I only started deciding what to put here today quite late on. What should I say here today? Then, to rescue me, incoming from Patrick Crozier, telling me that our latest recorded conversation is now up, at Croziervision. Once again, we are to be heard worrying about what caused World War 1 to start.
Everything depends now on the cost. Can you get further, for less, with one “filling”? If so, then there follows the rapid switch, followed presumably by a price hike (to stop regular electricity bills going through the roof and (worse) regular electricity supplies being buggered up and to encourage popular demand for new power stations (surely including nuclear)), followed by the slow but sure demise of the petrol car.
I take the point made in the comments on the earlier posting about how this will cause demand for electricity to rise. Nevertheless, a step-by-step process is easily imaginable, unlike with electric scooters going more than trivially faster than regular scooters. Electric scooters of a speed worth bothering with will require infrastructural upheaval. The difference between building this charging station, and that power station, repeatedly, each in just the one place, and on the other hand re-building the entire road system, all gazillion miles of it, to the disadvantage of all larger vehicles (definitely including electric cars), at huge expense, is all the difference.
I haven’t been getting out much lately, so am instead exploring my photo-archives.
These from March 24th 2012, when I journeyed (and not for the first time) out east to the Victoria Docks, in the vicinity of the then-under-construction Emirates Air-Line, which is that strange ski lift that goes across the River:
As you can see, I especially like the cranes. And the barbed wire. There were even pylons to be seen. Best of all is that newish (-ish now) footbridge.
I used to love that place, and especially then, with all manner of new stuff going on. Memo to self: go back and see how things there have changed. Because, they have surely changed quite a lot.
And this could be the biggest change of the lot. Apparently, spurred on by TikTok, people have recently been riding on the ski lift in large numbers. There’s a first.
Arts & Letters Daily sent me to this piece, by Mark Bauerlein, about the study of literature in American universities. It made particular sense of way that the descent into wokeness was not one single process, but a series of processes.
Quote, from near the end:
Fifty years ago, a university couldn’t call itself “Tier One” unless it had a renowned English department. No more: Abysmal enrollment numbers in the humanities at such universities prove the irrelevance of literary study. My colleagues around the country bemoan the decline, but they blame the wrong things. English did not fall because a bunch of conservatives trashed the humanities as a den of political correctness. It didn’t fall because it lost funding or because business leaders promoted STEM fields. It fell because the dominant schools of thought stopped speaking about the truth of literature. Once the professors could no longer insist, “You absolutely must read Dryden, Pope, and Swift — they are the essence of wit and discernment”; when they lost the confidence to say that nothing reveals the social complexity of the colonial situation better than Nostromo; if they couldn’t assure anyone that Hawthorne’s sentences showed the American language in its most exquisite form, they lost the competition for majors. Students stopped caring about literature because the professors stopped believing in its promises of revelation and delight.
Meanwhile, outside of universities, the internet has made it massively easier to study literature, and also have a life beyond and beside that, not least because it’s now so much easier to get hold of whatever books you want.
I’m sure, if it’s taught inspiringly, that it’s much more fun to study literature in the face-to-face company of like-minded enthusiasts. But it’s not essential, the way it is if you want to become something like a structural engineer. And if you do want to meet up with fellow enthusiasts, the internet is good at arranging that also. I have organised monthly meetings for nearly half of my life and the admin for this got a lot easier when email, and then the internet, kicked in.
My spell checker says “enrollment” in the above quote ought to be “enrolment”, but I’ve left it as was.
And I don’t mean creatures to be seen in the fields of London. I mean creatures to be seen in a particular place in London called London Fields. Until recently, I knew London Fields only as the title of a Martin Amis book.
But, earlier this month I journeyed out to London Fields, to see it and to meet up with a friend.
And I photoed creatures.
The creature with the devilish horns being the bit that particularly interested me. The rest is, to me, incomprehensible.
Even more impressive, creature-wise, was this:
In this we observe two creatures combining to mimic a third creature. Rather good, I think. I wouldn’t want to shrink it and have it permanently on a wall in my home. It’s not that good. But I like that I could photo it.
Here is the original photo from which the above square was picked out, which included a human:
London seems to be divided into places where this sort of thing is allowed, and even encouraged, and the far greater number of places where it is very much not allowed. I live in the latter sort of place, which is duller, but maybe also safer.
London Fields, the book (see above), is a tale about a murder.
I just received an email from Dominic Frisby, plugging his latest aria video, which is entitled I Love Wetherspoons! State of the art culture warfare, which I highly recommend. The aria, not Wetherspoons. I’m not saying that I don’t recommend Wetherspoons, merely clarifying the point I am and am not making there.
So far so good. But the best moment, for me, came right at the end, when I was offered the chance to sample another Frisby musical delight, in the form of something called …:
… Oh, Bollocks.
This is an English word I resort to regularly, and have also already talked about here quite a lot, one of my favourite examples of this word in action being this one, involving taxis. Very satisfying to see bollocks identified by my favourite Dominic as an important English usage. The word communicates a subtle mixture of regret, defiance and hence, consequently, perhaps even a dash (because you never know your luck) of triumph.
The scene with the Angel of Death, right at the end of this video, spoke to me with particular force, what with that personage having recently sat himself down next to me.
Michael Jennings, who is the technical curator of this blog, likes cheese, so maybe he can tell me how I managed to photo this photo:
The thing is, I remember seeing this in front of me recently, just as my train was about to depart from Victoria, and I photoed it, going to a bit of trouble to get it nicely lined up. But the train departed before I was able to discern what the original origin of the message was. “INTERNATIONAL” is just about decypherable from my photo. “CHEESE” is definite.
But who or what was promoting INTERNATIONAL CHEESE? Google google. It’s this. It’s a shop, at Victoria Station. That’s got to be what I photoed.
The Tripadvisor reviews at the other end of that link are what you might call “mixed”. I no longer trust the Internet when pseudonymous people review products, so that severely negative review first up means, to me, nothing.
Regular BMNB commenter Alastair James, noting my growing liking for 22 Bishopsgate, just sent me this photo, taken by him from Finsbury Circus:
That’s 22 Bishopsgate looming up behind Tower 42, the NatWest Tower that was.
It so happens I photoed this same Big Thing Alignment from pretty much the exact same direction, back in 2018, when 22 Bishopsgate was still being built:
Finsbury Circus is nearer to these Big Things than where I was when I photoed the above.
If you photo a Big Thing behind a not so big thing, the paradoxical effect can be that the Big Thing actually looks smaller, the nearer you are to it, because even a quite small thing makes its presence felt if it is in the foreground. Get away into the distance, and the bigness of the Big Thing becomes a lot clearer.
This effect is not particularly clear in the above photos, despite the difference in distance. But I did a posting on Samizdata, in which a church totally hides the Big Thing behind it. And that Big Thing was: The Shard.