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.

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.

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.

Boris pater mixed metaphor alert

Incoming email with mixed metaphor and Other creatures news:

Stanley Johnson, Boris pater, on Sky News this morning re Brexit deal: “We’re barking up the wrong horse …”

From GodDaughter2’s pater Tony, to whom thanks. Tor the benefit of anyone reading this who never did Latin, pater means Dad.

Stanley Johnson is an I’m A Celebrity celebrity, it would seem. Or was.

There ought to be an equal and opposite response to this, along the lines of “riding the wrong tree”, but that doesn’t sound quite right. “Jumping trees”? Still not sounding right.

As for Brexit, I personally, I hope that if Boris is the next PM, he doesn’t jump trees. And I think we can all agree that Prime Minister May has been barking up the wrong horse ever since she got the job.

Battersea gallery

Yesterday evening I walked over to Battersea, to see how things are going with surrounding the old Power Station with apartment blocks, with sorting out the western end of London’s Big New Sewer, and constructing a new tube station.

In the photos that follow, I concentrate on the new blocks of flats, not least because it is easier to see that, what with it having reached the stage of mostly now being above ground. Tube line and sewer construction remains largely hidden throughout, and in general they tend to be more secretive about such things.

So how are things going with all those flats? How things are going is that there is a lot of building going on, but also, already, a lot of living.

The earliest photos in this gallery show the part where they say: come on it. This is already a place, with people, and food, and a road through to other parts beyond. Then, you walk along one of the oddest bridges in London, over and through what is still a giant building site, right next to the old Power Station, and then you arrive at the bit that is finished and already containing people.

None of the photos that follow are individually that fascinating. But click, click, click your way through them at speed, and you’ll get an idea of how this passing moment in the history of London is now looking:

The photos that concentrate on life being lived, rather than merely dwellings being constructed, concern the London Seafood Festival (that being the only link I now have the time to contrive), which I had definitely not been expecting. But many others had, and were gathered in large numbers to partake.

Then I made my way to Battersea Park railway station, with the last two photos having been photoed from the train that took me to Victoria Station on the other side of the river.

My larger point is this: that the newest and most noticeable London architecture has now done a switch, from the erection of individually crafted and highly visible and recognisable Big Things, to the mass production of generic Machines For Living In and Machines For Working In. So many office blocks and blocks of flats of a certain height, all jammed together in a formerly not so very desirable location, each higher than low but each lower than really high. So much concrete and steel being hoisted into the air by so many cranes. And so many people all being crammed into these new dwellings and new workplaces, as they beaver away at their desk jobs nearby or in The City, and relax by the river in their numerous new eateries and drinkeries down on the ground floors. Yes, this kind of thing has been going on in London for many decades, but just lately, it has shifted up a gear.

That all these new Batterseans will be within walking and face-to-face talking distance of one another is bound to have creative consequences. All sorts of new urban possibilities will become possible.

A lot more of this stuff has been happening out East, in Docklands and beyond. There too (see especially: North Greenwich) things have shifted up a gear. Battersea feels a bit more upmarket than those places down East.

Welcome to the latest version of London.

The magic of Twitter

Dominic Frisby, at 1.30 am this morning:

Morning all, I am compiling a list of irritating people on the telly (US or UK) for a routine. Would you mind posting below the name of anyone who gets up your nose? The more the better.

PS Please don’t use their twitter handles.

Dominic Frisby, one hour later:

Thank you!

I have plenty.

I’m guessing that the trick of Twittering is learning how to make use of it for your own purposes, without letting it drive you mad. Note in particular the bit about not using Twitter handles. The suggested celebs were not told about this operation. They therefore had no chance to get mad, and then to try to drive Frisby, or anybody else, mad.

When gossiping malevolently, I think it’s always kinder to do it behind people’s backs and without their knowledge. Why by gratuitously hurtful?

Photoing God Save The Queens

In the basement of a club in Soho, soon after I’d photoed that dirty Landrover.

The problem was that I was getting the verbals, but not the image in the middle of the verbals.

The trick, as a friend demonstrated, was: zero in on the image. Cut the verbals out of it:

And if you want both, show both the photos, of the verbals and of the image. And a couple of images of the lesson. Lesson learned.

If you’d been there in person, you would of course have been able to see it all in one go. (But a camera often can’t do that.)

A device for measuring neutrinos being transported through Karlsruhe

Here:

It reminds me of the scene at the end of Starship Troopers (a scene which I may now be imagining (but I think it happened)) where the victorious Starship Troopers celebrate their capture of The Queen Bug.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

A small taste of life without water

On Sunday evening, and then again yesterday during the day, my water supply was interrupted. This has never happened before. Electricity, yes, that has been interrupted, I seem to recall. And once, my hot tank refused to stop heating its water, which was alarming. I had to switch off all my electricity myself, to stop my boiler boiling itself and perhaps exploding like a steam locomotive having a crash. But, no water? That was a new one for me, here.

When my taps first ran out of puff, I didn’t know what was causing this. At first, I thought the problem might be my own personal arrangements, as it had been with that over-eager heating system. But, I knocked on the door opposite and discovered that my neighbour had received an email threatening water disruption, and it all started to make sense. One of our neighbours was having work done which necessitated a block-wide water switch off. This was on Sunday evening, but the email concerned threatened disruption on Monday, disruption that duly occurred.

I wasn’t even completely sure if the water, when restored, would automatically fill up my pipes again, once it had abandoned them. You know how you can get water to to go up and down in pipes, in school physics lessons. What if interrupted water supply created a permanent unwillingness of the water to travel along my personal pipes, to my personal taps?

When the water returned later on Sunday evening, it was quite a relief to see it gushing out of my taps again, of its own accord, with no suction pump needed to coax it back into action. But then, disruption happened again, exactly as threatened, on Monday.

It’s only when you are deprived of something you are used to having that you realise how much you depend upon it. For washing, of me and of the things I eat from and off. For flushing the loo. There was an event I wanted to attend on Monday evening. No go. Unclean.

I had never had anything to do with my lady neighbour before this little water drama. Interesting that things not working properly and “community” go together like this. When the great machine we all depend on stops working, we suddenly become more dependant upon each other, if only to find out what the hell is going on and when it is likely to stop.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

There should be more fake antiquity

I often find the Tweets at Market Urbanism baffling, because they concern obscure American political disputes. But even as I am baffled by the second half of this (what on earth does “filter hard and fast” mean?), I agree with the first half. I also unironically love these:

The Tweet contains a link to this Bloomberg report, which is where Market Urbanism and I got that photo, and which notes (rather gleefully/) that the builder of these things has gone bankrupt.

I do unironically love these gloriously unfashionable little stately homes, but I do not totally love everything about them. Because what is about each one of these fake chateaux, is lots of others that are identical. A lot of the point of living in a building like this is surely that there is nothing else like it in the vicinity. Such a pile should be uniquely recognisable, and architecturally victorious over all the neighbours in the “my house is the poshest” contest. If there is going to be a herd of these things, let there be a bit of variety.

But despite all those nitpicks, I do think that the world could use a lot more fake antiquity of this kind. In particular, I wish more of this sort of stuff was allowed in England. Uninterrupted “honest” modernity can get very dreary, I find. I love those London Big Things that I bang on about here, but a lot of the fun of them is how, closer up, they often tower over buildings erected a couple of centuries earlier.

However, the trouble with newly minted fake antiquity is that this too can look rather dreary and soulless.

When fake antiquity really comes into its own is when it has been around for a while, and people can no longer see how fake it is.

The world seems to be full of well-connected, in-power aestheticians – who demand that every new building be modern, and badly-connected, out-of-power aestheticians – who hate modernity. I want lots of both, all muddled together.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog