Rolls Royces

Is there anyone in the world who reads this blog but not this one? Perhaps, but it seems improbable. On that off chance, this demographic should be sure not to miss this analysis of an epic car chase in one of those Confessions Of movies starring Robin Askwith.

That’s a seventies Rolls Royce going through a brick wall. It seems that Mark Holland also takes pictures off of his telly.

This is not a move I would care to try unless I owned a lot of Rolls Royces, and as it happens I don’t own even one. Frankly I think the wall would, in real life, have given a better account of itself.

But, I reckon the new German Panzer Roller would probably have done exactly that to it. For months I have been watching out for one of these in the streets of London, moving slowly enough for me to photo it. Nothing. Well, one, moving far too quickly. And then a few weeks ago I finally encountered one. It was parked outside the magnificently red bricked Westminster Cathedral (the Roman Catholic one in Victoria Street), ready to take away the Nigerian bride and groom from their magnificent Nigerian wedding. It was the best looking wedding I have ever chanced upon. Great hats. Ascot, forget it. It was as if the entire occasion had been organised for my entire benefit.

I may stick up more photos of that event anon, with hats, but I promise nothing. Sadly the light was not great, which is what has put me off doing this earlier.

I was expecting to find the new Roller overbearing and ugly. But I like it.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Hundred dollar laptop

This is a very cute design.

The $100 laptop computers that Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers want to get into the hands of the world’s children would be durable, flexible and self-reliant.

The machines’ AC adapter would double as a carrying strap, and a hand crank would power them when there’s no electricity. They’d be foldable into more positions than traditional notebook PCs, and carried like slim lunchboxes.

I reckon some quite old children might fancy that.

I have recently been trying to equip myself with the perfect bag for wandering around London with, on my photography expeditions. And I can tell you that a rigid handle like that is massively preferable to handles which are floppy, because of being made of cloth or floppy leather. Floppy handles crush the fingers. But hard handles can be hard to find.

Please forgive all the phallic innuendoes in the above. And I am now reminded that there is even a reference to “lunchboxes”. Good grief.

More reportage and links, from the BBC, here.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Rules

Usually when you see a blog posting by me with the time 11.59 pm attached to it, that means I did it around 12.30 am and back-timed it. But last night’s posting genuinely did get posted at 11.59 pm. This, on the other hand, is being done a little later than stated. But only a little.

Sometimes quota posting is stupid. But the rule here is: something, however ridiculous, every day. And I believe in rules.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Katrina as art – and Katrina as proof of What I’ve Always Said

Today I went looking for Katrina coverage, and found this weirdly beautiful photo. What do you reckon it is?

Answer:

A row of school buses sits in floodwaters from Hurricane Katrina Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2005 east of New Orleans.

I found it at this New Orleans website. (In a few days that link will probably make no sense, but as I write this now there is a great list of Katrina photos you can rootle through.)

There sure are going to be some fine coffee table books when everything has been cleared up.

And here, I found this quote:

WDSU Channel 6, an NBC affiliate, moved its operations to two sister stations, one in Jackson, Miss., and another in Orlando, Fla. With some interruptions, it got back on the air and presented news and weather programming on its Web site as well. “The Web played a big role in all of this,” said Tom Campo, a spokesman for Hearst-Argyle, the station’s owner.

The Internet, as a decentralized communications network, can be more resilient than traditional media when natural disasters occur. “Owning broadcast towers and printing presses were useless,” said Jeff Jarvis, a consultant to online media companies. “The Web proved to be a better media in a case like this.”

Which surprises me. I would have thought that internet communication, being so heavily dependent in most instances on publicly supplied electricity, with no emergency back-up supplies, would collapse in an emergency, leaving the Big Old Media still functioning and feeling ever so slightly smug about it. Apparently with Katrina it was rather the opposite. Mind you, I only know this because I read it at the New York Times website.

Main lessons: if you are planning to be hit by a hurricane: be rich, and live in a rich country, with emergency services about which it makes sense to be optimistic. Own a car, don’t keep all your wealth in your house, pile what you can of it that is in your house into your car and get out of there.

Note that me quoting that bit about the media, and saying Be Rich, is a particular example of a general law, which is that when unexpected things happen, people will wallow, as quickly as they can, in what they already believe or want to believe. Some have said that Katrina proves that Global Warming is bad, and that the USA deserves a soaking for having caused Global Warming. Others have denounced those who said that as evil opportunists. Both of which opinions are what they both already thought anyway. I’m no different.

Writing about catastrophes for big readership places like Samizdata is very hard. What if you say something tasteless or stupid? Here, if I am tasteless or stupid, who cares? I mean, what are you going to do? Cancel your subscription? What I think I’ll do is copy and paste a particularly eloquent comment that someone left on an earlier Samizdata post, and make that into a posting in its own right. (Update: done.)

To anyone who chances upon this who is in any way badly affected by this catastrophe: bad luck mate. I hope things improve for you quickly. If what you have suffered in uncorrectable, like your granny drowning or something terrible like that, well, just bad luck, I guess.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog