150 great things about the Underground: Number 122


Photoed by me last night. And explained here. The Metropolitan Line came up with this logo just after the regular London Underground logo was devised. Now this version of it survives, but only on platforms at Moorgate that are no longer used.


In the twentieth century, weird is all it would have been. Then forgotten. Just another of life’s little mysteries. But, in the age of the internet, there are no little mysteries.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

La Taupe

To me, nothing says Abroad quite like a poster, somewhere in Abroad, advertising an English speaking movie, whose English title I already know, with a foreign title that is different, but with all the same star names:

La Taupe means The Mole. I preferred the TV series, but I love this poster. Photoed by me in Paris in February 2012.

As was this, on the same expedition:

In the same directory, I encountered other photos of posters advertising the following movies: Drive (Ryan Gosling), Ghost Rider (Nicolas Cage), Underworld (Kate Beckinsale), and Star Wars Episode 1 (whoever). But in those posters, the titles stayed in their original English. Why?

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

This actually did get my attention

Photoed by me, this afternoon, just outside Acton Central London Overground station:

Time was when I would have completely trusted a blog posting like this one, which says good things about this enterprise. Now I merely trust this blog posting enough to link to it, and enough to hope that what it says is true. I’ve no reason to think that it isn’t, apart from the fact it’s on the internet.

I know what you’re thinking. How can you be sure that I am for real? I am, but I would say that, wouldn’t i?

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

“Attention” that isn’t

This morning, I was half attending to the Test Match. And I was switching back and forth between the Cricinfo page that showed the latest few deliveries with written ball-by-ball commentary (“live”), and the version that showed the complete England scorecard (“scorecard”). I was doing this because I was trying to track how the England stand in progress, being accomplished by Jos Buttler and Stuart Broad, compared to other stands in the innings, and also how Buttler’s personal score compared to other personal scores in the England innings. In the end, the Buttler/Broad stand was the biggest in the England innings, and Buttler was the top individual England scorer. Following a terrible evening yesterday, England had a very good morning this morning.

But this is not a posting only about cricket, it is mostly a posting about internet advertising, and about what I suspect is deliberate deception in the matter of how effective internet advertising actually is.

I know, I know, if I’m not paying, I’m not watching the product; I am the product. But I suspect that I, the product, am being lied about.

Every time I performed one of the above switches, from the “live” version of the Cricinfo test match page to the “scorecard” version, a noisy video advert cranked itself up at my new destination. Silencing such video adverts can be difficult. You tell them to shut up but they just ignore you and carry on shouting, like they own the site, which they sort of do. However, I have discovered a way to silence these adverts. Click on them, and immediately close the window that this click opens. The advert feels that its job is done, and it stops shouting. Its job is to get “clicks” to whatever the hell it was advertising.

But what were my clicks? Were they attempts to learn more about the product in question. No. They were simply me getting the advert to shut the hell up. I paid no attention to the adverts.

How many others have discovered this trick? I can’t be the only one. So, you stick your annoying advert on a popular website. People click on the advert, close the window as soon as it opens, but the people who placed this advert assure the purveyor of the product that the advert got “attention”, from me and all the others who clicked purely to shut the advert up. Because, look how many people clicked on the noisy bloody advert! I did it half a dozen times for several different adverts, every time I switched from one version of that Cricinfo page to the other, which I did a lot. That’s a lot of attention!

No it isn’t. It is a small amount of contempt, for bad-mannered tradesmen shouting at me in my kitchen.

What’s that you say? I’m a libertarian? Yes I am. So, why am I complaining about capitalism?

Try reading my piece for Samizdata entitled “The overheating Samsung S24F356 – and thoughts about why there are so many complaints about capitalism“.

That link there hasn’t been shouting at you all the time you’ve been reading this posting. This is a link with manners. You can follow this link, in silence. Or you can ignore it, in silence. You are welcome.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Adams versus Kaepernick

I enjoyed this Twitterxchange. here.

Colin Kaepernick:

Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.

Scott Adams:

I’m pro-Kaepernick (for his effective protest on a real issue) but this is the worst life advice you will ever see. Develop a talent stack instead.

One of the classic career counselling clashes, the one between meaning and process. There is a distinct whiff of Jordan Peterson in what Kaepernick says, or is said by Nike to be saying.

I’m sort of in between on this one. I’d say: believe in something and develop a talent stack that achieves it, or failing that, something else worth achieving. And I’d add that we all end up sacrificing everything in the end, or at least losing it. We all must die of something. Let it be of something meaningful or at least having attempted something meaningful.

I’m now catching up with Scott Adams, and in particular, am viewing this. I like how Adams’s videos to camera begin with a piece of “simultaneous sip” nonsense, because this means that you don’t have to go back to the beginning when you crank one of them up.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

More Surrey cricket photos

I did a posting about a Big Thing Alignment that I saw when I went with Darren to that cricket match at the oval, and I did a posting about how the last ball of that game looked, two days later, on video.

Now for some more photos I took on the day Darren and I went to day 2 of that game between Surrey and Lancashire.

The very first photo I took that day was this:

I love how, in the middle of that big photo, we see one of those excellent You Are Here signs that you see all over London, and in many other spots, I don’t doubt, in not-London. I really like these signs, and constantly photo them, if only to remind me for later of exactly where Here was at that particular moment.

Of this OCS stand, SteelConstruction.org has this to say:

This is a most appropriate use of steel, in a geometrically complex arrangement, which adds drama and visual excitement to a famous venue.

I was hoping that this OCS Stand, would be as open for people to sit in as it was in the above photo photo, because I have yet to experience the views from the top of that stand, surely as dramatic in their own ways as the stand itself. But on the evening when Darren and I were there, the OCS Stand was shut. Shame. Memo to self: I will photo these views. If I have to make a special trip to the Oval just to ask about that, fine, I’ll do it, and keep on doing it, until they let me up there, preferably on a nice day.

Here is that OCS Stand, as it was looking at the second interval of the day, which happened not long after we got there:

That photo makes the ground look pretty dark, even though the floodlights were on. And it does not deceive. The ground did indeed look dark, to the human eye.

Here is the Pavilion that faces the OCS Stand, which is where we soon moved to:

Some like ancient, and dislike modern. Others dislike ancient, and like modern. Me? I like both, and particularly like it when they are near each other, or (as in this case) facing each other, and I can relish the contrast.

One of the particular charms of cricket grounds – this being especially true of the two big London grounds, the Oval and Lord’s – is that they feature both (fairly (at least in style)) ancient, and (very) modern architecture. In comparison, I find big stadiums built all in one go very dull. I went to a football game at Wembley, and if it hadn’t been for the big arch on the top of it, it would have been totally anonymous. It’s not just the architectural uniformity. It’s also that in a place like Wembley there are no gaps, and you can’t see anything except the stadium. You could be anywhere.

Darren and I, what with Darren being a Surrey Member, sat in those seats at the top, in the middle, and when you look out from there, across at the OCS Stand and to the left and the right of it, you couldn’t be anywhere but London. Here is another view looking to the right, which includes that earlier Big Thing Alignment and several other random Big Things besides:

And here is the view to the left, towards Battersea, where the new US Embassy, just up river from MI6, has detonated a building boom:

But forget the US Embassy. The reason I am showing you the above photo is to tell you how very dark the ground had become. Forget playing cricket. How on earth can you even see anything on that cricket pitch?

But seeing things on that pitch soon became very easy. Quite soon afterwards, observe how very light the ground had become:

The floodlights were blasting away in both of those photos, not just in the second one. Yet, in the first, they were being totally outshone by the paltry remnants of daylight. Only when daylight had seriously dimmed did the floodlights suddenly start to make their presence felt. And even then the sky is still quite light, especially down near the horizon.

I have been to the Oval quite a few times, but don’t recall witnessing the extremity of this contrast ever before. I think it helped that we were looking down on the ground from quite a height, onto the brightness of the ground. But basically, I’ve never been there when it was properly dark before.

The reason the above photo, especially of the people near me to the left, looks like it was taken with flash is because there is another big clutch of floodlights coming crashing into us from off to the right, very nearby.

Finally, here are a couple of photos I took just after arriving at the ground, through the Hobbs Gate, which is behind the Pavilion, on the far side of the Oval from the river, and from me:

One of the more agreeable features of London’s big two cricket grounds – Lord’s especially – is the number of giant photos there are on show, of cricketing heroes present and past. It was the same when I visited White Hart Lane a while back.

Here is a closer-up snap of the Surrey ladies captain, Natalie Sciver:

Sciver lead her team to victory on Bank Holiday Monday in the ladies T20 national tournament. Her Surrey “Stars” beat “Western Storm” in the one semi-final, and then won the final against Loughborough “Lightning”. Lizelle Lee got a century for Surrey in the final, but she got good support from Sciver, and Sciver excelled with both bat and ball in the semi-final, which was a lot closer.

I am fond of emphasising how sport has replaced war in the world’s luckier and richer countries. Long may that trend continue. What these giant pictures emphasise, or so it feels to me, is the local significance of big sports clubs, and the way that, in terms of how these places feel close up, sport is also busy replacing religion. This is especially true now that the other great modern challenger of religion in this kind of way, the cinema, is fading back into a merely domestic past-time. The elaborate imagery. The regular attendance at an architecturally impressive locale. The shared agonies and ecstasies of the assembled congregations. The way that the calendar is carved up into a distinct pattern. To me, it all feels very religious, and I am certainly not the only one to have noticed this. (That link took only seconds to find.)

The Church of Cricket is, I quite realise, but a small sect, these days, at any rate in England, compared to the Universal Church of Football. But the point about sport replacing religion in modern life still stands.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

A view from the Shard

Earlier this evening I did some laundretting, and while I was there, this showed up outside:

I still photo taxis with adverts on them, and I especially liked this one, advertising this..

It made me think of the last time I went up to the top of the Shard, just over a year ago.

So I took a browse through the photos I took that day, and this time around, this one particularly struck me:

That was cropped to confine itself to the one building, and photoshop(clone)ed to resist the dullness of the day and general fogginess of the original.

Part of me wants to say that this is a classic case of the behind-the-scenes bit of a building, a chunk of it that you are not supposed to look at and get all aesthetic about. It is what it is.

But I actually think that this is the facade of the building that the architects of it were most proud. There is an exuberance about this roof, done in the equipment-as-decoration style, that is utterly lacking in the rest of the building. The “official” bits of which are about as dull as dullness can get. They didn’t have the budget to go full Lloyds Building, all over. But they were able to go crazy on the roof, because the politicians whose job it was to tell them to redo the design more boringly didn’t give the roof any attention. They thought they were building a machine for studying in, but only on the roof were they able to go mad with “expressing” that machineness.

I reckon they were delighted that the Shard was later put right next to this block of boredom with a great roof, enabling thousands of folks to gaze down on their favourite bit.. Gotcha, boredom police!

Okay, just a thought, and a thought that could well be wrong. Maybe they really didn’t care how the roof looked. But take a look through these photos of this mostly very dull slab, mostly taken from street level, of course, and see if you don’t share my suspicions.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Big Thing Alignment with an appropriate slogan in the foreground

Photoed by me last Monday, from the train on the way back from Denmark Hill (which is where I also photoed that helipad (better to scroll down to that)):

The train being the explanation for that reflection, on the right there.

At the time, of course, I was merely going for that rather splendid Big Thing Alignment, of The Shard with The City Big Thing Cluster. And at the time, I was merely regretting that it probably wouldn’t come out quite as sharply as I’d have liked, and so it proved.

What I was not going for was a machine in a foreground with the words “REACH FOR THE SK…” on its arm. Presumably reach for the SKY. Which is, I think, rather suitable.

Shame I didn’t quite get all of that little slogan, but I got enough for the photo to be worth showing here.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Ruthless boohoo man

Earlier this evening I was in the City, checking out the latest Big Things, but this posting isn’t about that.

I care just enough about England doing well in the World Cup to have to try not to care, as opposed to truly not caring. Countries like Tunisia are getting better at soccer, and countries like England are getting worse, so today’s game, Tunisia v England, was a banana skin almost guaranteed to embarrass England. I chose early this evening for my City walkabout because the weather forecast was good, but also because if I was photoing in the City, I could forget about this sure-to-be excruciating game.

Fat chance. For starters, I was constantly walking past pubs full of people crying out in unison and in frustration, at England’s evidently imperfect performance. Also, I had my mobile phone with me, and it was able to tell me what the shouting was all about. I tried not to mind when Tunisia equalised with a penalty. I tried not even to know. But I did, because I did.

Also, in one of those urban coincidences, I encountered two further soccer reminders, both involving Dele Alli, a Spurs player who also plays in this England side. These two photos were taken by me within a minute of one another, the first outside Liverpool Street tube, and the second down on the tube platform:

On the left, an Evening Standard headline, all about how ruthless England must be, against Tunisia. Sadly, they ruthlessly missed almost all of the many goal chances they created. Had that other Spurs player, Kane, not scored at the beginning, and then again right at the end in extra time, England would have been humiliated.

And on the right, an advertising campaign which Dele Alli was surely asking for trouble by agreeing to. He is fronting for clothing brand boohoo MAN. This is a photocaption waiting to happen. When England fail to win the World Cup, and they will, quite soon, fail to win the World Cup, Dele Alli will be photoed, a lot, looking unhappy. And the unhappiest photo of all will have the words “boohoo man” under it, in many media outlets. This will greatly benefit boohoo, by getting its name talked about, so I suppose, come to think of it, that the prospect of such coverage has already greatly benefited Del Alli. But I consider this very undignified, even if Dele Alli is already boohooing all the way to the bank.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

More photoers

Yes, in Piccadilly Circus, photoed at the same time as those hair-patting ladies. And this time, you know, just photoers, just photoing photos.

What strikes me is what a good camera I now have. The light was not good. I was there to meet up with someone, not to make the best of some sunny weather, because there was no sunny weather to be made the best of. In the bad old days, when their were two zeroes in the years, most of these photos would have been an unsightly blur. But now, the only thing I worry about is if there are recognisable faces on show:

Once again, I made the selection of what to show here entirely by me liking the photo and you not seeing recognisable faces. No thought was given to what sort of cameras were being used. Which means that what cameras were actually being used becomes interesting and informative, like a small scientific experiment.

Once again, we observe the rise and rise of the smartphone as the preferred way for regular people to photo. There are some Real Photographer cameras to be seen here. And I think there always will be, because there will always be photoers for whom the best possible photos are the thing they want, and the best that a big old clunky machine can do will always be better that what a smartphone can do.

But, thinking about that some more, is that right? Will there actually soon come a time when all photoing is done by little things the size of a biscuit?

And will there then be a Great Grumble from all the Real Photographers – a category which is maybe starting to include me – similar to the one when digital cameras first got going?

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog