photography sometimes does this.  But “this”, I mean that it can snatch messages out of the flux of everyday life – especially everyday advertising – and bestow upon them a portentousness that they don’t really radiate, when they are merely doing their job.  Now that adverts can change their screens, there can be one message, and then another, like a TV advert.  And the result is these snatches of text that can pack far more of a punch than they do in real life, so to speak.

Wednesday November 23 2016

As promised (a rarity with me – both the promise and the fact that it is being so rapidly fulfilled), a somewhat more substantial posting.

In the form of a clutch of photos taken yesterday, in and around Stratford.  I don’t mean Stratford on Avon, I mean Stratford.  Stratford, London, where the Olympic Games recently happened.

1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 3.2, 4.1, 4.2 and 6.1: Some of the big, bland modernism to be seen springing up there.  1.4, 2.1: A couple of views taken from within Stratford Station.  What, you are asking, are those strange green and yellow lozenges?  What indeed?  i.e.: Art.  4.2 is a sign about the languages spoken in, I think, a hairdressing enterprise, which my friend and I encountered in a little clutch of ethnic enterprises to be found inside the Westfield Centre.  1.3, 2.3, 2.4, 3.4, 4.2, 5.2, 5.4, 6.2 and 6.3 all feature cranes.  You can’t avoid cranes in London even if you want to, and I don’t want to.  1.4 and 5.2: The Big Olympic Thing.  4.4 and 5.1: Big Olympic rings.  5.3 is the Olympic Velodrome, which my friend wanted to show me.  I agree, nice.

And nice light.

imageimageimageimageimageimageimage
imageimageimageimageimageimageimage
imageimageimageimageimageimageimage
imageimageimageimageimageimageimage
imageimageimageimageimageimageimage
imageimageimageimageimageimageimage

The puzzles are 3.3, and 4.3: Disco balls in a pram, and a shiny ball on stilts, like a cheap SF movie alien.  How come?

But that’s the whole point of big cities.  You can’t expect to understand everything just by looking at it.

The place is only in the very early stages of coming alive.  At the moment it reminds me of the posh, for-foreigners bit of old East Berlin, before the USSR fell to pieces, which I visited in the mid-80s.  Expensive, but lifeless.  Soon Stratford and its surroundings will look more like East Berlin presumably looks now.

Tuesday November 22 2016

While searching yesterday for Brittany lighthouses, I came upon this photo of some Brittany sea:

image

Judging by the other photos taken at the same time, this one was grabbed through the window of a moving car.  If that’s right, not bad, although I attempted some straightening, with rather imperfect results.  Those programmes that can rotate in 0.1 degree increments, rather than just in 1.0 degree increments, have a definite edge, in my opinion.

Mostly, when I try to photo very bright light, my camera either tones the bright bit down or it turns everything else far too dark, one way or another trying to balance everything, and the effect is lost.  By which I mean, it is not anything like what I saw.  But sometimes it seems to know exactly what I wanted, and this time was, I think, one of those.

I hope to do something rather more substantial here tomorrow.