How to be optimistic about your own country

Just came across this quote in a posting at the Old Blog, and immediately transferred it across to this blog:

The state of the world is now such that, if you want to be optimistic about your own country, don’t whatever you do look at your own country. Look at all the others.

Wise words, I think, that will bear repetition, hence me repeating them in this posting. They are my words, so I’m biased. I originally wrote them in connection with China’s high speed trains way back in 2011. Miraculously, that link still, or at any rate now, works.

One year ago today: “You cannot do that!”

I love to photo the front pages of newspapers, while in shops from which I also buy things I still want:

And that was the front page of The Times of a year ago tomorrow, June 1st 2019.

The headlines make interesting reading now. Trump trying to stop us getting into bed with Huawei. Bet our politicians now wish she’d listened then.

And, the Lib Dems riding high in the polls. But this was because they had temporarily managed to get most of the Remain vote supporting them. Labour eventually got most of the Remainers supporting them. Meanwhile, the Leave vote was split, but would later unite in voting Conservative.

But most important of all, to me, are the pictures in between those two headlines. That’s Ben Stokes, taking an amazing catch, in England’s opening World Cup 2019 match against South Africa at the Oval, one year ago exactly. Stokes only had to take the catch this way because he at first misjudged it and got himself too far towards it. But who cares?!? He caught it. Video, with Nasser Hussain’s great commentary, here. England went on to win the tournament.

Now, YouTube is showing me the amazing Ashes test-match-winning last wicket partnership, at Headingley, between Jack Leach and … Stokes.

The weather now is perfect for cricket and has been for several weeks. But as of now, they still cannot do that, and we fans are having to be content with memories.

Tiananmen tank man – the small picture and the bigger picture

Someone calling himself hardmaru tweets, of this photo …:

… this:

The full Tiananmen Square tank man picture is much more powerful than the cropped one.

Not sure that’s right. You only get the point of this big picture if you already know the smaller picture. If you didn’t already know that, would the big picture pack such a punch? Maybe this is my bad eyesight asking, but would you even properly see the guy in front of all the tanks?

I don’t know when this big picture first started getting around. But, having seen the small picture many times, I have only now seen this big one. So thankyou
@hardmaru, and I’m glad that both can be seen.

Unicorn island

According to this January report, this has just begun being built, in Chengdu, China:

This great agglomeration of Things was designed by Patrik Schumacher, for Zaha Hadid Architects. (Although maybe that just means that Schumacher was in charge of all the people who actually designed it. I genuinely don’t know about that, i.e. what “designed by” means in a context like this.)

It will be most interesting to see how the relationship between ZHA and China develops in the next few years. Will the above weirdness ever get finished in the above form? I rather doubt it, somehow.

Meanwhile I note with approval that ZHA have managed to make designboom refer to them as ZHA rather than zha, despite designboom’s capital letters phobia (“patrik schumacher”, etc.). There should be a campaign to start calling designboom dESIGN bOOM.

Face masks in London – but not because of Coronoavirus

Remember that Hong Kong demo I photoed in January and belatedly mentioned here at the end of last month? Well, to remind you about that, and about what a nasty government they were demonstrating against, here are some more photos I took of that demo:

In Hong Kong, there was widespread use of face masks long before the Wuhan Flu, to resist another sort of threat, namely government surveillance.

I am pessimistic about Hong Kong, in any run but the longest. But it is possible to hope that the huge burst of negative feeling about China’s government may draw more attention to all the other nasty things they are doing, in China and in Hong Kong, and that this may get in the way of them swallowing up Hong Kong. I hope so.

I have long been noticing face masks, on those rare occasions when I saw one in use in London. Assuming I manage to deploy my camera quickly enough, they allow me to photo people, and show the photos on the Internet in a way that keeps faces unrecognisable. This demo was a target rich environment for such photoing, my wishes concerning unrecognisability being in line with the wishes of those I was photoing.

Sadly, face recognition is starting to see past face masks.

Hong Kong Demo – London – January 19th 2020

The Chinese government has been taking advantage lately of the fact that there is now only one media story, and is now crunching down on Hong Kong. Because now, this isn’t much of a story, compared to the big story.

As soon as the current round of dramas in Hong Kong began, I was pessimistic about the outcome in the short run, and I am even more pessimistic now. The only hope for the HongKongers, I think, is to get back at their tormentors by turning China itself, in the fullness of time, into something far different and far better, which won’t be so CCP friendly. And in the meantime torment their tormentors by making them scared, and angry that they are liable not to be written up very kindly by History. In short, the HongKongers must now settle down to try to win in the long run, along with everyone else in the world who would like China to be less horribly governed and generally a better place and less of a plague, so to speak, on the world.

But, to do my little bit for keeping Hong Kong as a story now, here are some photos I took of a pro Hong Kong demo in London on January 19th of this year, but never got around to showing anywhere, until now. These next few photos concentrate on the messages the demo-ers were proclaiming:

One weird thing though, the demo seemed to be outside this place:

What have the HongKongers got against the Royal Institute of British Architects?

This slice of google mappery explains:

The RIBA is across the road from the Chinese Embassy, and the demonstrators were shoved across the road. I have various guesses as to who made this happen and why, but I basically do not know.

This snake ate a towel and watching it being removed is oddly mesmerising

Here.

LATER: Fox on a Russian lady’s shoulder in the underground.

EVEN LATER: Ducks v locusts. Two problems with this. First, when the ducks have killed all the locusts, would there not then be a swarm of ducks? Oh. This guy got there first.

And second, the claim was that ducks would go to Pakistan to kill Pakistani locusts, but actually, according to an “expert” that won’t work, because there isn’t enough water in Pakistan and the ducks would die.

The Chinese government shoots itself in the social media

Glenn Reynolds, writing about the Chinese government’s handling of the Coronavirus outbreak:

The Chinese government continues to censor news and social media. This not only keeps the rest of the world from knowing what’s going on, it also makes it harder for the government itself to keep track of what’s really happening, as opposed to what underlings are reporting to their superiors.

Interesting way of looking at social media, I think. What this is saying is that the government in the world that is most keen on mass surveillance has totally crapped all over the world’s greatest ever system of mass surveillance, and rendered it useless for that purpose. Ironic, when you think about it.

FaceID

Back in my Alternative Bookshop days, I and my libertarian pals used to joke about things that were both compulsory and illegal. It would appear that face masks in China are pretty close to being that, because of the conflicting demands of plague protection and facial recognition.

But at least, according to this report (at the top of which appears the above photo), I have (when displaying photos like these ones here) been getting how “FaceID” does and does not work approximately right:

Most complaints are about unlocking mobile devices. Apple confirmed to Quartz that an unobstructed view of a user’s eyes, nose, and mouth is needed for FaceID to work properly. Similarly, Huawei says that its efforts to develop a feature that recognizes partially-covered faces has fallen short. “There are too few feature points for the eyes and the head so it’s impossible to ensure security,” explains Huawei vice president Bruce Lee, in a Jan 21 post on Weibo.”We gave up on facial unlock for mask or scarf wearing [users].”

Or have I? The software used by mere people, for unlocking their mobile phones, may not now work if you are wearing a face mask. But what if the governments of the world have graciously permitted themselves to use far better software, which can easily see past a face mask?