Dramatic sky over Brixton

For all I know the sky was quite dramatic over other places too, but it was in Brixton that I saw it:

Often, when I show photos here, they were taken days, weeks, months or even years ago. Yesterday, there were photos that were taken ten years ago. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but: the above photos were taken earlier this evening, when I journeyed out to Brixton Curry’s PC World Carphone Warehouse or whatever the &&&&& it’s called, to try and to fail to buy a new TV. Which means that this is topical meteorological reportage.

Click on any of the above photos if you wish, and if you do you’ll get the bigger versions. But I actually think that the smaller versions are more dramatic, because more abstract and less of something. Like little oil paintings. Especially the first one.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Video cameras from yesteryear

Yesteryear as in: photoed by me ten years ago today:

Guesses (and I do mean guesses (though the guesses took me ages)) as to what they are, and when they were first manufactured:

Top left: Sharp Viewcam VL-AH151 camcorder – 2002

Top right: Sony DCR-DVD610 DVD Handycam2008 (doh!) 2007

Bottom left: Sony Handycam DCR-TRV265E – 2004

Bottom right: Samsung Sc-d363 Ntsc Camcorder Mini Dv 1200x – 2005

Regular still cameras from ten years ago look very dated. But things that look very like regular cameras used to look are still in use now, despite the rise of smartphone photoing. They’re just a lot better.

Video cameras from ten years ago, on the other hand, now look absurdly, wildly, ludicrously dated. This is because they are (a) often much bigger than almost any cameras are now, and (b) have been pretty much entirely replaced by smartphones, which are tiny.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

BMdotcom quote of the day: Amy Wax describes bourgeois virtues

Professor Amy Wax, quoted in this:

Get married before you have children and strive to stay married for their sake. Get the education you need for gainful employment, work hard, and avoid idleness. Go the extra mile for your employer or client. Be a patriot, ready to serve the country. Be neighborly, civic-minded, and charitable. Avoid coarse language in public. Be respectful of authority. Eschew substance abuse and crime.

These are the kind of virtues that, in Charles Murray’s words, the upper classes of the USA have been practising, but have been neglecting to preach to those below them in the social pecking order. Result says Professor Wax: disaster.

That phrase about preaching what they practise is a good one and I am glad it is getting around. (I mentioned it in this Samizdata piece.) I don’t always practise these virtues myself, particularly the ones concerning working hard and avoiding idleness. (I would also want to distinguish between serving my country and serving its mere state apparatus.) But I preach these virtues nevertheless. Do what she says, not what I do.

A little hypocrisy is far preferable to a lot of silence in these matters.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Photoer photos at the top of the Walkie Talkie

In January of 2016, a year and a half ago now, a friend and I checked out the top of the Walkie Talkie, and we liked it a lot.

I, of course, photoed photoers, of whom there were, equally of course, an abundance. And although at the time I collected the best photoer photos together into their own little subdirectory, I never got around to putting the selected photos up here. But I chanced upon them last night, and I think they deserve the oxygen of publicity. So, here they are:

As the years have gone by, I have come to like photoing photoers as much for the places they photo in and the things they photo as for the photoers themselves. From the above photos you get quite a good idea of what the top of the Walkie Talkie is like and what you can see from it. The weather that day was rather dull, so the actual views I took were rather humdrum. These photoer photos were better, I think.

The Walkie Talkie Sky Garden advertises itself as a sky garden, but it is more like an airport lounge with plants, that has itself taken to the air. Getting access to it is like boarding an airplane, with luggage inspection and a magnetic doorway you have to walk through. In this respect, as well as the splendour of the views, the Walkie Talkie resembles the Shard, which imposes very similar arrangements on all who wish to sample its views. But sky garden or not, I liked it.

One of the many things I like about the Walkie Talkie is that its very shape reflects the importance attached by its designer(s?) to making a nice big space at the top for mere people to visit and gaze out of. As well as, of course, creating lots of office space, just below the top but still way up in the sky, for office drones to enjoy the views from. Their work may often be drudgery, but at least they get an abundance of visual diversion.

In its own way, the Walkie Talkie is as much an expression of the economic significance of views as those thin New York apartment skyscrapers are. The difference being that in a big office you don’t have to be based right next to a window to be able, from time to time, to stroll over to a window. So, as the building gets taller and the views get more dramatic, it makes sense to fit more people in. Hence the shape of the Walkie Talkie.

If one of the jobs of a Walkie Talkie drone happens to be to try to entice clients to come to the Walkie Talkie, to have stuff sold to them, well, those views might make all the difference.

Note that Rafael Vinoly designed the Walkie Talkie, and designed the first of those tall and thin New York apartments. These two apparently very different buildings have in common that both of them look as they do partly because of the views they both offer.

I also like the Walkie Talkie because so many prim-and-proper architect type people dislike it.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Me and Patrick Crozier talking about WW1: If only?

A few weeks ago, Patrick Crozier and I recorded a conversation about the First World War. Patrick’s short intro, and the recording, are here. (It would appear that Croziervision is now back in business.)

The “If only” of my title is because we talk about the question of “what if” WW1 had never started. What might have happened instead? The unspoken assumption that has saturated our culture ever since is that it would surely have been far, far better. But what if something else just as bad had happened instead? Or even: something worse?

We discuss the reasons for such pessimism. There was the sense of economic unease that had prevailed since the dawn of the century, resulting in a time not unlike our own. And, there was the fact that Germany, Austria, Russia and Turkey were all embarked upon their various journeys from monarchy to democracy, and such journeys are always likely to be, says Patrick, bloodbaths. Whatever happened in twentieth century Europe, it surely would not have been good.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Bromley-by-Bow tube to the Twelvetrees Crescent bridge

Some of the best walks in London that I have done in recent months have been alongside the River Lea. Typically, I would start at Bromley-by-Bow tube station, go south along the A12 and then turn left along Twelvetrees Crescent until I get to the Twelvetrees Crescent bridge. Then I’d go either north or south.

On one of these meanders, the weather was particularly bright and sunny, and before I even got to the river, while I was just walking south along the A12, photo-ops abounded. Or maybe they didn’t but it felt as if they did. Everything, even the most mundane of objects or lighting effects, seemed dusted by a spraycan of joy, and I can’t look at the photos I took that day without that joy colouring my feeling about the photos I took at that moment.

Photos like these:

I can’t be objective about whether anyone else might like the above photos. I was and remain too happy about them to be objective. Just looking at them when I was preparing them for this posting, I became too happy to even care about being objective.

Share my joy, or not, as you please. 1.1 just tells us where we start. 1.2 is another view from the station, but not of it. 1.3 is one of those gloriously complicated drain-unblocking lorries. 2.3 I like because the colours on the car are so like the colours sported by the building, and because the sunniness of it all is emphasised by my silhouette. In 3.2 you can just see the top of the Big Olympic Thing, an effect I always enjoy. And 3.3 features a photo of, I do believe, the Taj Mahal. Lovely.

Not long after photoing all that, I photoed these shopping trolleys.

When I returned a day or two later to retrace my joyful steps, I photoed the excellent footbridge from the Twelvetrees Crescent bridge (one of my favourite footbridges in all of London (although maybe it’s just how good it looked that day from that spot)). I photoed the Shard. And I photoed a map that shows the locality where all these delights are to be found.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Eight

Today being the BMdotcom day for cats, and now also for other creatures, here is another creature, in this case a chicken, in an advert:

And here, photoed by me recently, outside the Old Vic theatre, is one of these excellent machines referred to in the advert, in action:

You can surely see what I did there, and I assure you that it was no fluke. I waited for it to say 8. I also have 9 and 7, because I wanted to make quite sure. I have been photoing these excellent machines for quite a while now.

The 8build website. They’re doing some work on the Old Vic.

On the left in the distance, nearing completion, One Blackfriars. I find liking this Thing a bit of an effort, but I’ll get there. I always do with such Things. According to that (Wikipedia), One Blackfriars is nicknamed “The Vase”. I smell, although I have no evidence for this, an attempt at preemptive nicknaming, by the people who built this Thing. “We’ll call it The Vase, to stop London calling it something worse.” That’s what happened with The Shard, after all. And that name stuck.

I tried to make the title of this “8”, but apparently a number with no letters is not allowed.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog