Adams versus Kaepernick

I enjoyed this Twitterxchange. here.

Colin Kaepernick:

Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.

Scott Adams:

I’m pro-Kaepernick (for his effective protest on a real issue) but this is the worst life advice you will ever see. Develop a talent stack instead.

One of the classic career counselling clashes, the one between meaning and process. There is a distinct whiff of Jordan Peterson in what Kaepernick says, or is said by Nike to be saying.

I’m sort of in between on this one. I’d say: believe in something and develop a talent stack that achieves it, or failing that, something else worth achieving. And I’d add that we all end up sacrificing everything in the end, or at least losing it. We all must die of something. Let it be of something meaningful or at least having attempted something meaningful.

I’m now catching up with Scott Adams, and in particular, am viewing this. I like how Adams’s videos to camera begin with a piece of “simultaneous sip” nonsense, because this means that you don’t have to go back to the beginning when you crank one of them up.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

A dramatic Chicago photo and the photoer who photoed it

One of the more tiresome things about Twitter is the way that a photo goes viral, without the photoer who photoed the photo getting any credit for the photo.

So, I am happy to report that, when I learned, via Mike Fagan, whom I follow, that a tweeter by the name of Arturas Kerelis reported that “someone” took this photo …:

… in Chicago, on September 3rd, the photoer was eventually identified. Commenter Chris Gallevo, to whom thanks and respect, steered any who cared, which included me, to the Instagram site of Kevin Banna, where the above photo is to be found.

I was not able to discover what Kevin Banna himself looks like. That’s the trouble with image googling the name of a photoer. Are the results photos of him, or merely photos by him? It’s not easy to know, without more labour than I was prepared to give to the question.

In a backhanded compliment to Banna’s photo, and also to the extreme drama that the weather in Chicago is apparently capable of providing from time to time, some commenters accused “someone” of having Photoshopped this image. Other commenters assured us that the weather in Chicago that day really was very dramatic, in just the way the above photo portrays, and that it general it regularly lays on such displays and dramas.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Trump chat

Every so often my friend Patrick Crozier and I get together to have a recorded conversation and we did one a while back on the subject of President Trump. You can now listen to this, by going here.

Scroll down here, to get all our recent conversations.

For further thoughts from me about what a microphone can achieve and what it mostly does not achieve, try this posting here.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

A Brunel bridge seat and the Brunel museum

So I went looking for interesting new bridges, as I do from time to time, but found nothing interesting that I didn’t know about. Like I say, the bridge news these days is when they collapse.

So I gave up on bridges, and instead thought about doing a posting about the Brunel Museum, which I visited on Saturday. There is, of course, a website. But there is also a Wikipedia entry. And look what I found there. That’s right, it’s the Royal Albert Bridge, Saltash, made smaller and sittable upon, with a train:

I’m pretty sure that, while waiting to be told about the nearby Brunel tunnel under the Thames (set in motion by Brunel’s dad Marc), I and my two pals were sitting sipping our drinks within a few feet of this bridge-bench. But it was dark, and I only found out about it just now.

Here are two things I did see:

On the left, a bust of Marc Brunel, in the little museum. On the right, a photo of son Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the famous photo with the huge chains behind him, projected onto the extremely grubby and deranged wall of the place where we listened to a lecture about the tunnel. The guy is saying: “Well, you just can’t get the walls these days.”

No, he wasn’t. He was saying something I didn’t catch because I wasn’t concentrating hard enough to make it out. That being because the acoustics of this strange vertical cylinder in the ground were about as reverberationally bad as acoustics are able to be, and I could only make out about one in three of the words spoken by the guy, despite him being an actor who enunciated very clearly, and despite him standing about four yards from where we were sitting.

But despite all of the above, it was a fun evening. Basically (a) because of the company, and (b) because now, when people ask me if I know anything about the Brunel Museum in Bermondsey, I can now say: Yes. I’ve been there. And because I had fun photoing.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Sun and rain in Brussels – February 2005

Every so often, I rootle through my rather chaotic (increasingly so as I go backwards) photo-archive, and every so often when I’m doing that (as I was doing last night), a particular photo jumps out, that I have no recollection at all of having taken, but (and) which I really like.

Such as this one:

The sunlight hitting the trees, and the pavement and the road, looks rather like snow.

That’s exactly as it came out of the camera. Which was only my second ever digital camera, a Canon A70.

Which sort of suggests that although things like superzoom on your camera have got a lot zoomier and cheaper, the basic way these things work hasn’t changed that much.

The screens on the backs of cameras, on the other hand

Although come to think of it, what we see above is a scene with an abundance of light bouncing around in it. It’s when things get darker that the latest cameras really come into their own, compared to this old thing. The indoor photos in the same directory, of some long ago event in Brussels that I attended, now look very blurry and dated in their appearance. Either that, or hideously flashed, which I hate, and never do now, no matter what my camera says.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Photoing architectural change

I distinctly remember photoing the old Pimlico School, which was a walk away from where I live, just the other side of Vauxhall Bridge Road. And today, I came across those photos. Just the two, of which this, after a bit of rotating and cropping, was the better one:

At the time I photoed it, way back in 2004, I had no idea that it would be demolished, in 2010, and replaced with an Academy. Read about that here.

On the very same day I took that photo of the old Pimlico School, I also took this photo:

That was a scene that I knew would change, and now, many years later, it is changing. But that’s quite unusual. That was a landmark building that was definitely going to be “redeveloped”, and the only mystery was when, and in what way. More often, buildings just get smashed down or transformed without warning. Big scenes get rebuilt, without warning. Oh, there is warning, if you spend your entire life looking out for such warnings. But, I don’t.

This being part of why I take lots of photos. Especially, now that it is so easy to take lots of photos, and so easy to store them. That way, I am more likely to get lucky with photos of things which no longer exist, or which do still exist but which later look very different.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Hurrah for the inflated plastic dragons of Kew Gardens

Today I had in mind to tell you about the dragons that adorn the Great Pagoda in Kew Gardens, which is the Pagoda from the top of which you can see the Big Things of London.

But I spent today paying attention to cricket, and fretting about whether enough people would attend my Brian’s Last Friday Meeting, that happened earlier this evening, so I did not manage to say anything here about the above mentioned dragons. Too complicated.

Now that it is late evening, and the meeting has successfully concluded (thank you Vera Kichanova, terrific), I only have time and energy to tell you about these two particular dragons, which are inflated and made of plastic:

What these inflated plastic dragons tell you is that Kew Gardens, in addition to being a place of Outstanding Scientific Interest, is also what is now called a Visitor Attraction. A place, in other words, to which children are glad to go to rather than rebellious about being made to go. And there is nothing like friendly inflated plastic dragons with goofy smiles on their faces to make children feel welcome.

I, meanwhile, have no particular objection to visiting a Visitor Attraction. Before I had a digital camera, I used to be snobbish about going to places which other people in large numbers also liked. But since acquiring my first digital camera (I am now on about my seventh) and since acquiring the hobby of photoing other digital photoers, I find that my former distaste for Visitor Attractions has melted away. The more people there are at a particular spot (and if they can bring their children without their children objecting, there will be more people) the more chance there is that there will be people photoing, and that makes me happy.

So: hurrah for the inflated plastic dragons of Kew Gardens. Which I also quite like myself.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Lady photoers holding other cameras beside the ones they’re using

Today, in search of something worth displaying here, I chanced upon a directory of photos of photoers who were to be seen holding more than one camera. I gathered these photos together some time in 2010, but then never got around to doing anything with them. Almost all of these photos seem to have been taken in and around Parliament Square and Westminster Bridge, my most usual locale for photoing photoers, then as now.

Here are some of them now:

These photos all date from 2005 and 2006. I was not as fussed about hiding faces in those faraway times, but as you can see, I was making some effort in this direction, at any rate enough of an effort to give me plenty of faceless photoers, so to speak, to choose from.

As to why these ladies are holding another camera, this was usually because they were in a group, and were helping to ensure sure that each photo-op was registered in every camera owned by anyone in the group, and in particular that each camera owner had a decent number of photos of themselves. (In the above photos, in other words, we are often observing selfies being taken.) Often, I would photo ladies (ladies especially seem to hunt photos in a pack) who were taking the same photo two or even several times, with two or several cameras, one after the other, with the inactive cameras hanging down from them in a clump. Sadly, there are no ladies to be seen here with more than two cameras on the go.

Often one of the group would ask me to take a photo of all of them, with one of their cameras, and sometimes with more than one in succession, so that they had at least one photo or some photos with everyone included. It’s all I can do to make any sense of my own cameras, let alone anyone else’s, but I would usually do my best.

It could also be that some of these ladies are taking photos with cameras supplied to them by absent friends or partners. Remember, in these faraway times, communicating photos from this camera to that camera was harder than it is now, and if doable, a lot more cumbersome. How much easier for it to get my desired photo in my camera, even if I myself didn’t take it!

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

More Surrey cricket photos

I did a posting about a Big Thing Alignment that I saw when I went with Darren to that cricket match at the oval, and I did a posting about how the last ball of that game looked, two days later, on video.

Now for some more photos I took on the day Darren and I went to day 2 of that game between Surrey and Lancashire.

The very first photo I took that day was this:

I love how, in the middle of that big photo, we see one of those excellent You Are Here signs that you see all over London, and in many other spots, I don’t doubt, in not-London. I really like these signs, and constantly photo them, if only to remind me for later of exactly where Here was at that particular moment.

Of this OCS stand, SteelConstruction.org has this to say:

This is a most appropriate use of steel, in a geometrically complex arrangement, which adds drama and visual excitement to a famous venue.

I was hoping that this OCS Stand, would be as open for people to sit in as it was in the above photo photo, because I have yet to experience the views from the top of that stand, surely as dramatic in their own ways as the stand itself. But on the evening when Darren and I were there, the OCS Stand was shut. Shame. Memo to self: I will photo these views. If I have to make a special trip to the Oval just to ask about that, fine, I’ll do it, and keep on doing it, until they let me up there, preferably on a nice day.

Here is that OCS Stand, as it was looking at the second interval of the day, which happened not long after we got there:

That photo makes the ground look pretty dark, even though the floodlights were on. And it does not deceive. The ground did indeed look dark, to the human eye.

Here is the Pavilion that faces the OCS Stand, which is where we soon moved to:

Some like ancient, and dislike modern. Others dislike ancient, and like modern. Me? I like both, and particularly like it when they are near each other, or (as in this case) facing each other, and I can relish the contrast.

One of the particular charms of cricket grounds – this being especially true of the two big London grounds, the Oval and Lord’s – is that they feature both (fairly (at least in style)) ancient, and (very) modern architecture. In comparison, I find big stadiums built all in one go very dull. I went to a football game at Wembley, and if it hadn’t been for the big arch on the top of it, it would have been totally anonymous. It’s not just the architectural uniformity. It’s also that in a place like Wembley there are no gaps, and you can’t see anything except the stadium. You could be anywhere.

Darren and I, what with Darren being a Surrey Member, sat in those seats at the top, in the middle, and when you look out from there, across at the OCS Stand and to the left and the right of it, you couldn’t be anywhere but London. Here is another view looking to the right, which includes that earlier Big Thing Alignment and several other random Big Things besides:

And here is the view to the left, towards Battersea, where the new US Embassy, just up river from MI6, has detonated a building boom:

But forget the US Embassy. The reason I am showing you the above photo is to tell you how very dark the ground had become. Forget playing cricket. How on earth can you even see anything on that cricket pitch?

But seeing things on that pitch soon became very easy. Quite soon afterwards, observe how very light the ground had become:

The floodlights were blasting away in both of those photos, not just in the second one. Yet, in the first, they were being totally outshone by the paltry remnants of daylight. Only when daylight had seriously dimmed did the floodlights suddenly start to make their presence felt. And even then the sky is still quite light, especially down near the horizon.

I have been to the Oval quite a few times, but don’t recall witnessing the extremity of this contrast ever before. I think it helped that we were looking down on the ground from quite a height, onto the brightness of the ground. But basically, I’ve never been there when it was properly dark before.

The reason the above photo, especially of the people near me to the left, looks like it was taken with flash is because there is another big clutch of floodlights coming crashing into us from off to the right, very nearby.

Finally, here are a couple of photos I took just after arriving at the ground, through the Hobbs Gate, which is behind the Pavilion, on the far side of the Oval from the river, and from me:

One of the more agreeable features of London’s big two cricket grounds – Lord’s especially – is the number of giant photos there are on show, of cricketing heroes present and past. It was the same when I visited White Hart Lane a while back.

Here is a closer-up snap of the Surrey ladies captain, Natalie Sciver:

Sciver lead her team to victory on Bank Holiday Monday in the ladies T20 national tournament. Her Surrey “Stars” beat “Western Storm” in the one semi-final, and then won the final against Loughborough “Lightning”. Lizelle Lee got a century for Surrey in the final, but she got good support from Sciver, and Sciver excelled with both bat and ball in the semi-final, which was a lot closer.

I am fond of emphasising how sport has replaced war in the world’s luckier and richer countries. Long may that trend continue. What these giant pictures emphasise, or so it feels to me, is the local significance of big sports clubs, and the way that, in terms of how these places feel close up, sport is also busy replacing religion. This is especially true now that the other great modern challenger of religion in this kind of way, the cinema, is fading back into a merely domestic past-time. The elaborate imagery. The regular attendance at an architecturally impressive locale. The shared agonies and ecstasies of the assembled congregations. The way that the calendar is carved up into a distinct pattern. To me, it all feels very religious, and I am certainly not the only one to have noticed this. (That link took only seconds to find.)

The Church of Cricket is, I quite realise, but a small sect, these days, at any rate in England, compared to the Universal Church of Football. But the point about sport replacing religion in modern life still stands.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog