Summer is a-gone away

Not all the photos I put up here were taken ten years ago or five years ago, or several weeks ago, or yesterday. This one, I took about an hour ago, when out shopping:

Yes, leaves on the ground, the traditional signs that say: summer is definitely over. And it is. Today I awoke to discover that I had got up an hour earlier than I thought. In three days time, it will be November. Even as I write this, a lady on my television is prophesying the first of many frosty nights, of the frosty season.

The good news is that throughout this frosty season I will be able to see, and photo, stuff through the trees, instead of the trees just blocking everything out.

What surprises me is how green some of these particular leaves were. I guess many of them fall off while still green and only a day or two later turn brown. Photoing makes me see more.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

A better photo of One Kemble Street

Recently I went out looking for another good shot of Richard Seifert’s One Kemble Street, of which I am very fond, having already posted some fun photos of it as seen from the ROH Bar and two more rather so-so photos of it, along with a photo of another circular Seifert edifice, also with an anarchic hairdo.

But here is a better photo of One Kemble Street, that I took over a year ago, from the top of the Tate Modern Extension:

The thing is, when I’m out on one of my photo-wanders, the pattern is: Photo, forget. Photo, forget. Photo, forget. I hardly think at all about what I have just photoed. Almost all my thinking concerns the next photo.

When, usually about one day later, I look back at what I got, even then I don’t pay attention to anything like everything I got. Just some of it. Which means that when I look back at some directory or other a longish time later, I notice more photos, basically for the first time since just before I took them.

It’s tempting to assume that this is the result of me getting old. But I suspect that if I had had a digital camera when I was thirty, I would probably have forgotten most of the photos I took then, much as I do now. But, I do think that age probably reinforces this effect.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Hippos

One of the depressing things about the Internet is that excellent places, because not quite excellent enough, or because for a few months they don’t feel quite excellent enough, fall off your radar. Well, maybe not yours, but mine.

So it has been, for me, from a time way back when to about the day before yesterday, with the excellent and constantly updated site which relentlessly explains that This Is Why I’m Broke, this being a succession of things. Rather expensive and somewhat esoteric things, of the sort which someone, maybe you, is going to like a lot.

Things like this:

I have recently acquired a new Cleaning Lady, and her partner happens to like hippos a lot. This is just the kind of thing that he would love. And for a mere £82, 555 it could be his.

It wouldn’t suit me. Quite aside from the thermo-nuclear expense, when I purchase seating I need it to seat the maximum number of people in comfort that it can, in the space that it occupies. This is for my meetings, of which there was another this evening. This hippo sofa is altogether too much hippo and not nearly enough sofa, for my purposes.

And I’m guessing that even Cleaning Lady’s Partner would hesitate at the price, and be told by Cleaning Lady that it would occupy too much space. They being a couple who think that emptiness is a desirable quality in living space. (I like emptiness, but like even more having somewhere to put all my books and CDs and home-recorded DVDs.)

I must have been quite a blow for Cleaning Lady’s Partner when (a) he first set eyes on the above hippo sofa (he will definitely have set eyes on it, because his hippo radar is state-of-the-art) but then (b) having, reluctantly, to decide that, hugely appealing though it obviously is, he could not, in all conscience, purchase it.

But the good news is that I recently encountered, in a local charity shop, and immediately did purchase, the hippo shown below:

You couldn’t sit on this hippo, and frankly, it looks considerably less like a hippo than the hippo sofa does, despite its sofa. But it is a lot smaller and it was a lot less expensive than the hippo sofa.

Following the meeting, Cleaning Lady seems to have departed with the hippo, or I hope she did because I cannot now find it. Hope Partner likes it.

I love digital photoing. For many reasons, only one of which is that when you give someone an amusing present, you can photo it before handing it over, and carry on enjoying it in a convenient, digital form. I took many more photos of the hippo than just that one, but I am now in a hurry to finish this, so one photo will have to do.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Photoers last Sunday

Last Sunday, in among photoing leaning tower cranes and Twentytwo.

I also photoed photoers. I could probably do blog postings for the next fortnight based on nothing but the photos I took that day. Don’t worry, I won’t. But I probably could.

Maybe I am not as keen on photoing photoers as I was a decade ago. Or maybe it is just that there are now lots of other things that I am also keen on photoing, and so my fellow photoers loom smaller in my thoughts when I am now out and about. But they still loom. I still like to photo photoers, whenever the opportunity presents itself:

It was such a lovely day (3.3), and all the better for being a bit misty (3.1 (a lot of zoom in that one, I think)). There was lots of interesting hair (1.2, 1.3, 2.1, 3.1, and best of all 3.2). There was even a very old-school small dedicated digital camera (1.2), of the kind that has been totally replaced by the mobile phone (unless, like this old guy, you have your old-school digital camera and you like to keep using it – this makes a lot of sense to old guy me.)

My keenness to photo architecture just grows and grows. I notice, and like, a new building, and from then on want to photo it from all angles and distances, basically from wherever I can see it, and aligned with whatever else I can find that is aligned with it.

I also delight in photoing architecture which is on the screens of my fellow photoers. The guy in 1.2, in addition to having interesting hair, is photoing the Boomerang.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Jordan Peterson on why zebras look the way they do

Today, I was thinking, what with it being Friday: What can I put here about cats or other creatures that would be of interest? But instead of looking for something along those lines, I was listening to a video conversation between Jordan Peterson and Camille Paglia, about the sorry state of the humanities departments of American universities. I can’t remember why or how, but I was. And twenty four and a half minutes into this, I listened in astonishment as Peterson suddenly started talking, fascinatingly, about zebras.

Why do zebras look the way they do, so very black and and so very white, and so very stripey?

This has long puzzled me. The arch enemy of the zebra is the lion, and the lions are impeccably camouflaged. Their coats are the same colour as the veldt, or whatever it is that the zebras roam about on and that the lions hunt the zebras on, and so the zebras don’t see the lions coming. But the zebras, with their garish black and white plumage, are nothing at all like the colour of the land they live on. What gives? Why the lurid and fantastically visible stripes?

Today I learned the answer to this question.

The answer is: When lions hunt zebras, they do this by deciding on just the one zebra that they are going to hunt, and they concentrate entirely on that one zebra. Eventually, the chosen zebra is exhausted, and the lions catch it and kill it.

And how do zebras respond, evolutionarily speaking? Answer: By becoming extremely hard to distinguish from each other. Their very stripey stripes do exactly this. The result of that is that although the lions try to hunt just the one zebra, thereby exhausting it and killing it, they instead keep getting confused about exactly which zebra is the one they are trying to hunt. And the result of that is that instead of hunting one zebra to its death, they hunt half a dozen zebras, not to any of their deaths, and go home without their dinner.

Some scientists who were studying zebra plumage did what turned out to be a rather cruel experiment which proved this. They squirted some colour onto one of the zebras in a zebra herd. The lions, confident now that they would not be confused about which zebra they were hunting, proceeded to hunt that one marked zebra to its inevitable death. Without such marking out, they couldn’t tell which zebra was which. With such marking, hunting success followed, every time. Every time, they chose the marked and hence easily distinguishable zebra.

I did not know this.

Peterson’s point was that American humanities professors are like this. They all have totally crazy, yet totally similar, opinions. That way, their enemies can’t fixate on one of them and destroy him. Or something. In this version of the zebra stripes story, Peterson is saying that people in general are like zebras. But I really didn’t care about that. It was the zebras and their stripes that interested me.

I love the internet.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Twentytwo

Last Sunday, I photoed those wonky looking cranes. I also took this photo:

That’s not at all what I think, but lots of people do think that those City of London Big Things are indeed follies. Follies being a show that the National Theatre, that concrete thing on the right, was advertising when I walked past it.

I find the Big Things of the City hard to keep track of, given that I do try. Let’s have a closer look at those vertical concrete lumps, that look they will turn into something very big:

There you go. Once you have a name like that, the gates of the Internet open.

So, what’s the City of London about to look like next? The most useful answer I got was this:

That being the picture at the top of a Londonist posting from last July.

Quote:

Based on the visuals, these projects are a mixed bag of ho-hum and coo-wow. Taken together, they make for a crowded cluster that’ll almost entirely obscure the much-loved Gherkin building, once so dominant on the skyline.

A particularly coo-wow part of the story being the Scalpel. See above.

The rather ungainly 22 Bishopsgate, which is going up where the Helter Skelter would have gone until the financing for it collapsed, is going to be the tallest Big Thing in London, for a short while, just until that big boxy tower (“1 Undershaft”) with the diagonals on it goes even higher.

22 Bishopsgate will have a free viewing platform, according to this report from two years ago:

At the top of the building will be a double-height public viewing gallery, which will have dedicated lifts, be free to the public and sit alongside a two-storey public restaurant and bar.

I can’t wait, as people say when they’re just going to have to wait and are actually quite capable of waiting, in a state of impeccable mental equanimity.

This is the kind of building of which it will be said: The view from 22 Bishopsgate is magnificent. From 22 Bishopsgate, you will not see 22 Bishopsgate. They used to say this about the National Theatre.

I sseem to recall taking some closer-up photos of all this activity a few months back. I must take another look at those. And … I just did. June 3rd, earlier this year.

I particularly like this one:

Very stylish.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

The leaning tower cranes of London

I love cranes, especially those big tower cranes they use to build Big Things. So tall. But so thin. But they do trouble me. How do they stay up? Why don’t they ever fall over? Well, they do, sometimes. But mostly they don’t.

And, as I couldn’t help noticing when I was out and about last Sunday, these tower cranes often lean over, in a way that looks like it is asking for headline-making trouble.

Consider one of these cranes, the one on the right, that’s leaning over, about four degree off of the vertical. How does that not fall over? (Thank you vertical lamp post for telling us what vertical is.)

Well, I’m guessing these people know what they’re doing. No, scrub that, I’d be amazed if they didn’t know what they’re doing. This kind of thing just has to be business as usual, no matter how crazy it may look to mere passers-by. As I discovered when I went looking for other leaning cranes in my photo-archives, and I found one that I had photoed just an hour earlier, on the same walkabout:

I think we may assume that the BT Tower is the very definition of vertical.

In each case, the crane is bent backwards by the big concrete blocks that compensate them for the lifting job they do with the other end of their tops. But when no lifting is happening, the compensating weight has no weight to compensate … it. And the result can look very scary.

No London cranes have been reported collapsing during the last few days. So, like I say, no problem.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Pont-Aven et ses environs

I got bogged down semi-working on a succession of postings that never got finished. So here is a quota photo, picked out the archives pretty much at random:

There I was, trawling through a huge clutch of photos taken somewhere in Brittany, in June 2011, but not knowing where they were of. Then that photo presented itself, and all was clarified.

Memo to self: always photo signs, maps, signposts, in fact anything that will later tell me what I was photoing and where. I know, I know, cameras will give you map references, if you ask them nicely. But I’m a twentieth century boy. I like actual maps

Preferably with little signs on them that say: you are here. Or in this particular case, vous êtes ici, which I don’t think the above maps do have. Quel dommage.

I recently started a new directory called “You are here”, for all such map photos.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog