Quota silliness

PC Dave Wise:

Is it pronounced Shrewsbury or Shrewsbury?

I asked [the] Shrewsbury Cops but they told me it could be either … or either.

Tomatoes tomatoes potatoes potatoes. Seriously, I thought it was Shrows-bury. But the football commentators all call it as spelt. Which is surely very un-English. I still treasure the moment when an American asked me where Lie Sester Square was.

It’s been a busy day. Still getting that self-isolation thing organised.

Bollocks can also be spelt Bollox

I note with pleasure and gratitude that BMNBdotcom has made it into David Thompson’s latest list of ephemera, because of an earlier little posting here concerning bollocks.

Some while after doing that posting I came across this Sun front page photo, taken the day after the last General Election:

I would have included that in the earlier posting if I’d remembered having photoed it. But today’s also a good day for it, because Friday is my day for animal kingdom related postings. Woof.

Another creature related ephemeron (?) in DT’s list concerns the eagles at the top of the Chrysler Building.

BT Tower reflected – as seen from outside Warren Street Tube

At the top end of Tottenham Court Road, where it hits Euston Road and then bashes its way across Euston Road and changes its name to Hampstead Road, there is some photo-fun to be had, especially on bright and sunny days, with the way that the BT Tower is reflected back from the building on the far side, at the opposite corner from Warren Street Tube. Warren Street Tube being a Tube Station I often emerge from, on my way to Curry’s PC World whenever I need something electrical that i want to look at before I buy it.

Here’s a clutch of such photos that I photoed on June 29th 2015:

I know. They’re vertical, rather than horizontal. Not my usual thing. For which there is a reason, namely: that my cameras, Windows and my graphics programme don’t see eye to eye when vertical photos are involved. So, I had some sorting out to do with these photos, but I made it work eventually. But that’s also why I’m only posting this clutch of photos now rather than in 2015. Clutches of photos (reprise) used to be very complicated, and any further complication, like this vertical nonsense, I just did not need.

Some of the above photos, the bottom middle one especially, feature another building besides the BT Tower. That’s because the windows that stuff is being reflected in are at a 45 degree angle to the ones where the BT Tower is to be seen. This is clear from photos 3, 4 and 6, and especially if you look at the top of the building. Which might be why photo 5 is definitely my favourite of these. I often, as here, like it when the photo is a bit of a puzzle. What’s happening here? But I also like to try to say what is happening, which is why I include the other five. That way it’s a puzzle, but a puzzle solved.

I also like that effect you often get with reflections, which is that the sky is blue with any clouds being clearly visible, in the reflected bits, but bright white when you look straight at the sky. The human eye sees both as sky, by altering its light setting as it scans the scene. Cameras can’t do that. Or not nearly so easily. They need graphics package help to communicate that kind of thing.

By the way, when I categorise something as “reflections”, that means literal reflections, of light. I’m not claiming that I am myself “reflecting”, any more deeply than usual. Maybe I am, maybe I’m not. Different argument.

The artistic retreat from beauty

Like many people, I like photos like this:

Not photoed by me. I wish it had been photoed by me. But, not.

It makes me think of David Hockney, who also likes leafless trees.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again (ISIBAISIA): Artistic fashion often goes where it goes not because it is leading us all into some new and exciting artistic domain, but because it is retreating from an area where it can no longer make any sort of living. Example: beauty. Of the sort you see in the above photo.

Googling is good for things describable with a single word. But something like the idea that artists now hate doing beauty is a bit harder to track down. Google tends to fixate on one of the words you use and ignore all the others until it has told you everything it has on, you know, “artists”. Then, keep scrolling, and soon you will be learning of everything there is that you can read about “hate”. The closest I could get to what I wanted was a piece at the Tate Gallery website, entitled JJ CHARLESWORTH FINDS BEAUTY, ALONG WITH A SUNNY VIEW OF THE FUTURE, TO BE SOMETHING OF THE PAST.

I agree with JJ CHARLESWORTH that artists who reject beauty do this partly because they have a gloomy view of the future. But, ISIBAISIA, there’s surely also the fact that all of us now have machines on our persons which can crank out beauty on a daily basis, immortalising everything beautiful that we encounter that we wish to immortalise. Click. And if we can’t even be bothered to do that, plenty can be so bothered, and now pile their efforts into the great global photo-gallery that is the internet, that of course being where I got the photo that adorns this posting. What chance does the average artist have when up against all that? No wonder they prefer ugliness, ugliness so ugly that the Daily Mail will supply free publicity for it, “conceptual” art, painting with shit and piss, and such like. Oh, an artist can add beauty of the sort that a regular photo won’t add, but they can’t add enough extra beauty to justify all the extra bother. And especially not in the age of photo-processing software, which can add beauty. Now, picture-making software can enable you to create beauty.

Hockney, of course, is not an average artist. He is exceptional. He is in the top one per cent. He can paint whatever he likes, and people will still pay him lavishly for it. He can even sell his photos. But for his pains, all the official art people now agree that he is very passé for still doing beauty.

So, the artists have retreated out of beauty. They call it an advance, but they’re not fooling me. And now that I’ve explained this to you, they aren’t fooling you either.

ISIBAISIA

ISIBAISIA stands for “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. As I get older, I find myself wanting to use this phrase more and more, hence my need for an acronym. Which, I note, other persons are already using also.

Anyway, the latest thing that I’ve said before and now find myself in the process of saying again (while linking back to the first version) is something which you will encounter if you scroll down in among this, at Samizdata, namely this:

Recently there was a comment thread here about modern art, about how ghastly it is, how badly it bodes for Western Civilisation, etc. etc. But I believe that to be as pessimistic about the future of the West as some of those pessimistic commenters were, merely because of a lot of stupid abstract paintings, is to fall into the trap of regarding artists in the way they like to regard themselves, as a vanguard of civilisation (an “avant guarde”), rather than as mostly a rearguard. You simply cannot understand Modern Art without appreciating that it takes place in a technological space first developed by, and then abandoned by, the industry of making pictorial likenesses. Abstract art is, in many ways, a rationalisation of the fact that likenesses are now no longer demanded, on the scale of former times, from “artists”. It is primitive picture making, done in a part of town that used to be very grand but is now either stuck in genteel poverty, or in the other kind of poverty: a slum.

Old school art was a business as well as an “art”. …

Painting used to do likenesses. And the new point I am in the middle of making, in the next posting here, is that painting used to do beauty. But photography is now doing beauty also. (Expect a beautiful photo-illustration.) So painting has retreated out of that too. Art doesn’t “advance”. It merely ducks, weaves and accumulates, piggy-backing on technologies developed by more business-like businesses.

A cricinfo commentator muses wisely about the nature of language

Snatched from the cricinfo online text commentary on this cricket match yesterday:

Hugh: “@ Dez, Spelled is perfectly acceptable, as well as spelt. Like lit and lighted. In any event the thing about language is, if you’re understood then it’s served it’s purpose. Thing with grammar pedants, they’re typically not the brightest.”

Wisely, aside from that last bit of abuse, which I only sort of agree with. Language keeps on changing. Just enjoy it, every so often having a LOL about it.

Over a lifetime, one’s attitude to language changes.

First, teachers (not always of the brightest sort) tell you what language definitely, definitively, objectively, carved into the fabric of the universe, is. Apostrophes so, “literally” literally means literally (which I still think it should (which it literally now does not for many people)), its is different from it’s because blah blah blah, blah blah blah is not correct stop it once, blah blah blah.

Second, you watch people literally driving a tank through all those and similar carved-into-the-universe rules (literally driving an actual fucking tank (and swearing (which is also objectively wrong))), and putting things like “)))” in their blog postings, and generally being wrong.

Three, you relax and realise that it was ever thus. Language always changes. Metaphors mutate into … words, often spelt wrongly. Lines get towed, and well, boo hoo, so what. Like the man said: “If you’re understood then it’s served it’s purpose.” And although that second “it’s” there, according to the pedants who taught me about it’s/its, should have been its, I actually think that spelling it it’s make at least as much sense.

And, I know I know, you can’t carve something into fabric; that would destroy it. But, you got the message.

Private Kissinger

Here is one of many fascinating little details from Snow & Steel by Peter Caddick-Adams (pp. 662-663), which is about the Battle of the Bulge:

[T]he town of Krefeld, a port lying on the west bank of the Rhine and north-west of Dusseldorf, had fallen to the US 84th (Railsplitters) Division, part of Simpson’s Ninth Army. Order needed to be restored to the town’s 200,000 inhabitants quickly, so the only GI in Divisional Intelligence who spoke German (the rest knew French) was promoted to become Administrator of Krefeld, in charge of everything from gas, water, power and transportation to garbage and hunting war criminals. The fact that he was a mere private mattered not; within eight days he had rebuilt Krefeld’s civilian government: the name of this multi-talented individual was Henry A. Kissinger.

That this book contains so many small pleasures like this one is all part of why it contains so many pages.