A tax infographic about and a meeting at my home about Hong Kong

Dominic Frisby:

Frisby says that Dan Neidle will like this. I don’t know anything about Dan Neidle, other than this. But I like it. As much for the colours and its hand-done nature as for its content.

Concerning Hong Kong, last night I semi- (as in: still to be solidified and date still to be settled) signed up a Hong Kong lady to speak at one of my Last-Friday-of-the-Month meetings, about how Hong Honk is demonstrating back, so to speak, against the Chinese Government’s plans to subjugate it.

I warned her that my meetings are not large, and not as a rule attended by The World’s Movers and Shakers (although such personages do sometimes show up). But that didn’t bother her, or didn’t seem to. She seems to understand instinctively that big things can come out of small gatherings, if only in the form of one suggested contact or one item of information.

Alas, Hong Kong’s era of low and simple taxes is now under severe threat, along with many other more important things.

A musical metaphor is developed

In this blog posting, someone called Judge Ellis is quoted saying, somewhere in America, some time recently or not so recently, in connection with something Trump-related, this:

“You don’t really care about Mr. Manafort’s bank fraud – what you really care about is what information Mr Manafort could give you that would reflect on Mr. Trump or lead to his prosecution or impeachment.

“This vernacular to ‘sing’ is what prosecutors use. What you’ve got to be careful of is that they may not only sing, they may compose.”

Good expression. Never heard it before, although it must have been around for decades.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Wet riser inlet

While I’m on the subject of One Blackfriars, as I was last night, here is a rather charming piece of urban sculpture to be seen outside its front door, photoed earlier on the day I photoed the photo in the previous posting:

I’ve heard this expression but never understood what it was about. Having read this, I now understand it a bit better:

Wet risers are used to supply water within buildings for firefighting purposes. The provision of a built-in water distribution system means that firefighters do not need to create their own distribution system in order to fight a fire and avoids the breaching of fire compartments by running hose lines between them.

Wet risers are permanently charged with water. This is as opposed to dry risers which do not contain water when they are not being used, but are charged with water by fire service pumping appliances when necessary.

Part B of the building regulations (Fire Safety) requires that fire mains are provided in all buildings that are more than 18 m tall. In buildings less than 50 m tall, either a wet riser or dry riser fire main can be provided. However, where a building extends to more than 50 m above the rescue service vehicle accesslevel, wet risers are necessary as the pumping pressure required to charge the riser is higher than can be provided by a fire service appliance, and to ensure an immediate supply of water is available at high level.

Blog and learn.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

New Big Thin Things in New York

A friend has put this photo that he photoed on Facebook:

If he objects to me using it, I’ll take it down, but I doubt he will.

It illustrates two things.

(1) The arrival of a new kind of skyscraper, the Very Thin Big Thing.

(2) How much less of a nuisance trees are, photographically speaking, when not smothered in stupid leaves. As it is, that photo is a fine addition to the Winter Tree With Big Thing Behind It photo-genre, which is a photo-genre I like a lot. With leaves, it would be significantly duller.

Here is a Guardian piece which explains why these Big Thin Things are now happening in New York. I now intend, although I promise nothing, to do a Samizdata piece in which I expand upon this circumstance. Clue: the provisional title of this piece is “Law and liberty in New York”. The point being that clear law says exactly what you may not do, but by so doing, it also says exactly – exactly – what you may do. Unlike in Britain with its insane “planning permission” system, where you just have to hope that some random assemblage of local tyrants doesn’t take against the plan you’ve been working on for months, and where there’s now no way beforehand of guessing what these tyrants will decide. In New York, if you follow the rules, you know you are allowed to build it. Result: well, New York.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

A classic episode

Well, I sat down to do a blog posting for here after a hard day doing this and that, but, while I was doing that blog posting, I was also half telly-watching, and I chanced, on my television, upon the classic episode of Porridge in which Fletcher keeps on being disturbed and ends up pushing the padre off the balcony (into a safety net). Fletcher gets punished with three days in solitary, and the final line is him asking the governor if he couldn’t make it a fortnight.

Instead of a regular blog posting, let this be a recommendation.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Neo Bankside residents lose battle to stop Tate Modern visitors looking into their flats

Here. The verdict is: They knew what they were moving into. They should install blinds or net curtains.

Or, turn the viewable-from-the-Tate-Extension living rooms into art installations. The judge didn’t say that; I’m saying that now.

I’m rather surprised by this verdict, but also pleased. Because this is now one of my favourite London photo-spots, and there is lots to be seen looking south, besides into other people’s living rooms.

From this spot I have photoed many, many photos, of which these are just four, taken in July and August of 2016:

Those photos all illustrate the problem that the flat-owners now have.

But, this next little clutch of photos, taken at the same time, illustrate what could be another answer:

In these photos, what dominates is the way that light, rather than coming through the window from those living rooms, is instead coming from outdoors London and bouncing off the windows. At the time I took these photos, I was thinking about that (to me) rather appealing crinkly brick surface that this Tate Modern Extension is covered in.

But now, it seems to me that I was photoing another sort of answer to the problem that these flat-dwellers now have. Could the glass windows be replaced by glass that is more reflective of light, while still letting the outside view in? Or, could the existing windows have some sort of plastic film or sheet stuck on them, preferably on the inside but maybe on the outside, that would contrive the same effect?

A problem stated is often well on the way to being a problem solved. The judge said: It’s up to you to stop the light bouncing off the interior of your home from zooming up to the onlookers at the top of the Tate. You knew this was going to happen. Sort the problem yourselves.

It will be interesting to see how things change with these windows, and inside these living rooms, in the months and years to come.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Total Surveillance photos

Following yesterday’s very generic, touristy photos of the Albert Memorial (although some of them did involve a breast implant), here is a much more temporary photo, of the sort most tourists wouldn’t bother with:

You obviously see what I did there, lining up what looks like a big, all-seeing eye with a clutch of security cameras, cameras made all the scarier by having anti-pigeon spikes on them.

And what, I wondered when I encountered this in my archive, and you are wondering now, is the provenance of that big eye?

Turns out, it was this:

So, not actually a photo about and advert for the Total Surveillance Society. It merely looked like that.

However, just two minutes later, from the same spot of the same electronic billboard, I took this photo:

So as you can see, the Total Surveillance Society was definitely on my mind. Terrorism, the blanket excuse for everyone to be spying on everyone else. The two minute gap tells me that I saw this message, realised it was relevant, but it then vanished and I had to wait for it to come around again. Well done me.

According to the title of the directory, and some of the other photos, I was with a very close friend. A very close and very patient friend, it would seem. Hanging about waiting for a photo to recur is the sort of reason I usually photo-walk alone.

I took these photos in Charing Cross railway station on April Fool’s Day 2009. I would have posted them at the time, but in their original full-sized form, they unleashed a hurricane of messy interference patterns. But just now, when I reduced one of them to the sort of sizes I use for here, those interference patterns went away. I thought that these patterns had been on the screen I was photoing. But they were merely on my screen, when I looked at my photos. And then, when I resized all the photos, it all, like I said, went away. Better late than never.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Photo-edited from zero to hero

I remember, during the reign of President Bush Jnr., how I used to blog about how photography was used to glorify President Bush. Well, here’s another political photo of a rather similar sort, which has been an open window on my computer for some time:

What I find entertaining about this photo is the extreme contrast between the clearly very humdrum appearance, for real, of the old guy in the photo, and the way that (I suspect) pushing just one Photoshop button has turned this same guy into something almost heroic.

The headline above the photo is telling:

The most consequential conservative leader of the century? He’s still alive, in office and owed an apology

The old guy in the photo-edited photo is US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whom the Tea Party people used to regard as a waste-of-space sell-out, but who is now being lauded to the skies by the Trumpsters.

Says Jewish Chronicle writer Marc A. Thiessen:

While President Trump deserves credit for making outstanding judicial nominations, long before Trump declared his candidacy McConnell was laying the groundwork for a conservative transformation of the federal judiciary. It was, he told me in an interview last week, “entirely premeditated.”

McConnell reminds me of a particular American actor, whom I recall having seen in a number of movies. Trouble is, that actor is the sort of actor you recognise the face of, but whose name you never quite register. It’s that sort of face.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Possible blogging interruptions

Because of how my life is going to be for the next week or so, there may be interruptions to the daily stream of blog postings here, daily in the sense of being something every day however trifling or banal, and daily in the sense also of me doing something before every bed time.There may even be no postings at all, for the next clutch of days.

This particular blog posting is being done before bed time tomorrow evening, and also before bed time this evening. But after midnight, which means it can either be backdated to today or left to date itself as tomorrow, the latter option being the one I select now. All of which is within the rules I choose to go by.

But, be warned. Maybe there won’t be any interruptions. We shall see.

Meanwhile here is a rather randomly selected photo, taken last summer, of the old version of New Scotland Yard in the process of being deconstructed …:

… to make way for this. So far, this (see previous sentence) has yet to become visible. It has yet to show, as they say of pregnant ladies.

In a perfect world, the traffic light in my photo would have displayed a number, denoting the number of seconds that will elapse before the light turns red. But this is not a perfect world, as you have surely noticed on the basis of similar – maybe worse – circumstances that in your life you have experienced. The traffic light had already turned red.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Fox in SW1

Indeed. Last night I was walking somewhat exhaustedly from St James’s Park towards Victoria, and this took me along Petty France, which is where the Ministry of Justice is to be found. This is the one that used to be the Home Office and which looks like an Eastern Bloc Embassy. And in Petty France, right next to this Ministry of Justice, I spotted this:

Yes, an urban fox. You expect to see such beasts in the more sprawling London suburbs, the sort that contain lots of open spaces and vegetation. But not trotting along the pavement, right past a major government ministry.

It was getting dark rapidly, and for some idiot reason I had set my camera to make movies instead of regular photos. But that did at least mean I could pick out a less bad still shot.

Luckily, the quality of the photo is not the point here. It’s the principle of the thing. Cats and dogs, yes. (At first, I thought that this fox was a cat.) Horses, carrying policepersons, exercising themselves in between riots. Good. Ducks. Pigeons. Herons (see below). That’s all fine. But foxes? That was a real surprise. And a definite first for me, in central London.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog