Dutch Quality Flowers lorry with antique locomotive

This afternoon, while I was on my way yet again to the Royal Marsden to score my next month’s supply of Osimertinib, a huge lorry drove past me along the Fulham Road, with a painting of a steam locomotive on the side of it:

I display all of these three hastily grabbed and decidedly mediocre photos simply to make it clear that this was indeed a lorry, as well as a picture of a locomotive.

Later, I found myself musing on how the ubiquity of digital photography and of the social media must have transformed advertising. Just as graffiti has become more individual and elaborate, in the age of digital photoing, so too has advertising.

Because, if you can persuade a decent proportion of the digital photoers you drive past to photo their photos, of your unique lorry with its unique and as likely as not hand-done painting on the side, and then get the photoers to stick their photos up on the www, there’s every chance you can save a ton of money on the distribution of your advertising message. Throw in that any word can be searched for on that same www, and you don’t need to bother with big lettering, the way you used to have to to get your message spread around, and you can concentrate on making the image look as great as you can contrive. Use little letters and let the photoers look it up and link to your website and generally spread your word for you. All you need is a sufficiently striking and appealing image, to grab all that attention.

So, by way of emphasising my point, here is the DQF Flower Shuttle website. Go there, and learn that there is a whole fleet of flower delivery lorries, each one flaunting this or that elaborately artistic type picture of an antique form of transport, most of them ships, but one being of another locomotive. I assume that all of these lorries are each of them adorned with unique images, and I further assume that photos of these images are all over the social media. Judging by what happens when you do this, my assumptions are right. Although, I can find no photos of the particular photo I photoed of a DQF lorry this afternoon. This must be a rather new image.

Funerial thoughts

Strange day. I spent a lot of it planning my own funeral, which will, as is traditional, be an event at which I will be present but not paying any attention, if you get my meaning.

The thing is, it’s no good saying: Look, I don’t care, do whatever you like. If you say that, you are liable to cause endless arguments and at the very least uncertainties among your loved ones about “What he would have wanted”. So, you have to say what you want, even if you aren’t actually that bothered.

Plus, although I say I’m not bothered, I can imagine plenty of scenarios which even the thought of would bother me, so a period of introspection was called for. Just saying “Do whatever you want” would be very selfish, in a bad way. Saying exactly what I want is selfish in a good way.

Apparently David Bowie (the old blog seems to be back working again without any
Screen of the Red Death
) had a very private cremation, followed by a more public ceremony at which celebs took it in turns saying how great he was. But not being that great myself, I figure the people present at my funeral ceremony would appreciate knowing that this is the actual funeral. If they suspect that the real funeral, the one I was actually burnt at, was earlier, they might not want to be at the later pretend funeral. So, just the one event for me, and everyone will see me being fed into the incinerator room. It’s what I would have wanted.

And now, my Designated Best Friend is in my front room, chucking superfluous paper into supermarket bags:

Since that photo was photoed, three SIX more entire bags of totally obsolete bumph have accumulated.

In other funerial news, earlier today GodDaughter2, the one who has just finished learning how to sing, accepted the job of being in charge of my pathologically huge classical CD collection, when I am dead and burnt. So, if you love classical CDs, and even if you hardly now know me, leave a comment that this is a list you’d like to be on. Don’t wait for me to die before expressing such interest. Think of my beloved CDs not as inanimate objects but as a colossal pack of puppies each of which I am seeking a good home for. If I can die knowing that my CDs will be well cared for and listened to, rather than just thrown into about three skips, well, … that’s what I would have wanted and meanwhile do now want. GD2 herself leads too mobile a life just now to be wanting such responsibilities, and in any case CDs are, for her, absurdly twentieth century and completely superfluous to requirements. But if you, like me, feel differently, then like I say, get in touch, now.

A good day. Good not merely because it was pleasurable, but because I got some difficult and important things decided and done. And because other such things were done for me, by various loved ones. The least these people should be getting from me is a description of what I would have wanted, even if it is a bit of an effort to work out what that might be.

On how the English revolutionary ideology of improvement took its time

During a recent conversation that Patrick Crozier and I recorded (although as always Patrick did all the button-pushing and editing), about how the Industrial Revolution came about, Patrick asked a question that I didn’t answer at the time but which I think I can now answer, at least in broad brush strokes.

My thesis was and is that the Industrial Revolution was and is the English Revolution. It was an ideological event, sparked by mass literacy, just as the French, Russian and Chinese Revolutions were. (See all my Emmanuel Todd postings.) Patrick pointed out that, unlike those three very political revolutions, the English Revolution, if that’s what it was, sure took its time to mutate into the Industrial Revolution. The political bit of the English Revolution happened in the seventeenth century, but the big impact of the industrial bit of the English Revolution didn’t achieve lift-off until late in the eighteenth century.

At the time, I just said yes, hm, I’ll have to think about that. But now I have, and I think the answer is not that difficult to supply.

The three very political revolutions were successful, not in the sense they accomplished much that was good, but in the lesser sense that they did at least achieve political dominance, after which they did their best to improve things but ended up doing mostly their worst. They were all very destructive in their impact. And this all happened very quickly. Destruction and catastrophe doesn’t take very long to happen.

But the English Revolution stalled politically. The political bit of it ended in a draw, with the old monarchical and aristocratic institutions changing quite radically, but not being destroyed. And so, having failed to make the big breakthrough in the manner of the French, Russian and Chinese ideological breakthroughs, the English Revolution turned its attention to peaceful progress. To “improvement”, to use the word the English ideologists themselves used.

And, improvement takes time. As the English eighteenth century unfolded, presided over by a rather contentious and corrupt mixture of aristocrats and well-connected capitalists, the ideologists of improvement started to achieve actual improvements, step by inventive step. They were creative rather than destructive, and creativity takes time. I say “started”, but in truth they merely somewhat accelerated a process of step-by-step invention and innovation that had already got under way.

And that’s my answer, for the time being. Destruction happens quickly, and the quicker it happens the more it “succeeds”. Creativity, aka actual improvement, takes far longer.

This ideology of improvement spread, way beyond England, first to America, and subsequently to the whole then Germany, and now everyone. And the world outside Britain and America realised they couldn’t beat the damn Anglos with only their own atavistic and destructive methods, adorned by mere political rhetoric. To hold their own against the Anglosphere, they realised that they would have to copy it. So, they did. And the English ideology of constant improvement now rules the world. We now all live, with ever greater ease and comfort and contentment, in that world.

The English Revolution is, on the whole, not understood by modern educated people. Insofar as the typical Educated Modern has a theory of how all this happened, it is that the English achieved their industrial revolution pretty much by accident. In other words it wasn’t a “revolution” at all, because there were no revolutionaries in the usual sense. Selfish go-getters achieved a mass economic breakthrough that was neither anticipated nor even wanted in each of their individual, selfish little plans. Adam Smith, basically. But the English Revolution, which was and is the global industrial revolution, was an ideological event as well as a merely economic event. Modern educated people cannot see this, because that would involve realising that here was a gang of starry-eyed ideologists and idealists and altruists, with a radical and ludicrously optimistic plan for transforming the lives of all humans everywhere for the better, making omelettes and breaking eggs with relentless single-mindedness. And their plan ended up being triumphantly, fabulously, world transformingly successful. Educated Moderns just don’t have a mental box in which to place events like this. Ideologists always fail, always cause havoc. Even most ideologists nowadays proclaim that their alleged creative miracles, in the radiant future that they proclaim, must be preceded by a phase of destructiveness, during which they destroy all the human barriers to their vision, and of course the rest of us assume that this is all that they will ever accomplish.

But the English Revolution was not like that. It was a Revolution, but a Revolution which only began by being destructive. That part of it failed, in that the political regime that it tried to overthrow was merely modified somewhat. So instead, the English Revolution turned its collective mind towards creativity, and in that it succeeded, beyond its wildest dreams.

To any commenters who want to say it, let me say it first. I know that I haven’t proved, or even really argued, the above proclamation. I have simply proclaimed it. But although I haven’t proved it, I am nevertheless right about all this.

A favourite photo of Battersea Power Station from the archives

Now is not a good time for wandering about in London photoing photos. And anyway, if you do go a-wandering, is putting the photo-results on your blog the smart thing to do? You need a good story to explain why your wanderings were actually essential. Who needs all that nonsense?

So, instead, I’ve been wandering in my photo-archives, which get steadily better as the years go by and as they record circumstances ever more distant in time.

Circumstances like how Battersea Power Station, one of my favourite London Big Things, was look in the summer of 2004:

Battersea Power Station is now surrounded by flats. No cranes will be seen anywhere near it, once the flats are all finished. And I’ve not seen many boats like that since then, with red sales.

Photoed with my old Canon A70.

So what does this Real AI do to the network?

Here’s the latest Taxi-with-advert photo I photoed, not far from a favourite taxi spot even during Lockdown, Victoria Station:

Whereas yesterday, the posting was about a big gadget that merely happened to have words on it, this is an advert that consists only of words. “Juniper. real networks. Real AI. Real results.” Even I know that the Internet will tell me more, if I only ask it. “.

So I went to the Juniper website, and watched and listened to two minutes and more of Juniper Supremo Rami Rahim, talking about an AI driven network, or something. But I am afraid I am not much the wiser. To summarise my question simply: What is he talking about? I know that AI stands for artificial intelligence, but how does this artificial intelligence apply itself to the network? Does it run the network? Thereby saving humans the bother? Does it run the network in a way that is more efficient than it could ever be in humans ran it? Or is the AI doing something entirely different? Or, is Rami Rahim just talking about a somewhat fancy computer programme, that runs the network, which isn’t really AI at all? I’m genuinely eager to learn more.

All of which illustrates a more general point about Lockdown, which is that during it, anyone in the computerised communications business is liable to be doing rather well, and to be eager to advertise, unlike, say, restaurants.

Another SF movie gadget at the Marsden

Yes, yet another big gadget in the Royal Marsden (see also this amazing piece of kit) that makes you think you are in a science fiction movie:

I photoed this photo quite a while back now. What, I wondered at the time, is that for? I chalked it up as yet another mystery I would never fathom, but then I realised there might be some words on it that I could then ask the Internet about. So it proved:

And here it is. Siemens again. Very big in cancer machines, it would seem.

Here is my favourite bit of verbiage at the other end of that link:

Counterbalanced, isocentric design helps saving time and dose und supersedes readjustments by virtually unlimited projection possibilities with 190° orbital rotation.

It’s the “und” that I especially like. They got the first and right, but fluffed the second one. If you don’t believe me, go there und see it for yourself.

A London double decker bus being craned into a pub garden in Fleet Street

This has to be one of the greatest ever London crane photos:

I encountered it on Twitter:

Routemaster bus being craned in to the Old Bank Of England pub on Fleet Street yesterday. To be used as a bar in the back garden when the pub reopens, I believe.

Thank you Lambeth Walker. Whom I am now following.

A shipping container in Vauxhall Bridge Road

Yes, a shipping containing, right there in the middle of a major London traffic artery, at one of its busier junctions (the one with Warwick Way and Rochester Row):

Photoed by me today.

“Forefront” is the enterprise which placed this big metal box in the road. And it would seem to be Forefront which is now digging up just about every road I walk beside these days, what with most of my walking now being done within walking distance of my home. At their website I scrolled down to the bit where they boast, with photos, about all the traffic havoc they are now causing, and four of the six photos there are of the havoc they’ve been causing recently in Victoria Street, which is also a walk away from me but in the opposite direction.

Except that they are not now causing traffic havoc, because there is now so little traffic. Good times for the road-digging industry.

It’s all because of gas and lockdown.

In the background, of the photo above is the tower of Westminster Cathedral. which also featured in yesterday’s posting. This tower looks very good, I think. As does London, when viewed from the top of this tower.

Why my next camera may still be a camera rather than a mobile phone

In a recent posting here, I speculated that my next “camera” might also be my next mobile. Setting aside the question of whether I live long enough to be making any such decision, I think I probably blogged too soon. I did mention zoom, as something a mobile phone might not do well enough, and zoom might indeed be, for me, a deal breaker. Below are three images which illustrate what I mean.

Here is a photo I photoed, in the summer of 2016, from favourite-London-location-of-mine, now shut of course, the top of the Tate Modern Extension:

That photo being favourite genre of mine: Big Things (in this case Ancient Big Things) in alignment with each other. In descending order of recognisability, and going from nearest to furthest, those are Big Ben, the twin towers of Westminster Abbey, and the single but splendid tower of Westminster Cathedral. The little green tower in the foreground is on the top of County Hall.

But here is my camera pointing in the exact same direction, minus any zoom:

I know. You can’t really tell where that clock and those cathedrals even are. Well. the scene in the top photo is to be observed just to the right of the right hand lift shaft of those two lift shafts, and just to the left of the angular glass top of 240 Blackfriars.

If I tried getting the same view with my current mobile, that view would probably look – and here I’m quoting and expanding, so to speak, from the relevant bit of the photo above – more like this:

I love these sorts of alignments and juxtapositions. Often, as above, they can only be photoed with lots of zoom. Just getting closer to the Big Things in question would not be an option, because the alignment only happens if you are in the right high-up spot where you can see it from, and this may be a long way from the aligned Big Things. So, I have to have lots of zoom.

Mobiles achieve megazoom by actually having separate cameras for different amounts of zooming. Will this ever get as good as my present camera type camera? Maybe, but in the sort of time-frame I am looking at now I rather doubt it.

Paperbacks

I only watch a few of the videos that the Quotulator likes to put up at his excellent blog, but I just watched this one and enjoyed it greatly:

What I find so entertaining about this chunk of history is how this new way of selling and consuming books oscillated wildly between Very Low Art (“Penny Dreadfuls”) and Very High Art (classic (hence out of copyright) novels, Shakespeare, etc.). Low Art created the format. High Art discovered that it could use the format.

My Dad collected Penguins before and after WW2, and probably also during. I still have some of those. None of them were Penny Dreadfuls.

Also interesting was the claim that paperbacks are now thriving, better than ebooks are. My suspicion about that one: give it time.