Fency

Incoming from BMNB’s Blogmaster Michael Jennings, a while back now, from Foreign Parts:

Like I say, it’s a while since this got here, but it deserves the immortality that is conferred upon photos when they are exhibited here at BMNB.

“Fency” is either a very posh way of saying “fancy”, or it is an indication that a lot of the goods in the store were stolen. Which means they’ll be cheap, which means that you can shop at this store with absolute frugality.

I cannot recall if the accompanying email said where this is. Michael?

Excellent wires!

LATER: Ah, it wasn’t “incoming from Michael”. It was at his Facebook page. Kathmandu, Nepal. I just nicked it. Hope Michael doesn’t mind.

Gallery means that you decide

One of the many things I love about this new WordPress blog of mine is that I can now do things like this …:

… a lot more quickly. Thank you “Gallery”.

All of the above photos were taken within a few moments of each other, in the vicinity of Battersea Power Station, just over a year ago. Then as now, this place was being transformed.

But there is much more involved in the Gallery improvement than the fact that I can shove up a clutch of photos more quickly than before. Equally important to me is that you now have a lot more control than you used to. You can now spend no more time looking at these photos, unless you want to, than I did when I photoed them. You no longer have to choose between having a quick gander at the above snaps, and having a life.

The difference is that, now, you can click on the first photo, look at it for as much time as you like or as little time as you like, and then click on the arrow on the right, and get straight to the next one. Click click click. I know, I’m rediscovering the wheel here, but if you have been depriving both yourself and your potential readers of wheels for about a decade, wheels are a big deal.

Because you can click through all these photos so speedily, I feel comfortable showing them to you in such abundance. These are not oil paintings, unless you want them to be. I don’t assume that you’ll be wanting to linger over these snaps. Feel entirely free to do that, if you feel inclined to scrutinise any of them at any length of time, but I don’t expect this.

An obvious question arises: If I like the idea of you clicking quickly through the above snaps, why not a video? Well, number one, a video deprives you of control. But also, what I find fascinating about photoing is the extreme difference between how a camera sees things, and how the human eye sees things. Basically, a video camera sees things more the way that we humans do. Our eyes, like video cameras, roam over the scene in front of us. They don’t look at the scene once, the way a camera does when it takes the one photo, and nor does a video camera. A video shows us what’s really going on. It goes behind and beyond those mere appearances.

A photo is something else entirely. It’s a photo! And that makes videos, to me, from this point of view, less interesting.

“It depends” is not an answer

Today, the Official Designated Destination for my photo-expedition proved to be a disappointment. So, because I was in the middle of London, I then amused myself by photoing interesting vehicles, taxis and pedal-taxis mostly, but also this:

This lorry interested me because I am a fan of classical music in general, and of classical piano in particular. (My most recent CD purchase, for instance, was this CD of Rachmaninov Preludes. (Very good.))

But how do pianos get transported, when they need to be transported, such as for a fussy pianist playing away, who demands a particular piano that he is already familiar with to play? When I got home, I went to the website on the side of the lorry to learn more.

I went to the FAQ page, and clicked on the following question:

How much does it cost to transport a piano or grand piano?

Here was the reply I found myself reading. It is a masterpiece of silliness, combining as it does uninformative irrelevance with sheer-bloody-obviousness:

The costs for transporting a piano or grand piano depend on several factors. The transport costs depend on the instrument, the distance between the place of loading and unloading, as well as the respective number of levels. For grand pianos, the length is also critical.

And that was it.

There was me thinking it all depended on which phase the moon was in.

The FAQ stands. How much does it cost to transport a piano or grand piano? A tenner? A hundred grand? Give us a rough guess, for the commonest sort of concert grand, on a medium sized journey. Or, give us an example, for a particular piano, making a particular journey from a particular place to another particular place. “It depends” is not, see above, an answer.

Perhaps this is their deadpan German way of saying: If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.

See also, a piece I did for Samizdata about why people complain so much about capitalism. (Spoiler: because it’s fun and because it often works.)

Recently purchased books

Photoed just now:

Although, I should say that I didn’t actually purchase Kristian Niemietz’s book about
Socialism. I tried to buy it, at a recent IEA event, but they wouldn’t take my money and just gave me a copy. It’s very good.

Excerpt from We Now Know, here. Could have downloaded a pdf of the whole thing. But, don’t like pdfs. Prefer books.

There are more that I didn’t include. E.g. one by fake-antiques architect Quinlan Terry that is too wide. (Fake architectural antiques are a good thing. The world now needs more of this. Terry does them very well.)

Memo to self: A habit I must cultivate better is the ability to read a book, while seated in front of my computer, concentrating on the former and ignoring the latter. The internet is just too damn interesting. But books are extremely interesting also, and I love to read them. Or at least: I love to have read them.

I love Amazon. I miss remainder shops.

miwhip?

This afternoon, on my way north from South Ken tube, I encountered these golden little vehicles:

It says “miwhip” on them. Who or what is that? I used to be content to just not know such things, and to forget I ever asked. But this is the age of the internet, in fact it has been for some while, as perhaps you have noticed. And the internet soon obliged.

It seems that “miwhip” is an Uber-challenger, and that if you are lucky, when you whisle up one of the above vehicles, you might instead find yourself travelling in one of these:

The best thing I read in the Evening Standard piece linked to above is that miwhip say they’ll pay their hirelings at the end of each day. If you have any friends hacking away at the coalface that is the gig economy, you’ll know how important that promise is. Provided, of course, that they keep it.

One thing here every day? – Probably Yes (and cranes)

Yes. At the Old Blog, I followed the rule of One Item Here Every Day, pretty much for as long as I can remember, and it worked. Not in the sense that every item was of stellar interest and quality. Far from it. But at least it kept me at it, and ensured that my treasure gang of readers would have something here to divert them, every day, even if they never actually read past the title.

But there were better consequences of this rule than merely that. Quite a few of my better postings were the direct consequence of this rule. I kept on deciding that I had to do something, and ended up doing something quite good. (I doubt this posting will be an example of that, but you never know.)

So, I have in mind that I will keep following that rule here. In that spirit and following this rule, I am now doing this posting.

A regular technique for following the One A Day rule is the Quota Photo. So, here’s one, to celebrate the continuation of this rule:

I photoed this photo at the same time I photoed the first of these two photos.

This second photo, above, featuring crane-on-crane action, makes it clearer that there was actually a man up there, on the big arm of the crane that is presumably still there and hard at work. I presume he was making sure that everything was properly connected, and then disconnected. Truly an Aristocrat of Labour. Whatever they pay him, he’s worth it.

Just kidding

Niece Roz tweets:

Had enough of your relatives already? Don’t just think about murdering them – come along to @scarthinbooks tomorrow afternoon and talk about how you could actually– (Just kidding, Twitter. Just kidding)

Scarthin Books is, alas, in the Peak District, where Roz lives. This is impossibly far away from London, where I live. If she ever holds an event like this in London, I will definitely attend. I will make sure that all present know that she and I are related. Otherwise I will say little. I will concentrate on looking quietly attentive and quietly thoughtful.

Photo of Roz’s second Meg Dalton book here.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Peter Burke’s Assembly at the Woolwich Arsenal (again)

The designated starting point of my walk beside the river last Monday was Assembly (that being a photo of Assembly being assembled), the sculpture assembly outside the Woolwich Arsenal next to the river:

Those are some of the photos I photoed, and they are pretty much the photos everyone else photos of these metal men, and pretty much the same as the photos I photoed when last I visited these men (LINK TO THE OLD BLOG). That was in April 2011. It doesn’t feel like it was that long ago, which I think is because these metal men, once seen, are not soon forgotten.

Assembly is the work of Peter Burke. My googling skills are such that I often have to have several goes at a subject before I find my way to the stuff that I find the most informative and interesting. I can just about remember visiting the Peter Burke website, but I don’t recall ever reading this biography of Peter Burke before. Nor do I recall learning that this Assembly assembly began life somewhere else. Or maybe he did an Assembly for that rural setting, and then did another Assembly for outside the Woolwich Arsenal. Yes, probably that. Burke is big on mass production, like his contemporary and mate (apparently) Gormley.

And, I certainly never watched this video of Peter Burke speaking until now. As with all artists talking about their work, I see rather little connection between what he says about his work and what the work says to me. But at least what he says is mostly accurate, in that he mostly describes how he made it. There is hardly any pretentious art-speak bollocks of the sort that would get him sneered at at Mick Hartley‘s.

A key to why I like Peter Burke is that before he started doing art he was a Rolls Royce engineer, working on aero-engines. He liked and still likes how stuff like that looks. Snap. Unlike me, from then on, he knew how to make it.

But someone could do all the things Peter Burke describes himself doing when he does his art and produce art that says nothing to me at all. Insofar as he does describe what he thinks his art actually means, he pretty much loses me. Which might explain why I only like some of his art, such as Assembly.

What I get from Assembly, as well as the obvious military vibes I wrote about in that 2011 posting, is something to do with stoicism, emotional self-control, being a man, being a man under extreme pressure while keeping your manly cool. Even to the point of looking rather comical while doing all this.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Nuclear Rabbits From Outta Space?

On June 13th 2008 I was wandering about in Quimper, photoing photos. Mostly the photos were of such things as Quimper Cathedral with its twin spires, photoers photoing Quimper Cathedral with its twin spires, that kind of thing.

But in among all those, and with no accompanying explanation (like a context photo with less zoom (memo to self: always photo a context photo if it might help)), this:

KanaBeach seems to be some sort of Brittany based clothing brand (“Kanabeach est une entreprise de vêtements bretonne”), which a few years later seems to have crashed and burned, after which catastrophe it may or may not have made a recovery. (A recovery attempt which involved a giraffe, for some reason.)

But, I have no idea who Jean-Francois Kanabeach is. And I am similarly baffled by the Nuclear Rabbits From Outta Space. Google’s basic reaction to that was, first off, to ask if I meant “Nuclear Rabbits From Outer Space”.

A rabbit was, so it says here, launched into space in 1959. And the Chinese did some stuff on the Moon in 2013, with something called the Jade Rabbit (aka Yutu). But Nuclear Rabbits, from Outta Space? Quesque c’est? Usually the Internet has something to say in answer to questions like this. But in this matter, rien.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Tulip approved

So tweets City AM’s Christian May.

Everybody is now bitching about this Thing, just like they did with the Eiffel Tower. Do “we need” it? Blah blah. Well guess what: I want it. And more to the point the people paying for it and wanting to build it want it.

Although, I did agree with the Dezeen commenter who said that maybe a Tulip is not the sort of thing you want in the middle of one of the world’s great financial districts.

LATER: Julia H-B:

Like all of London’s new skyscrapers, I’ll hate it.*

*Until I love it.

Precisely.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog