Goodbye to some old friends

One of the many symptoms of getting old is the reluctance to chuck away things that seem complicated and hence undeserving of being chucked away, when they have nevertheless stopped working. No “finding a good home” for them. (What home would want them? They’re not pets.) No ridiculous attempts to get them mended. (Who would mend them, at a cost remotely as low as that of just buying another?) Ho keeping them in case someone might want them. (Who? Why?) Just get rid of them.

And these three gizmos (four if the speakers count twice) all ran out of puff within about a week of one another, after each giving me at least a decade of good service:

The phone is the one that was in my bathroom. I could still hear everything, but suddenly those at the other end couldn’t hear me. The new phone is the same, but black

The speakers were attached to my computer. One of them conked out, even though the other one, with all the knobs on, is still fine. The new speakers, also black, are much bigger and much better. Crucially, they permit me to vary the tone just like the old white ones did, and beef up the base a bit. Many such speakers refuse to do this.

And the little black screen is for watching DVDs in bed. (I like DVDs. Spare me the comments about how you don’t and how you think I shouldn’t.) The replacement is also black. Black, it would seem, is the New Black.

I like that I can memorialise such dead gadgetry with a photo.

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 this recent photo-collection here) in between. (Top right, you can just make out the Millennium Footbridge.) This photo is, as of now, 1500 pixels across, and if all now behaves as it has been behaving, this photo will now look, on your screen, rather less wide:

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.

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.

An advertising agency in Pimlico

A handful of years ago now, Samizdata’s Perry de Havilland and his lady used to live in Chelsea, and that caused me quite often to be walking along the north bank of the River, between, one way or the other, Chelsea Bridge and Vauxhall Bridge. While doing this I of course I looked (and photoed) across the River.

Having recently been pondering how London has been building itself a lot of machines for living in lately, as opposed to more recognisable and truly Big Things, it occurred to me that I might do that same walk between Chelsea Bridge and Vauxhall Bridge, on the north bank, there to look (and photo) across the River, at all the machines for living in that have been and are being built there now, especially around Battersea Power Station.

I have journeyed along the south side of the River, from Vauxhall to the Battersea, several times, to inspect all that turmoil and cranage from closer up. How was all that looking from the other side of the River?

So it was that yesterday afternoon, I walked through Pimlico nearly as far as Chelsea Bridge, but inland rather than beside the River, and then walked back home again, alongside the River.

But before I was even at my Official Designated Destination, there was plenty to be seen and photoed, and because this is Friday, here are some fun humans, semi-humans and semi-creatures whom I attempted, with varying success, to photo, through a very shiny shop window:

Like I said, varying success. The first Dalek photo there decapitates the poor thing, with crushingly bright reflections of the buildings opposite. Only when I raised my camera up above my head, like a paparazzo photoing a celeb from within a crowd of other paparazzi, did I get anything like a proper Dalek photo. Only once I understood about photoing downwards, where the only reflection was of the relatively unlit pavement at my feet, did I get a truly satisfactory photo, of K9. The Daleks, for the uninitiated, were Doctor Who’s mortal enemies, and K9 was Doctor Who’s friend.

But, why the ducks?

More to the point, what was this place? Who was doing what in it?

My second entirely satisfactory photo:

Satisfactory because this was me taking notes, and the notes were entirely taken. “wtf”? WTF?, as the young people now type into their little mobiles. Here we go. They’re an advertising agency specialising in movies of the sort that the creatures in their Moreton Street London HQ window have parts in, and silly theme parks based on similar fun and foolishness, aimed at “families”. Well, those are the sort of projects they boast about, but I dare say they’ll also sell your estate agency for you, if that’s what you want.

I’m pretty sure that the female figure in the red skirt in the background of the second and better Dalek photo is an actual human being.

BMNB quote of the day: Tim Newman on feminism

Yes, Tim Newman:

As I’m fond of saying, modern feminism is largely about encouraging women to adopt the worst behaviours of men.

Tim Newman’s blog, White Sun of the Desert, is not in the list of OTHER PLACES I OFTEN GO TO, at the bottom of the blue permanent information bit on the left of this blog. But these days, I find myself going there often.

The decision to mend my Old Blog, so to speak, by setting up this new version of it, amounted to a vote of confidence in blogging generally. Two friends have currently been making noises about starting new blogs. I’m looking forward to reading those blogs regularly, if they happen.

More generally, it feels like a good time to find my way to other new blogs, that I find that I like, but don’t now know about. I recently made a start by discovering this blog (already mentioned here in this posting).

Safety advice in Nepal

As regular readers of BMNB already know, the BMNB Senior Foreign Correspondent is currently Michael Jennings. His latest item of foreign photo-fun is this:

I know. Ho ho. Johnny Foreigner getting the English language somewhat wrong. My interest is more respectful and serious, which is that it is not just British workers who have become more expensive to kill. This is happening everywhere. Workers are everywhere becoming more skilled and more productive, and employers everywhere are becoming ever keener on them not being killed. Hence all the urging to them to take their own safety seriously.

I bet that in Nepal, scaffolding has recently been getting more abundant and better made.

Google google. Yes, here we go: Nepal Has Been Announced That the Training in the Scaffolding Industry is Showing Improvements. Look at that picture there.

Does Nepal have an edge in the scaffolding trade on account of its expertise in mountaineering? This would make sense.

On how my meetings work

I photoed these photos of my front room last night and today. Last night on the left, during my latest Last Friday of the Month meeting (at which My Friend The Professor (Tim Evans) spoke about Russia), and today, on the right, after I had begun tidying up (but still had a way to go):

I have a theory about these meetings and how they work, which I would like to share with myself. If you want to read along with me, feel free.

A major reason I keep on with my meetings is that they strengthen, or so I believe, relationships between those who attend. They do this by being small. My front room is small, and only a small number of people an fit into it. This means that there is a lot less of that “wandering eye” temptation, as you talk with one person but simultaneously wonder if there are others present more worthy of your attention. In a small meeting, you are basically stuck with who you are with. So, you get stuck into a proper conversation. At a big meeting, a proper conversation with a randomly selected person present would be very good. But, instead, you tend to “circulate”. At my meetings, there is not a lot of circulating to be be done.

When my meetings have a popular speaker who attracts a somewhat larger crowd than usual, as happened last night when around twenty people showed up, another influence cuts in, which is that it becomes very hard to move. You can’t circulate, because there is no spare room to do it in. So, it’s the same thing again. Your best bet is to have a serious conversation with whoever you are sat down next to.

It may be I have overstated the above effect somewhat. But I do think that something like this does happen.

All meetings have their own peculiar atmospheres and dynamics. No particular sort of meeting suits everyone. My meetings seem to attract two types of people. There are the regulars, who simply like them and keep on coming. And, there are those who are busy making connections in the London libertarian scene, having only recently joined it.

There is another influence at work which is also quite significant, which has the effect of stopping a certain sort of person attending very frequently, but I’ll get to that in another posting. Tomorrow maybe? Some time soon, I hope, before I forget.

Singapore architecture

Recently I have become included in the Libertarian Boys Curry Night gang. I know them all. I just hadn’t been having curries (or in my case biryanis) with them every now and again, until rather recently.

During the latest such Curry Night (at an Indian Diner near to me (which turned out to be a good choice (I had a biryani))), one of the Boys showed me some photos of Singapore he’d taken with his mobile, of that huge thing that looks like a set of cricket stumps, for a game of cricket played in hell and painted by Bruegel.

I said, send me one of those, and he did, twice:

I show these photos here, because whatever you think of this Thing, it is certainly of architectural interest, in a misshapen and off-putting sort of way (or so I think).

But more, I show these photos because they actually are rather informative, especially the one on the left. That one especially shows context, in the form of nearby places and other nearby buildings. In general, you get a feel for what sort of place Singapore is.

In Real Photographer photos, you get buildings like this looking super-cool and super-glamorous, in other words not how they actually look like when you get there.

I’ve said it before and will say it again now. Real Photographers photo photos that are super-nice. Amateur photoers often photo photos which tell you more about what a place is actually like. So it is, I think, with these photos that my mate Tom took.

My low opinion of this Cricket Stumps Thing is perhaps shared by whoever compiled this list of 10 Super Cool Buildings in Singapore You Might Not Have Noticed Before, because The Stumps are not included. That’s because you’ve probably already noticed them, rather than because it’s ugly. But the implied point of the list is: we have other and cooler buildings, besides and unlike The Stumps.

One of the Cool Buildings in this list is something called the “Interlace” Apartments, which is that pile of blocks of flats, all rectangular and each very boring, but piled up like a child’s set of big wooden bricks, all at angles to each other. There’s a photo of this Pile of Bricks in the list, of course. But I prefer this aerial photo of it, that I found elsewhere, and which I’d not seen before:

Once again, you get context. So I’m guessing: photoed from an airplane by an amateur photoer.

Tom’s photos of The Stumps were not photoed from an airplane, but rather from a nearby building. You can tell this because both were photoed from the exact same spot, but the clouds are different. Ergo, he was still when he photoed them.

Ladybower Reservoir and its bridge

A lot of my postings here feature photos I photoed quite a while ago, which I decide that I at least want to remember a bit better than I otherwise might. Well, here’s another such, of a reservoir in the Peak District. This photo also features an excellent bridge, which carries the delightfully named Snake Road across the reservoir:

Alas, I didn’t photo that. 6k did, in September 2017. I got to see this photo by scrolling down at the 6k flickr collection, until I chanced upon it.

I then searched for “ladybower” at the 6k blog, and found my way to a posting from 2015, recounting how 6k had visited the same spot with his father, and linking to an earlier flickr directory, which contains other views of this same reservoir, this time including views of the dam which brought it into existence.

It looks like the sort of place where these guys would have practised, although actually, this reservoir was not on their list.