Butterflies in the windows of Harrods – 2011

Yes, in February 2011, I was photoing butterflies, in shopwindows:

And yes, Harrods.

There’s another art that must surely have become a bit more elaborate since the arrival of digital photography. If your window display s temporary, why bother to go to too much bother? But if you can easily go snap and make it rather more permanent, then you’ll surely bother that little bit more.

One of the better talks I have ever given concerned the impact of digital photography, and in that I recall mentioning someone who used digital photography to “collect”, to so speak, butterflies. Real ones. By photoing them rather than by stabbing them with pins. If I’d thought of shop-window displays when preparing that talk, I might have mentioned them also, along with graffiti and ice sculpture.

Lomborg on climate catastrophe

It became clear from the very first paragraphs of False Alarm by Bjorn Lomborg that I was going to have to start revising my prejudices about its author. If, later in this book, Lomborg ever tries to downplay the centrality to the climate argument of the claim that our planet is heading for a climate catastrophe, as opposed merely for a dose of mere climate change, and to deny the centrality of climate science to the climate debate, instead banging only entirely about mere economics, he certainly doesn’t start his book by doing anything like that. Quite the opposite (pp. 3-4):

WE LIVE IN AN AGE OF FEAR – particularly a fear of climate change. One picture summarizes this age for me. It is of a girl holding a sign saying:

YOU’LL DIE OF OLD AGE
I’LL DIE OF CLIMATE CHANGE

This is the message that the media is drilling into our heads: climate change is destroying our planet and threatens to kill us all. The language is of apocalypse. News outlets refer to the “planet’s imminent incineration” and analysts suggest that global warming could make humanity extinct in a few decades. Recently, the media has informed us that humanity has just a decade left to rescue the planet, making 2030 the deadline to save civilization. And therefore we must radically transform every major economy to end fossil fuel use, reduce carbon emissions to zero and establish a totally renewable basis for all economic activity.

Children live in fear and line the streets in protest. Activists are cordoning off cities and airports to raise awareness that the entire population of the planet is facing “slaughter, death, and starvation”.

Influential books reinforce this understanding. In 2017, journalist David Wallace-Wells wrote a lengthy and terrifying description of global warming impacts for New York magazine. Although the article was generally panned by scientists as exaggerated and misleading, he went on to publish the same argument in book form in The Uninhabitable Earth, which became a bestseller. The book revels in unabashed alarmism: “It is worse, much worse, than you think.” Likewise, in his 2019 book, Falter, naturalist Bill McKibben warned that global warming is the greatest threat to human civilization, worse even than nuclear war. It could finish off humanity not with an explosion but “with the burble of a rising ocean.” A bookshelf would groan under the weight of recent books with deliberately terrifying titles and messages: Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change; Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity; The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable; and This Is the Way the World Ends: How Droughts and Die-offs, Heat Waves and Hurricanes Are Converging on America.

Media outlets reinforce the extreme language by giving ample space to environmental campaigners, and by engaging in their own activism. The New York Times warns that “across the globe climate change is happening faster than scientists predicted.” The cover of Time magazine tells us: “Be worried. Be very worried.” The British newspaper the Guardian has gone further, updating its style guidelines so reporters must now use the terms “climate emergency,” “climate crisis,” or “climate breakdown.” Global warming should be “global heating.” The newspaper’s editor believes “climate change” just isn’t scary enough, arguing that it “sounds rather passive and gentle when what scientists are talking about is a catastrophe for humanity.”

Unsurprisingly, the result is that most of us are very worried. A 2016 poll found that across countries as diverse as the United Arab Emirates and Denmark, a majority of people believe that the world is getting worse, not better. In the United Kingdom and the United States, two of the most prosperous countries on the planet, an astonishing 65 percent of people are pessimistic about the future. A 2019 poll found that almost half of the world’s population believes climate change likely will end the human race. In the United States, four of ten people believe global warming will lead to mankind’s extinction.”

You can read the first twenty five pages of this book, including the above quote, here.

Photoer photos guardsman

I like this photo, which I photoed in the summer of 2013, somewhere in the vicinity of Victoria Station, Victoria Street, or some such place:

I like it for lots of reasons, including that it is a fine example of the modified cliché photo. What could be more banal than a bloke photoing a guardsman, in the Buckingham Palace part of London? Yet the manner in which this scene is presented is most unusual.

Like I say, I like it. But I don’t understand it. How – and for that matter why – was that effect created, behind an office door of impeccable dullness and insignificance? They are clearly not shadows of an actual photoer and an actual guardsman, standing behind me as I photo, because where is my shadow? Are the photoer and the guardsman cardboard cut-outs? If so, the cardboard of the guardsman’s bayonet is very thin and vulnerable.

Are these just big bits of paper, stuck on the inside of the windows? Is it that straightforward? But if so, how come the shadows of the two guys seems of the same sort as the shadow of the two poles with the rope hanging in between them? Which appears to be a real shadow of a real thing, see below the shadow.

Are the two guys 3D sculptures?  But if so, why?  Why go to all that bother in such a place?

And what is that strange ghost-like thing, just to the right of the photoer?

I like puzzle photos, but I prefer it when the puzzle is soluble.

I am now about to test my Bjorn Lomborg prejudices

I recently got lent a copy of this book by Bjorn Lomborg:

But before getting stuck into it, I wanted to describe my prejudice concerning Bjorn Lomborg, based on such things as reading short articles by him and pieces by others about him. But then, when looking for something else in my old blog, I came across this posting from 2012 that already described my Lomborg prejudices, which started life as a comment on a Samizdata posting:

My prejudice about Lomborg (which is why I have not studied his thoughts in much depth) is that he doesn’t understand the argument he says he is in.

In particular, he doesn’t grasp that the essence of the Climate argument concerns whether or not there is going to be a Climate Catastrophe. If there is, then all Lomborg’s chat about merely improving the lives of the poor is just fiddling while Rome awaits incineration.

But if the evidence for a forthcoming catastrophe is no better now than at any other time during human history, then Lomborg’s arguments make sense, as do all other arguments about merely improving things. Economics, business, capitalism, etc. all make sense, and there is no excuse for global collectivism, because it only makes things worse. The only excuse for global collectivism is in preventing a global catastrophe that is otherwise unpreventable.

The climate argument is about climate science, not economics. But Lomborg, being an economist, can’t make himself accept that. He’s the bloke with a hammer to whom every problem must involve banging in a nail. But the whole reason they fabricated the idea of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming was that they could then stop talking about economics, and switch to something else. They wanted to stop losing their argument to people like Lomborg, and instead to win it, in a field where, to start with, they had the advantage of being early adopters, and where their opponents literally did not know what they were talking about.

To be clear: these are just my prejudices, and they haven’t changed since 2012. But because of them I’ve basically ignored Lomborg, and that will now change. I hope now to discover if my prejudices have any solid basis or if they will have to be dumped.

I have my internet connection back (thanks to The Guru)

Indeed. So that means I can post things properly, using all my fingers rather than just one, on a screen I can actually read without taking my glasses off and without putting that screen one inch away from my eyes. The nightmare, for the time being, has ended.

My thanks to Michael for yesterday’s posting, telling you all that I hadn’t died, but was merely out of touch, and for general moral support.

And my special thanks to The Guru, for talking me through all the intricacies of getting reconnected. My best guess is that in the aftermath of the Eclipse outage starting, I tried to rescue matters and that was when it really got bad, because then, when Eclipse got back on track, I didn’t.

One thing I can tell you. Internet outage trumps rather bad health. If you are poorly and without an internet connection, the priority is to get your internet connection back again. Then you worry about health. Or, maybe that’s just another way of saying that my health is not that bad. I suppose if you’re dead, getting your internet back wouldn’t make that much difference.

Anyway, hello, again, and it’s great to be back and gibbering away incontinently, rather than “texting” on the abomination that is my horrible, horrible, insane, mobile phone. Thank goodness (the goodness of The Guru) I don’t now have to start faffing about posting photos on that damn thing, and can go back to using a proper computer, in a big old suitcase, with a big old screen and a big (although actually not that big) keyboard with actual keys on it, and a mouse, as nature intended.

Big Things above three urinals

Indeed. To celebrate being able to post photos again with ease, this:

We’re in the Gents, at the Lord Palmerston pub, Dartmouth Park Hill. Although, they call it the “Lords”.

The above photo was photoed in 2015. I’d just been checking out the view from that Bridge that goes over Archway, from which you can see London’s Big Things for real. I went back to this Lords Toilet more recently, to try to get a photo that would work for the permanent top of this blog, but the Big Things had gone. Shame. Maybe looking at giant architectural penises proved off-putting for those seeking to piss through their own smaller penises.

Hello again

Yes, hello, from my mobile.

My mainframe computer is still failing to connect itself to the world, so I am typing this in with one finger, into my mobile. Since I don’t yet know how to post this, I will end this now and try to do that. Fingers crossed.

LATER: It worked!

I hope to start doing actual posting again quite soon. But it’ll be on this and consequently rather different.

Technical difficulties with Brian’s internet connection

This is Brian’s blogmaster Michael here. Brian has just called me to tell me that he is unable to post at the moment because his home internet connection is not working. He will resume posting when it is fixed. We are not presently sure how long this is going to take.

EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE ALRIGHT

I’ve been feeling down in the dumps lately, and I came to realise that the permanent photo on my computer wasn’t helping. It was of a boarded up house in Brittany, and it was there because that seemed appropriate for the times we are all trying to live past. But, because it was so appropriate it was also deeply depressing, just like the times we are all trying to live past, and it was making those times, for me, even worse.

So, I changed the photo to this:

That’s quite a proclamation there, I think you’ll agree:

EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE ALRIGHT

This sign is still, so far as I know, to be seen in one of my favourite spots in London, which is the top of the Tate Modern extension. I must have photoed literally thousands of photos up there, and in a lot of them the evening sunshine is bouncing about in there in highly confusing ways, what with all the glass partitions there are there. The above photo, one of many I have photoed of this slogan, is chosen so as to be clear what’s going on. Some of the others are major puzzles, I can tell you, but this one is simple and readable. You know where you are with it.

This slogan was installed in Tate Modern in 2018, it having previously been elsewhere. As prophecies go, let’s just say we’ve all seen better, and it’s meant to be ironic. But despite its comically extreme inaccuracy, I have found it to be strangely soothing, and a great improvement on the boarded up house.

So numerous and complicated have been the photos I have photoed in this place that I haven’t known how to display them. The answer is just to make a start, and keep on doing it. More to come, I (almost) promise.

TATE MODERN IS CURRENTLY CLOSED. I really miss the place. Most of what’s in it always looks very ignorable, so I mostly ignore it, but I do like this sign.

A new Fulham stand (and a very good Spurs win)

Even as I write, they are showing a Premier League soccer game on the telly, and more to the point, at the BBC Website. Which means I can go back and watch goals without all the tedium in between, and also pause things, when instead of blokes just kicking a ball, they show something more interesting, like this:

Fulham are at home to Everton, and I can’t help suspecting that they are 1-3 down at half time because the people running the club have more pressing matters on their minds than how well their team is doing. They are building a big new stand. You can tell how seriously they are taking the job by the fact that they are prepared to have two platforms sticking out over the River, just to hold all the associated building stuff, presumably because there is nowhere else nearby to put it.

We are way out west, with Central London off to the left as we look.

With cricket and rugby, I find the routine stuff that happens during games interesting, probably because I actually spent longish periods of time when I was a kid trying to do these things myself and realising how hard they are to do right, especially passing in rugby, which the pros now expect to get right every time. But the regular moves of soccer, the kicking, the passing, the tackling, I find boring. I never bothered with this, because I was a goalie, so this never really came alive for me. The goals I like, or when the goalie stops a goal. And the more distant views as above I also like, for totally different reasons. So I really like being able to keep the visuals of a soccer game going in the background, and then when something of interest happens, to pick those moments out for myself, which you can do on the internet, but not when it’s on old school TV.

Yesterday, my team, Spurs had the sort of game they have in recent years tended to lose, or to draw disappointingly, namely a home game against a genuinely top club. For all their bizarre heroics in a recent European Cup (getting to the final), Spurs have never in recent years been any better than a best-of-the-rest team rather than a truly top team. But yesterday’s game, if they could only win it, would suggest true topness. So, yesterday, I had three very nice surprises. The first was when I learned that Spurs had gone one up, against Manchester City, no less. Second, even better, was when I later learned that they had gone two up. Then, best of all, they conceded no goals themselves towards the end when Man City were pressing to get back into it, and closed out the game. This is top team stuff. If Spurs can beat Chelsea at Chelsea next Sunday, then they really will start looking like a top team, and I might start paying them some serious attention.

Fulham 2 Everton 3, with a quarter of an hour to go. Go London Fulham, given that you are not playing against London Spurs.

I support all the London teams, unless they’re playing London Spurs. That’s right, I support Arsenal against all other comers. This enrages Real Football Fans, which is all part of why I do it. As does calling “Football” soccer, the sneer quotes because what of Rugby Football, American Football, table football, Australian Football, etc.? I’m a Londonist, see above, way before I’m a soccerist.

LATER: Here’s how they reckoned, in 2018, that this new stand would look:

From the report below that picture:

Fulham FC will redevelop its Riverside Stand to increase the capacity at its Craven Cottage stadium to 29,600. The work will also see the Thames Path opened for the first time, for pedestrians to walk from Hammersmith to Putney Bridge.

Memo to self: When they finish this, check it out.