Perpignan photos

A year ago yesterday I was in St Cyprien, and a year ago today I was in Perpignan. However, I was in Perpignan again on January 9th of this year, when the weather was much better and hence so were my photos. Here is a selection of the photos I took then, there:

Not only was the weather better last January than it had been in April of last year; there was also a temporary Wheel in place (photos 20, 21, 22, 26). And (see photo 9) there was an exhibition on of some photos by former President of France Jacques Chirac. How about that?

A feature of any visit to Perpignan is, or should be, a journey to the department store called Galeries Lafayette (the big white building in photo 18), the views from the top of which are excellent (photos 19-28). The views on the way down from the stairs are pretty good too (photos 28-30).

Other than that, it was the usual. Amusing signs in French, roof clutter, strange plants, pollarded trees, various sorts of sculpture ancient and modern, bridges, left over Christmas signs, a motorbike. All good stuff, and all looking much better in the much better light there was in Perpignan on January 9th. Click and enjoy.

William Huskisson and his statue

In addition to photoing ducks in Pimlico Gardens, I also photoed this statue of William Huskisson:

Harsh sunlight can sometimes turn the subtleties of sculpture into a mixture of uninformative black and equally uninformative white, so the diminished but more ambient light I had to make do with may have helped, although a bit more ambient light would have helped. And I fear that in any sort of light, the inscription on the base of the statue (in photo 2) would have been a photographic struggle. You can just about make out that William Huskisson was born in 1770 and died in 1830, but if you care about these dates, you’d probably want to check them out.

The anonymous writer of this piece about the Huskisson Statue refers to it as “rather Roman”. This is like calling an F1 racing car “rather fast” or the Milky Way “rather big”. Huskisson dates from the era when politicians liked to dress up as Romans for portraits and statues, an era that ended with the mid-nineteenth century expansion of the franchise. At which point politicians stopped dressing in a way that emphasised how different and aristocratic and educated and virtuous and special they were, and switched to being ceremonially portrayed in the way that they actually dressed in their regular lives, i.e. a smarter version of the way everyone dressed. “I’m special” turned into “I’m one of you”.

Huskisson’s main claim to fame now is that he was the first mere person ever to be killed in a railway accident. Lots of people must already have died in the course of constructing railways and locomotives, but Huskisson was the first civilian, so to speak, to be killed by this newfangled technology.

More impressive to me is that, as much as he could manage to be within the limits of political necessity and ambition, Huskisson was an old-school classical liberal. At one point in his career, somebody tried to get him to impose a legally enforced minimum wage. Huskisson brushed the notion aside as foolishness. Good for him.

Here is what the Adam Smith Institute’s Madsen Pirie has to say about Huskisson.

Another pair of Egyptian geese

Blogging as I just was about romantically linked birds, I recently transferred a posting about a couple of geese, which I did on Christmas Eve 2014, from the old blog to this blog, which was a big improvement because this posting featured thirty three photos of the happy couple, and viewing them is now a whole lot quicker and easier than it was.

Here is the photo number one of that clutch of thirty three …:

… and I really recommend you check out the other thirty two.

On Tuesday afternoon, at my end of Vauxhall Bridge, on the left as I approach it, I checked out the very same spot where I had photoed all these highly recommendable photos. Perhaps I thought I would meeting the original objects of my photography back in 2014, again. And rather to my surprise, I did encounter a couple of geese who looked very like the two I had originally photoed:

Sadly, I fear that “looked very like” is as far as it went. I had hoped I might have spied again the original couple, but this I now greatly doubt. There are now many of these geese in London and they breed fast.

I know this because I finally managed to identify what brand of bird these four birds all are. I googled “brown eyed goose”, and everything became clear. They are Egyptian geese. That’s a link to a Guardian piece about these geese. The Guardian loves them because the warmer weather we’ve been having lately has enabled them to flourish here. The Guardian loves warmer weather. Warmer weather, to the Guardian means that the world ought to have done to it permanently what the Coronavirus is only doing to it temporarily.

Venturing out again

I wrote here earlier about my fear of embarking upon any longish photo-expeditions, given the highly regulated nature of the public realm at present, and given how enthusiastic mere people seem to have become about enforcing these new rules, by shouting at those who they believe to be disobeying them. Such fears are a getting old thing.

But on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons of this week I set aside these fears and went on a couple of walks, keeping well away from other people of course. On Tuesday, the last day of March, I walked from my home to and across Vauxhall Bridge and then walked a little along the far side towards Battersea, at which point it got too dark and I turned back for home. And on Wednesday, the first day of April, I turned right along the north bank of the River until I got to and crossed Chelsea Bridge, explored all the frozen-in-the-moment building activity around the Battersea Power Station, and then walked back home along the south side of the River and back across Vauxhall Bridge.

The weather on Tuesday was fine, but on Wednesday afternoon the short-term weather forecast was something it very seldom is. It was wrong. I was promised a couple of hours of partial sunshine, but this never happened. But at least there was, as also promised, no actual rain, and once embarked upon my journey I pressed on, for the exercise you understand.

I soon arrived in a place variously known either as St George’s Square or Pimlico Gardens. Although, follow the second of those two links and you understand this muddle. Pimlico Gardens is the small bit at the southern end of the much bigger St George’s Square, which is elongated and not square at all.

Anyway, what with all this exercising, it seemed pointless not to do any photoing, given that nobody seemed to be objecting. In St George’s Square/Pimlico Gardens I photoed a couple – truly a couple – of ducks:

Ducks close-up seemed to work in the gloomy weather. There’s lots of detail for the automatic function to grab hold of, which is mostly how I do my focusing.

No social distance between them.

And not a cloud in the sky

On and from the roof of my block of flats, yesterday:

We’re all confined to barracks, and the best weather of the year so far, by far, chose to arrive to celebrate the fact. About five solid days of not-a-cloud-in-they-sky perfection, ideal for any number of different and interesting photo-expeditions, and all we’re allowed to do is a little shopping shopping, go straight to and from work, and take a bit of exercise. As I get older, I become less and less inclined to incur the wrath of strangers, and me creeping about taking photos might, I can’t help feeling, incur the wrath of strangers. Up on the roof seemed like the best place to go photoing, and in particular to photo the annoyingly perfect weather.

Photo 1: The Broadway, taking shape. Photo 2: Millbank Tower, and new south bank apartments beyond. Photo 3: Parliament, The Wheel. Photo 4: looking towards Vauxhall. Photo 8: Central Hall Westminster. Photo 9: Shard.

Photos 5 and 6: Roof clutter, close up.

It’s Photo 7 that is the mystery. I’m going to have to go back up there and check that out. What’s the big tower on the left? What are the towers in the middle? Looks like they’re under construction. Guess, we’re looking towards all the building around Battersea Power Station.

This snake ate a towel and watching it being removed is oddly mesmerising

Here.

LATER: Fox on a Russian lady’s shoulder in the underground.

EVEN LATER: Ducks v locusts. Two problems with this. First, when the ducks have killed all the locusts, would there not then be a swarm of ducks? Oh. This guy got there first.

And second, the claim was that ducks would go to Pakistan to kill Pakistani locusts, but actually, according to an “expert” that won’t work, because there isn’t enough water in Pakistan and the ducks would die.

Patrick Crozier and I talk about the Falklands War

As earlier noted, Patrick Crozier and I recently recorded a conversation about the Falklands War, involving both what we each remembered about it from when we lived through it (early in 1982), and what we have learned about it since, which was not a lot in my case but a bit.

It was a strange conversation, because we basically talked only about what happened and what we remembered, and almost nothing about what the war “proved” or “demonstrated”, about life generally or about the libertarianism that we are both supporters of in other contexts. The questions we began with were: What was it? What happened? How did events unfold? And that’s what we talked about. There were a few ruminations about the difference between a country which had fought several recent wars and another country which had not, and what that meant in terms of the differences between the people fighting each other. That difference being a major reason why Britain won. But even that was strictly to try to explain events, rather than to get all grand and philosophical and what it all meant.

What Patrick felt and what I felt at the time, about the rights and wrongs of it, were rather different. He was gung-ho and very clear. The Argies stole the islands and we should get them back, and do whatever that took. I was rather baffled and wanted Britain to win more because losing would be so terrible. Not least politically. Because, as we speculated, it would have been hard for Thatcher to have survived as PM if there had been a British military and naval catastrophe down there in the South Atlantic. (The South Atlantic being where, as so many Brits of my sort were rather unsure about at the time, the Falkland Islands are to be found.) There nearly was a catastrophe. Luck played a scarily big part, far bigger than we were told at the time.

Well, if you want to hear what we said about this strange war, and are not expecting any bigger lessons beyond a small and rather meandering history lesson, here is where to go.

Big Things in alignment

Are you fed up with photos I photoed years ago? Well, to make a change, here’s a photo someone else photoed years ago:

That’s the dramatic photo at the top of a piece in The Independent entitled, in appropriately dramatic capital letters, SUPERMOON 2020: HOW TO SEE SNOW MOON THIS WEEKEND.

Getty Images says, about this photo of theirs

A full moon passes behind The Shard skyscraper on 9 September, 2014 in London, England

Anyway, the point is, something similar might well, weather permitting, be happening this coming Sunday.

The first supermoon of the decade will rise over the skies of the UK on Sunday, offering the brightest and biggest view of the moon in almost a year.

It will be the first of four supermoons set to take place in 2020, and the first to occur since 20 March last year. They happen when the full moon is at its closest point in its orbit of Earth, making it seem bigger and brighter than usual.

Weather permitting, people around the world will witness the spectacle on 9 February, with the exact moment where the effect appears strongest happening at 7.34am GMT. The moon will appear full for around three days, spanning from Saturday to Monday.

The time of year means this full moon has traditionally been known as the Full Snow Moon or the Full Hunger Moon, as it often coincided with heavy snowfall and difficult hunting conditions.

Personally, I’m in favour of “difficult hunting conditions”, because I’m a townie and I hate hunting, of any animals not capable of turning around and attacking and devouring their pursuers. But I digress. I am in favour of good photoing weather.

The weather today, like the weather yesterday, was perfect. Here’s to that lasting. Which our forecasters now say it won’t. Shame.

New word

Cranebow:

Found this here.

LATER: From where I’m sitting, there is small and unwelcome gap just before where it says, below, “Monday 27 January 2020”. Can any passing WordPress experts explain this, and thereby help me get rid of it? (My guess is: Me asking this will cause this gap to vanish spontaneously.)

And I was right! It did vanish. And me writing the above paragraph enabled me to spot it, because the entire paragraph turned blue. A missing “/” was the problem, following the blue “here”, which, when inserted, abolished the gap. So, WordPress experts, forget about it.

But the good news is …

Bloomberg reports that A $1 Billion Solar Plant Was Obsolete Before It Ever Went Online.

The US taxpayer faces an eye-watering bill. Which is very bad. But the interesting thing to me is why it was obsolete:

By the time the plant opened in 2015, the increased efficiency of cheap solar panels had already surpassed its technology, and today it’s obsolete — the latest panels can pump out power at a fraction of the cost for decades with just an occasional hosing-down.

I am not a close student of solar power, but to my uneducated eye this sounds like very good news. The savings that this rapid solar tech progress will yield will surely be worth far more than whatever the US government wasted (by being too impatient and/or corrupt) on this particular slice of pork.

There’s a graph in the Bloomberg piece which says that the “Cost of Solar Technology in $ Per Megawatt-Hour” has fallen from around $350 in 2009 to around $50 in 2019. Which sounds like quite a drop. I had heard rumours about how solar power is getting cheaper, but I had not realised how rapid this improvement had been. And, I’m guessing, will go on being.

New and overdue category here: “Energy”.