Some housekeeping

Yes, following on from yesterday’s cricket dramas, the mundane matter of how photos look, here, on this blog.

You will recall that last week, GodDaughter2’s Sister and I were wandering about in London. After we had passed through Trafalgar Square, we carried on, across the River, and then along to the Oxo Tower, up which I had never been and up which GD2S now guided me. Here is how the top of that Tower looks from just underneath that top:

Now for the housekeeping. The photo I just uploaded to my blogging software is 1000 pixels across. The blog software cleverly shrinks that photo on your screen, to make it fit the full width of the posting.

However, here is another photo I took from that same spot, of the two Blackfriars bridges, road in the foreground and the railway station bridge behind it, with a little clutch of those Ghost Columns (also featured in photo 4.3 of

The effect is not always visible. You have to widen out the blog posting before you spot the difference. But when you do, you see that the Tower Top is wider across than the Bridges.

Which is strange. What I would like would be for the blogging software to shrink the photo that is 1500 pixels across down to the exact width of the posting, but no narrower, just as it did with the 1000 pixel photo above, of the Tower Top, no matter what the size of the screen you see all this on.

Don’t worry. I’m not asking you to sort this out for me, unless you are Michael Jennings, the man who got this blog going, and who has more recently promised to give this matter his attention.

If you are not Michael Jennings, the purpose of this posting is, however, more than just a matter of showing you a couple of (hope you agree) nice photos. I am also interested in illustrating how an aspect of modern life consists of people like me (who don’t know how all this stuff works) asking people like Michael Jennings (who does know how a lot of this stuff works or failing that knows how to find out how it works) to make stuff we put on the internet look more nearly as we would like it to.

An ongoing agenda for this blog is the texture, so to speak, of modern life. And this particular sort of techno-relationship, between a circle of tech-ignorant people and … That Guy, to whom they all go for answers to conundra of this kind, is very much part of how we all live now. Why be ashamed of any of this? Why not turn it into a blog posting? It’s interesting.

If, despite not being Michael Jennings, you feel that you nevertheless have something to contribute in this matter, feel entirely free to comment. I like comments, and am grateful for all the ones I get.

By the way, if you never have to ask That Guy for help, of the approximate sort that I have just described, then you, for your particular circle of acquaintances, are probably That Guy yourself.

A World Cup Final that could not have been closer

If you don’t care about cricket, you won’t care about England having just won the World Cup. If you do care about cricket, you’ll not be paying any attention to me, here. But, in the years to come, I will. I need to have some links to this game, here, to wallow in, in the years to come.

The strange thing was, for two thirds of the game, NZ were grinding their way to a dreary win, by about 241 to, say, England all out 190. England, making a mess of chasing 242, were 90 for 4 and looking doomed. Worse, a generation of small boys watching it on free-to-air telly with their cricket mad dads would have been wondering what the hell all the fuss was about. Then the sun came out, and Jos Buttler came out to join Ben Stokes, and it then became a different game.

For once, that idiot cliché about cricket being the winner is true. Because this game was shown free on the telly, and because of how it got so crazily close at the end, who knows how many thousands of little kids will have got all excited about Stokes, Buttler, and the rest of them?

For the benefit of those learning about this game for the first time, a day late, England won by winning the cricket equivalent of a penalty shoot-out, after they had been all out for 241, chasing 242 to win. So, a tie. Then, to settle it and to work out who got the trophy, England got 15 in the “super-over” of six halls bowled by one of the opposition bowlers. NZ replied with 15, in their super-over. But England won it because they’d hit more boundaries throughout the day – 26-17, my telly has just told me – than New Zealand did.

Holy, as the man at Cricinfo said in amongst all this mayhem, Moly.

Will their be another patriotic orgy in Trafalgar Square to celebrate this? Along the lines of this:

(Those were photos I photoed in Trafalgar Square on September 13th 2005, in honour of another big England cricket win.) I really don’t see why not.

Also today, that Federer guy was involved in another rather close game, of tennis.

Did you know that these two games ended within minutes of one another? You do now.

Trafalgar Square Things

Yesterday, I walked about in London with GodDaughter2’s Sister. We walked through Trafalgar Square. What we first encountered, on the 4th Plinth, was this:

Spot The Wheel.

Read more about and watch video about what the above Thing “means”, here. It’s to do with the destruction of Things in the Middle East.

However, GD2S reckoned that the best 4th Plinth Thing ever was the Blue Cock. I agree, so I agreed.

Here are some photos I photoed of this, in the Spring of 2014, when it was there:

Scrutinise the label, bottom right, and you will learn that this Big Blue Cock was unveiled, on July 25th 2013, by Mayor Boris Johnson. Very appropriate.

There was another Big Thing on view in Trafalgar Square yesterday:

That being an enlarged replica of the Cricket World Cup. The miniature original of this will be presented to the winners of tomorrow’s final at Lord’s, between England and New Zealand.

In the semi-finals, New Zealand beat India, as has already been mentioned here in passing. This was a surprise. If England had beaten Australia last Thursday, that would not have been a huge surprise. But England smashed Australia, which was a bit of a surprise. As of now, England are favourites. So, and with due apologies to the massed ranks of my readers in New Zealand, no more surprises please.

Rich people look after exotic animals better than poor people do

Because they can.

Human Progress Dot Org:

Why are wolves increasing all around the world, lions decreasing and tigers now holding steady? Basically, because wolves are in rich countries, lions in poor countries and tigers in middle income countries. Prosperity is the solution not the problem.

Flagging up this piece by Matt Ridley.

Now thrive the scaffolders: Videoing Kent v Surrey

That expedition to Beckenham, to watch Kent and Surrey play cricket against each other was fun, what with all the cricket to be watched:

But after ruminating on the photos I took, I now find that one of the more interesting things that I saw and photoed was just off the playing area.

To be more precise, they were to be seen on the far right of the above photo. Here’s a crop from within the above photo that zooms (but only digitally) in on what I am referring to:

That thing that you see there is the sight screen, placed there to enable batsmen to see the balls more clearly as they propelled towards them by the bowlers. Don’t move near this thing when the bowler is bowling from this end. Sacrilege! Delay!

But now, please notice the bit of disembodied scaffolding sticking up above this sight screen, at the right hand end of the sight screen.

Happily, I realised at the time I was there (this does not always happen) that this is something I would be interested in. I took a much closer look:

On the left there, the back of the sight screen, and on the right, the object of my interest.

What is it doing?

This:

Another view of the same gizmology:

I think I spy there no less than three video cameras, which are, like the sight screen, directly behind the bowler as he comes in to bowl. And high enough above the action to see the batsman’s efforts to respond to the bowler’s efforts to see the batsman clearly, without the bowler getting in the way.

Here’s a still from the output of one of those cameras, on the day I was there, which I captured here:

If you watch some of that video, you will note that all the videoing, no matter which end the bowler is bowling from, is from the same end. Which explains why I was unable to find any trace of video cameras near the sight screen on the other side of the ground.

Whatev. Such videoing has absolutely transformed my enjoyment of county cricket. As I type this posting in for the first time, I also have on my computer screen a live feed from the Oval, of the final day of the return fixture between Surrey and Kent. Surrey are struggling, but not out of it yet. In the video capture above we see Sam Curran batting. He’s batter at the Oval now, and a lot depends on him.

It’s been fun watching these video feeds get slowly better, with more stationary cameras being added. The destination that all this is leading to is that all county cricket grounds will be smothered in video cameras (just like the rest of the world) and one guy in a van will be able to edit it all together to the point where you might as well be watching the Sky TV coverage of, say, a World Cup Semi-Final between India and New Zealand, which also happens to going on right now (but which I am not watching because I don’t have Sky). Wow. India, replying to NZ’s (surely) below par 239, are 5 for 2. Rohit and Kohli both gone! Make that 5 for 3!!! Rahul also gone. Cricket. Bloody hell.

But I digress. I’ll end the photos in this posting with a photo of the little tents from where the spoken commentary was done, on that day in Beckenham:

The guy in the blue jeans there is Surrey commentating legend Mark Church.

One of the great things about both video and radio feeds from cricket games these days is that when something sensational happens, you can immediately go there and listen to/watch all the drama, by shoving that line a bit backwards. You couldn’t do that with the old donkey powered radio sets of my youth.

As soon as I’m done here, I will be listening to Aggers and Co yelling with amazement about those early Indian wickets. (Well well, the yellow BBC line, for now anyway, refuses to move back from what is happening right now. Shame.)

Anyway, back to scaffolding. Do I have to insist on what a contribution to modern life scaffolding is now making? Well, I hereby do. And it’s not just for new buildings, or for prettying up existing buildings. Here we see a characteristic use of scaffolding, to prop up some new technology, while they are still working out exactly how to do everything. Where exactly should the kit be? How high? How easy does it need to be to fiddle about with. What is the best way to organised all The Wires!? Until you know such things, use scaffolding, and keep your options open.

See also: rock concerts in sports stadiums. Where would they be, without scaffolding? There’s plenty more to be said about scaffolding. For instance, I haven’t even mentioned, in this, how beautiful it can look. Functionalism in its purest and more elegant form.

Plus, I reckon that there is something a lot like scaffolding on the inside of those canvass hutches where Churchy and co did their radio chat.

Surrey sinking fast against Kent. Sam Curran: out. Also: shame. India now 24 for 4, with the last ball of the tenth over. Karthik out. Matt Henry now has three wickets. This time, for some reason, I was able to shove the line back and hear them describe it. Great catch, they’re saying. And I’ll be able to watch the replay of it very soon at the BBC website. (See the “Aggers” link above. No Aggers today, though.) Thought: This is a situation absolutely made for MS Dhoni.

LOL!!!!: Kent, needing a mere 120 to beat Surrey, 0 for 2 after just five balls. Morne Morkel x2.

However it all ends, this is turning into quite a fun day.

LATER:

The scaffolders were thoroughly upstaged, I fear, which they must be very used to.

The key moment, near the end, was the running out, by about an inch, of MS Dhoni for 50. NZ win by 18 runs. Tomorrow: England v Australia, to find out who plays NZ in the final on Sunday. (And Surrey lose.)

Quota gallery – June 3rd 2009

Indeed. I did quite a bit of work on another posting today, about scaffolding and video cameras and suchlike. But it’s not finished yet, and I don’t like to rush what I say about scaffolding.

So here are twenty photos I photoed beside the River, just over ten years ago:

The second one is no ordinary building site. That’s the Shard.

The scaffolding in front of the BT Tower is, I’m pretty sure, the beginnings of what is now Blackfriars Station.

Most of these scenes are of things that won’t happen again. But the Blackfriars ghost columns are still there, exactly as shown.

Photography is light.

Stephen Davies on how the New World gave the Old World food and money

For a while now, in among doing other stuff, I’ve been reading The Wealth Explosion by Stephen Davies. It’s very good. And, I just got emailed about an event at which Davies will be spaking about this book, at the IEA this coming Thursday. After I’ve been there and done that, I intend to do a posting about the book for Samizdata.

Meanwhile, and following on from this fascinating chunk about China, here’s another bit from this book, concerning food, and silver (pp. 133-134):

[T]he relative unimportance of trade with the New World for most of the Old World does not mean that the opening up of the Americas and of the long distance sea routes had no impact on the greater part of Eurasia. In two ways it had a great, though indirect effect. The first was through what is often called the ‘Colombian exchange’ in which all kinds of products and plants were brought from the New World and distributed around the Old, mainly by the Portuguese and the Dutch. As well as tobacco, we may also mention the potato, the sweet potato, the chilli pepper and the tomato – to give just four examples. These obviously had a major impact on diet and cuisine – it is now hard to imagine Italian cooking without the tomato or Indian without the chilli pepper (or indeed the tomato and the potato). Even more significant though was the way new food crops such as maize and the potato and sweet potato made it possible to support households on much smaller areas of land, so leading to both population growth and important changes in agricultural organisation in many parts of the world, from Ireland to Russia and Poland, to China.

The other principal impact was via the one product from the New World that the Old World had an inexhaustible demand for. This was silver. Before the sixteenth century the world’s major source of silver was Japan (which remained a significant source for a long time thereafter). In the sixteenth century, the Spanish discovered two enormous silver lodes, at Potosi in Bolivia in 1545 and at Zacatecas in Mexico in 1547. The result was a great flood of silver into the world trade system after 1550. This made it possible for the great Asian empires to create a uniform silver-based currency for their territories, particularly in the cases of the Ming and Mughal empires. The flow of silver around the world also lubricated trade and made whole economies much more liquid than had been the case before. One reason was that now trade was possible between parties where previously it had been difficult because one had nothing that the other wanted, except at a prohibitive rate of exchange. Everyone though would take silver, so now those parts of the world that ran a ‘deficit’ in primary products or manufactured goods with another part could make up the difference with silver.

This was less significant however than the basic fact of liquidity and the creation of a worldwide medium of exchange. Because silver was the monetary metal of China and India and the rest of the world wanted Chinese and Indian products, everyone would take silver. This meant that silver effectively became the world’s money and the basis for the first truly global monetary system, even if it only applied initially to long distance trade. The effect of money is of course to make trade much easier by removing the need for barter and working out through a complex exchange process the rate at which any two products will exchange (grain for porcelain for example). Instead, when the relative value of all products is expressed in terms of the rate at which they exchange for one single commodity (money), it becomes easy to exchange and trade goods by using the intermediate commodity of
money. The costs of trade itself in terms of things such as the time taken to work out and make the trade (transaction costs) are hugely reduced, so again many trades become profitable when they were not before. This also generates money prices that send signals to alert entrepreneurs as to where there are shortages or mismatches of supply and demand.

So the principal impact that the European conquest of the Americas had on the rest of the world came about through the way it led to the appearance from the later sixteenth century onwards of a monetary system based on silver that made possible a much more integrated world trade system than had existed even under the Mongols. The date at which we can say that there was finally a truly global circuit of goods and money was 1571, the year when the first of the silver bearing Manila galleons sailed across the Pacific from Acapulco to the Philippines, so connecting the New World to the Asian markets and the products of China and East Asia.

I sort of knew about this already. But, because Davies explains things so clearly, now I know it better.

That bit is preceded by another bit about what the Old World gave to the New World. A lot of diseases, basically. That I definitely knew about.

A crane which is surrounding itself with a building

Time for one of those little photo-clutches that it now makes sense for me to show here. now that my readers can click quickly through them.

When, late last month, I took these photos …:

… I thought I was photoing the fact that neither I nor anyone else would ever again be able to photo The Wheel while walking along Tottenham Court Road towards Centre Point.

But then I realised that what I was really photoing was a crane. And no ordinary crane. A crane that was stuck in the middle of the very building that it was constructing.

I absolutely believe that there is a very good plan for extricating this crane from its self-constructed prison. Upwards, presumably. Because everything about making buildings in London is doe with plans that always go to plan.