True – necessary – kind

I get emails from Christian Michel about the virtual meetings he is still organising. Here is a snippet from the latest such email:

A good friend sticks to this rule – any statement you are making should meet at least two of three characteristics: be true, be necessary, be kind.

Christian then says: “I like it.” I think I like it also. Most of us probably follow a rule like that with all our friends, or they’d not be our friends. But I for one haven’t nailed it down as clearly as that, in words.

Window pane sucker

Today I did the longest walk I’ve done in a month. I could show you a photo from that, but honestly, it would be quite the effort, after all my earlier efforts.

So this, when I got home, was a very nice surprise. GD2S, whom regulars here may recognise from that acronym and who for the benefit of irregulars is a lady friend of mine, sent me this photo that she had photoed, of men at work, with a window pane sucker and a crane:

Manhandling big sheets of glass into place on the outside of buildings is central to what the latest architecture now is, as anyone who pays attention to these things will already know. Typically, these days, the outside of a building is covered in sheets of glass so big that getting them up inside the building would, as likely as not, be impossible. So, the skills you see being applied in the above photo are doubtless finely honed. Especially when you consider how expensive, in cash and confusion, a mistake would be.

Come to think of it, here is a photo I photoed late this very afternoon, illustrating the exact trend I’m talking about:

There, in one photo, is that trend. In the foreground, we see Architectural Modernism from the Concrete Monstrosity era, with its windows all of a manageable size and uniformity and frankly not looking that expensive. Lose one of those window panes and getting another wouldn’t have been much of a bother. But in the background, rising up in the new new iconic style, is One Blackfriars, entirely covered in sheets of no doubt fabulously expensive glass, each sheet a different size and shape, capable of resisting all that the weather can throw at it. I presume that a fabulously more elaborate version of what is to be seen in the first of these photos is how all that glass got itself into place.

But, as of now, I am too knackered to pursue the matter, and if I’m wrong, I’m wrong. Whatever the real story, I still very much like that first photo there. I don’t know where it was photoed Somewhere in London, with an iPhone, is all I can tell you.

I really like all the reflections in that photo, in the regular windows, and in the new window that’s just arriving.

London from the air – in 2005 and in 2020

I’ve written here a few times about London City Island, and how a sort of mini-Manhattan of unspectacular but decent looking apartment tower blocks have been built on it.

Well, here are a couple of aerial shots that show that having happened. Here is how things in that part of London were looking in 2005:

And here is the same view now:

This blog actually knows a couple of people who have regular jobs doing tech stuff, but who also in their spare time own and operate photo-drones, and who sometimes visit London. These two are really good photoers, even if they may not be quite your Real Photographers, in the sense of making their living photoing, all their working life. I wish I could tell you that it was one of them who did the above photos, but actually, these photos were done by Jason Hawkes, who is as Real a Real Photographer as you could ever wish to drool over the photos of. (Besides which, no drones in 2005.)

The above two photos are just one pair of before-and-now, 2005-and-2020, photos featured in this amazing Guardian collection of photos of London from the air, with commentary by Hawkes himself attached. All you can do here is scroll back and forth between one such pair, reduced in size to fit here. If that amused you at all, you really should click on the Guardian original, and then scroll down and click on each photo to get the other version. There are, by my count, thirteen of such photo-pairs.

Amazing.

Although this wondrous Guardian offering is a “mainstream media” story, there is no way that it could be shown in all its glory in a mere newspaper. Was any of this in the actual Guardian, the one done with paper and ink and sold in shops?

Taxi-with-advert photoed in 2005

Indeed. There I was, in 2005, out and about in London, photoing things like this:

… which even by 2005 was fairly routine for me. But then, later the same day, in Battersea, walking beside the River with a friend, I photoed this:

That was with my old Canon A70. But I didn’t get properly interested in taxis with adverts until a decade later. Why not? Don’t know. Ancient cars like that Austin A30 (I think), I was already obsessed with photoing.

The advert in the above taxi-with-advert photo was for a West End Show, which The Guardian approved of. I probably wouldn’t have, because that’s the stand-up and stomp-about-all-over-the-stage-like-a-lunatic comedian Lee Evans there, on the taxi. I found his comedy performances frenetic, in a bad way. He would sweat appallingly when performing. So, it was the comedy of embarrassment, and I was just embarrassed. I didn’t even smile, so I stopped watching him. Is he still doing this?

Perhaps he was better than that in The Producers, having been told to calm it down a bit.

I just googled “casedemic”

A significant slice of my most recent traffic has been coming to these two postings, both of them involving that word. Casedemic. So, I’m giving the public what it wants and doing another such posting. You cannot now switch on a news channel without being told about a surge in “cases” of The Plague, but you are liable to wait in vain to learn how many people are actually dying of it, or even if any great number of people are even seriously ill. I don’t doubt that both numbers are now somewhat more than zero, but there’s a lot of difference between not zero and a lot. I am not the only one to have been noticing this. I’m not the only one who can interrogate the Internet about such matters.

Today, I did what I have been doing each morning for a while now. I googled “casedemic”. And there seems to have been surge in that statistic as well. It has suddenly jumped from around 30,000 to around 170,000. I know extremely little about what a search result statistic like that means in any detail, just as I know very little about what it really means to “test positive” for The Plague itself. But it feels like this could mean something.

Bottom line: When this Plague first became a public Thing, everyone I know was genuinely scared and genuinely anxious to do all the right things, both to protect themselves and to avoid making things worse for others. Now, people are more scared of being set upon by officials, and by people who enjoy tormenting strangers, for failing to go through the correct motions – not muzzling themselves or not staying apart from each other. They aren’t scared of the actual Plague any more.

When I got my hair cut recently, I realised, after the guy had finished, that I hadn’t muzzled myself. I said I hoped this had not been a worry. Oh no, do as you please, was the answer. I cannot even remember if the guy himself was muzzled or not.

Perhaps equally tellingly, I am now suffering in a very mild form a few of what could conceivably be symptoms of The Plague, as one does from time to time. Cough, mild headache, slight aversion to morning coffee, that kind of thing. But, if I were to get tested for The Plague, and if I “tested positive”, then I would perhaps be interrogated about all my social contacts during the last fortnight and obliged to cause trouble for all of my closest friends, friends who have lives they are already struggling to keep on track or to get back on track. Also, I might be put under house arrest. Probably none of that would happen, because the people whose job it might or might not be to inflict such processes don’t have their hearts in this stuff either, not any more. But why take the risk? So, I’m just waiting to get better.

It’s not – repeat not – that people are merely “tired”, as in tired of the actual Plague. Most of Britain’s civilian population were tired of World War II by 1941 at the latest. But, horrible and dispiriting though it was, that was a war that made sense to almost all of the Brits, all the way through, from the day it started in 1939 until the day it ended in 1945, and for that matter ever since. It is – repeat is – that nobody any longer believes that this Plague has been what they first said it might be, and we are tired of being mucked about by people who seem more concerned to retro-justify their earlier panic than to be doing the appropriate thing now. Which would be to say, okay everyone panic over.

By the way, I do think they panicked. I don’t think there’s been much in the way of conspiracy, and certainly not to begin with. Sean Gabb has done a good piece about his, which I noticed because it was Quotulated. Read, as we bloggers say, the whole thing.

LATER: Now (1pm in Britain) the number has gone down from 170,000 to 48,000. So maybe what I caught was what had piled up in one day. Nevertheless, there does seem to be a big uptick, from 30,000 to 48,000.

A sound file with sound advice about photography

Testing testing:

Wow, that worked! First time. A long line with progress on display, just like the real internetters do. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I wasn’t expecting anything that good. Go WordPress.

The sound file is of me picking the brain of my friend Bruce the Real Photographer. His advice about photoing is very clear and down to earth. I did a posting on BtRP way back in 2006, which included this interview. Now I’m trying to transfer that posting across from the old blog to this blog. It’ll be a while yet before you see that, because the photo-presentation angle of that is complicated. But meanwhile, ff you fancy the idea, have a listen.

Progress and the personal touch

The two photos below, taken at Chateau Michael Jennings, remind me yet again how valuable personal face-to-face contact is in an age of radically progressing technology. The irony being that a lot of the technology that is now progressing most radically is all about making such personal face-to-face contact less necessary. But the more such technology progresses, the more valuable it is to be sitting right next to someone who knows how to get the best out of it, and can watch you failing to do that and can correct you. What’s that you say? Zoom? Two problems for me there. One, my regular C20 computer has no camera pointing at me. Plus, I tried to get Zoom going with just the sound, for a meeting, but the damn sound didn’t work. I’ll only get Zoom going when someone clever pops by and helps me do it.

These photos were taken somewhat over a year ago, when Michael was still regularly tweaking this blog, this posting being the one on the screens. They illustrate one of the improvements of this blog over the old blog, which is that (be warned) the old blog didn’t work nearly so well on mobiles or tablets. This one works much better on such modernistical contrivances:

Another friend is due round soon to help me with get the best out of my new Dyson Graven Image, before Winter arrives. I probably could get this working okay by reading the damn instructions. But, personal face-to-face guidance from someone who already knows will work far better.

New robot ship

My thanks to Facebook and Actual Friend Tim Evans for alerting me to this:

It’s Britain’s First Robot Ship. The coolness of that fake-photo is a big reason for this posting, but not the only reason. I am actually interested in robotised transport.

For some bizarre reason I found I was able to read the article linked to above, but then I wasn’t, and so far I’ve only skimmed it.

So what follows is speculation that could well be answered in the very article I’m linking to. But here goes anyway.

I sense a certain confusion about what a robot ship actually is. Is it a ship that is told where to go and from then on makes all its own decisions? Or is it a ship which is just as much commanded by a human commander, but is merely commanded by a commander who is using a radio link rather than being on the bridge of the ship? My guess is that there is quite a lot of the latter sort of human commanding going on. On the other hand, warships don’t like revealing to the enemy things like their location by sending or receiving radio signals, so maybe the ship really can command itself. But whichever it is, I’m impressed.

Ships now have expensive crews. You don’t need an onboard toilet in a car, or beds for everyone, or an elaborate food supply system. But on ships, you need all that and more for that crew. So, not having people on board is a big deal. Especially if you are sending the ship into battle.

But there are bigger issues than toilets and beds and canteens. The more I ponder the contribution of “robots” to transport, in the form of robot cars especially, the more I am sure that everything depends on a predictable and controlled environment, with the necessary infrastructural back-up. The DLR, with its centrally controlled “robot” vehicles, works a treat, because people, at any rate in Britain, are already well schooled in not wandering onto train tracks, and if they do and get themselves killed, nobody blames the trains. But cars in city centres trying to avoid disaster are a different story altogether, as the delay with robot cars is now proving.

And the sea, rather oddly, is a more controlled environment than a city centre. Although sea dramas can be very dramatic, they are mostly dramatic in a predictable way. Other ships are much more tightly policed than are all the things that can happen on the roads in cities. So robot ships, for war and for transport, make a lot of sense. They are yet another fun thing to be keeping an eye open for, during the next few years.

E-scooters on a train

Today, GodDaughter2 and I finally met up with each other. The timing changed again, from yesterday afternoon to this afternoon, but the location was as previously rearranged, Acton Central railway station.

Once in Acton and wandering around therein, I did little photoing. Surprising though it may appear to many regular readers of this blog, I focussed almost all of my attention on GD2 herself. We did take a few photos of each other, but I did little in the way of photoing the many attractions of Acton.

However, once I got into the train back home from distant Acton, normality reasserted itself, and in the train I sneaked a few photos of something I’ve not seen before, namely a guy with an e-scooter, on a train:

I’m surprised I’ve not seen this sooner. I thought I had spotted one a week ago, but the guy said it was a mere scooter.

But this e-scooter was the real thing, and it wasn’t the only e-scooter I observed, as GD2 and I wandered around seeking an eatery, and then a drinkery. I reckon there were about half a dozen, all told, although I wasn’t counting at the time. Including another e-scooter mate of the guy in the picture who turned up just after I took the above photos. But we were all then getting off at the same stop, and I wasn’t able to photo the two of the together.

As a modified version of Lockdown persists, e-scooters are multiplying in London. But will they survive the return of traffic normality?

A rearrangement

Around three days ago, GodDaughter2 and I fixed to meet up, face to face, for the first time since Lockdown began, and before she disappears to the South of France for a month. We agreed on: Royal College of Music, 2pm. I would have preferred somewhere different, like somewhere nearer to where she’s been living over the summer (Acton), because I like having reasons to journey to and photo new places, and because the College is a bit of a walk from South Kensington tube and a walk I’ve now done many times. Also, a couple of hours later would be better, because I’m a lazy old bastard. Plus, I don’t mind long train journeys because I can sit and read a book, undistracted by the Internet, which I don’t do nearly enough of. But what the hell, RCM 2pm it is.

But, this morning, an email from GD2 arrives. She’s running a bit behind, and could we possibly (grovel grovel xxx) make it Acton Central Overground Station, 4pm?

Yes. I can do that. No problem. It’ll be fine.

Whatever I say in such circumstances will sound like a polite lie and a big old sacrifice, even though it’s nothing of the kind. Sometimes, when your Jewish Mother says to you: “Don’t you worry about me, I’ll be fine”, what she really means is: “Don’t you worry about me, I’ll be fine.”