Ship in a bottle in Trafalgar Square

Ten years ago, I photoed this, in Trafalgar Square, on the plinth where they keep having different sculptures:

But I immediately forgot about it, and only learned about it again now.

But, the internet being the internet, I was quickly able to find out all about it.

The return of the black-all-over London black cab

I was out and about in the Victoria Station area this morning, and it was very cold and very bad photoing light. But, taxis with adverts usually photo well. I saw two taxi adverts I’d not see before.

This, for perfume:

And this, for I don’t know what, but I’d not seen it before:

It had the look of the sort of advert that only happens when when the real advertising is happening a lot less, and they have spare slots going.

Because, that was my overriding impression. Hardly any taxis with adverts, whether I’d seen them before or not. And lots of taxis without adverts:

The ratio was about three or four to one, no advert to advert.

Then, the clincher:

That’s right, a taxi with an advert for taxi adverts. A taxi advert in both senses, in other words. An advert for taxi adverts, on a taxi.

So, here is just another business going through very bad times. Has anyone, I wonder, committed suicide because he’s in the taxi advert business, and is heading for unavoidable financial disaster? It’s not a silly question.

There are just fewer people, and in particular far fewer high spenders and deciders-of-these-things, wandering about in London being influenced by such adverts.

I hear conflicting rumours and stories about just how bad, medically speaking, the Coronavirus story really is. In particular, I am hearing that it’s not just deaths that are freaking out the decision-makers, but the serious and often long-term damage done to people who don’t die. But I am still strongly of the belief that the cure is one hell of a lot more damaging than the disease.

Extraordinary tree

Mick Hartley has been checking out the Alexandra Palace part of London. And his basic point in this posting is that real birds perching on the heads of pretend birds is quite amusing. But then he includes this photo, like it was an afterthought that was too good to ignore, which has nothing to do with birds perching on other birds:

So far as I can tell, this tree looks entirely different from how it would have looked if humans hadn’t constantly been decided where each bit of it would go next.

Whether that’s right or not, I for one am very sure that trees are usually much more interesting when they aren’t smothered in leaves. This one definitely is.

Wooden maps of the world’s cities

So I did rootle through the latest stuff at This Is Why I’m Broke, and came upon these rather classy looking carved wooden maps of cities:

The one on the left is London, and sadly, nobody told them that London has been doing a lot of expanding lately, in general, and in particular out eastwards. I’d have preferred wider coverage, including such things as the Thames Barrier. Not that it matters to me, because CDs and books mean I have no wall space at all for such things.

The one on the right is Brisbane. I include this map because the river that runs through Brisbane and which presumably provoked that city’s creation, is positively Parisian in its convolutedness. Apparently, this Brisbane river is called the Brisbane River. I did not know any of this.

A great photo of a great cricketer (and one of mine of the same cricketer (photoed on the same day))

One of my favourite Twitters feeds is the one featuring historic cricket pictures, at which I recently discovered this photo:

The reason I was so glad to see this photo was: I was there! I would have seen this! And I am delighted to see my high opinion of this innings of Sanga’s agreed with by other Surrey fans.

I didn’t photo that particular incident, and if I had it wouldn’t have come out nearly as well as the photo above, but I did photo lots of other photos that day, of which one of my favourites was this, also of Kumar Sangakkara:

A photoer like me cannot compete with the Real Photographers when it comes to on-field action, several dozen yards away. So I made a point of photoing Sanga from close up, after the game was done and won.

As did others.

Here‘s the Cricinfo report of that day.

In the meantime: A photoer and his fingers

I’m working on a slightly more complicated posting, using photos I took at the top of Tate Modern, on June 22nd 2018. But I don’t want to be hurrying that posting, so in the meantime, to get things started here today, here’s another photo I photoed on that visit:

I like how we can see the details of his rucksack straps. I like his hair, a lot. I like how you can recognise St Paul’s, even though St Paul’s is out of focus.

But, I love the fingers of his left hand. That’s a classic digital photoer thing. At all contortional cost, those fingers must not get in the way of the camera. So, he does that absurdly exaggerated thing, to make entirely sure.

Butterflies in the windows of Harrods – 2011

Yes, in February 2011, I was photoing butterflies, in shopwindows:

And yes, Harrods.

There’s another art that must surely have become a bit more elaborate since the arrival of digital photography. If your window display s temporary, why bother to go to too much bother? But if you can easily go snap and make it rather more permanent, then you’ll surely bother that little bit more.

One of the better talks I have ever given concerned the impact of digital photography, and in that I recall mentioning someone who used digital photography to “collect”, to so speak, butterflies. Real ones. By photoing them rather than by stabbing them with pins. If I’d thought of shop-window displays when preparing that talk, I might have mentioned them also, along with graffiti and ice sculpture.

Lomborg on climate catastrophe

It became clear from the very first paragraphs of False Alarm by Bjorn Lomborg that I was going to have to start revising my prejudices about its author. If, later in this book, Lomborg ever tries to downplay the centrality to the climate argument of the claim that our planet is heading for a climate catastrophe, as opposed merely for a dose of mere climate change, and to deny the centrality of climate science to the climate debate, instead banging only entirely about mere economics, he certainly doesn’t start his book by doing anything like that. Quite the opposite (pp. 3-4):

WE LIVE IN AN AGE OF FEAR – particularly a fear of climate change. One picture summarizes this age for me. It is of a girl holding a sign saying:

YOU’LL DIE OF OLD AGE
I’LL DIE OF CLIMATE CHANGE

This is the message that the media is drilling into our heads: climate change is destroying our planet and threatens to kill us all. The language is of apocalypse. News outlets refer to the “planet’s imminent incineration” and analysts suggest that global warming could make humanity extinct in a few decades. Recently, the media has informed us that humanity has just a decade left to rescue the planet, making 2030 the deadline to save civilization. And therefore we must radically transform every major economy to end fossil fuel use, reduce carbon emissions to zero and establish a totally renewable basis for all economic activity.

Children live in fear and line the streets in protest. Activists are cordoning off cities and airports to raise awareness that the entire population of the planet is facing “slaughter, death, and starvation”.

Influential books reinforce this understanding. In 2017, journalist David Wallace-Wells wrote a lengthy and terrifying description of global warming impacts for New York magazine. Although the article was generally panned by scientists as exaggerated and misleading, he went on to publish the same argument in book form in The Uninhabitable Earth, which became a bestseller. The book revels in unabashed alarmism: “It is worse, much worse, than you think.” Likewise, in his 2019 book, Falter, naturalist Bill McKibben warned that global warming is the greatest threat to human civilization, worse even than nuclear war. It could finish off humanity not with an explosion but “with the burble of a rising ocean.” A bookshelf would groan under the weight of recent books with deliberately terrifying titles and messages: Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change; Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity; The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable; and This Is the Way the World Ends: How Droughts and Die-offs, Heat Waves and Hurricanes Are Converging on America.

Media outlets reinforce the extreme language by giving ample space to environmental campaigners, and by engaging in their own activism. The New York Times warns that “across the globe climate change is happening faster than scientists predicted.” The cover of Time magazine tells us: “Be worried. Be very worried.” The British newspaper the Guardian has gone further, updating its style guidelines so reporters must now use the terms “climate emergency,” “climate crisis,” or “climate breakdown.” Global warming should be “global heating.” The newspaper’s editor believes “climate change” just isn’t scary enough, arguing that it “sounds rather passive and gentle when what scientists are talking about is a catastrophe for humanity.”

Unsurprisingly, the result is that most of us are very worried. A 2016 poll found that across countries as diverse as the United Arab Emirates and Denmark, a majority of people believe that the world is getting worse, not better. In the United Kingdom and the United States, two of the most prosperous countries on the planet, an astonishing 65 percent of people are pessimistic about the future. A 2019 poll found that almost half of the world’s population believes climate change likely will end the human race. In the United States, four of ten people believe global warming will lead to mankind’s extinction.”

You can read the first twenty five pages of this book, including the above quote, here.

Photoer photos guardsman

I like this photo, which I photoed in the summer of 2013, somewhere in the vicinity of Victoria Station, Victoria Street, or some such place:

I like it for lots of reasons, including that it is a fine example of the modified cliché photo. What could be more banal than a bloke photoing a guardsman, in the Buckingham Palace part of London? Yet the manner in which this scene is presented is most unusual.

Like I say, I like it. But I don’t understand it. How – and for that matter why – was that effect created, behind an office door of impeccable dullness and insignificance? They are clearly not shadows of an actual photoer and an actual guardsman, standing behind me as I photo, because where is my shadow? Are the photoer and the guardsman cardboard cut-outs? If so, the cardboard of the guardsman’s bayonet is very thin and vulnerable.

Are these just big bits of paper, stuck on the inside of the windows? Is it that straightforward? But if so, how come the shadows of the two guys seems of the same sort as the shadow of the two poles with the rope hanging in between them? Which appears to be a real shadow of a real thing, see below the shadow.

Are the two guys 3D sculptures?  But if so, why?  Why go to all that bother in such a place?

And what is that strange ghost-like thing, just to the right of the photoer?

I like puzzle photos, but I prefer it when the puzzle is soluble.

I am now about to test my Bjorn Lomborg prejudices

I recently got lent a copy of this book by Bjorn Lomborg:

But before getting stuck into it, I wanted to describe my prejudice concerning Bjorn Lomborg, based on such things as reading short articles by him and pieces by others about him. But then, when looking for something else in my old blog, I came across this posting from 2012 that already described my Lomborg prejudices, which started life as a comment on a Samizdata posting:

My prejudice about Lomborg (which is why I have not studied his thoughts in much depth) is that he doesn’t understand the argument he says he is in.

In particular, he doesn’t grasp that the essence of the Climate argument concerns whether or not there is going to be a Climate Catastrophe. If there is, then all Lomborg’s chat about merely improving the lives of the poor is just fiddling while Rome awaits incineration.

But if the evidence for a forthcoming catastrophe is no better now than at any other time during human history, then Lomborg’s arguments make sense, as do all other arguments about merely improving things. Economics, business, capitalism, etc. all make sense, and there is no excuse for global collectivism, because it only makes things worse. The only excuse for global collectivism is in preventing a global catastrophe that is otherwise unpreventable.

The climate argument is about climate science, not economics. But Lomborg, being an economist, can’t make himself accept that. He’s the bloke with a hammer to whom every problem must involve banging in a nail. But the whole reason they fabricated the idea of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming was that they could then stop talking about economics, and switch to something else. They wanted to stop losing their argument to people like Lomborg, and instead to win it, in a field where, to start with, they had the advantage of being early adopters, and where their opponents literally did not know what they were talking about.

To be clear: these are just my prejudices, and they haven’t changed since 2012. But because of them I’ve basically ignored Lomborg, and that will now change. I hope now to discover if my prejudices have any solid basis or if they will have to be dumped.