I just watched this video of Shelby Steele being interviewed by Peter Robinson of the Hoover Institute. If, like me, you’ve not been paying attention to this man, this interview would be a good way to correct that. If you have been paying attention, well, well done you. But for me, even seeing this man talk was a first. Better late than never.
The idea, which Steele talks about a lot, of freedom being a “shock” makes a lot of sense to me. I recall having this shock explained to me by an east European lady who had spent her adult life being unfree, under Soviet Communist domination. Suddenly she was in a Western style supermarket, facing choices she didn’t know how to make. And that was just the toothpaste.
Towards the end of the interview, Robinson asks if there are any more “Uncle Tom” Black people, now talking about Black Americans getting to grips with the freedom they now have rather than continuing to complain ever more implausibly about the lack of it, and Robinson mentions: Shelby Steele, Thomas Sowell, and, er, that’s it. Well, how about, and this is just for starters, Candace Owens?
Last Sunday, the gloriously sunny day when I photoed this reflection photo, I also photoed many other photos, as I walked to and around Parliament Square, and then along the River to Lambeth Bridge and across, and then to Vauxhall. My aim was to photo the statues in Parliament Square and the two pronged Vauxhall Bus Thing in friendlier light than I had so far managed.
But while engaged in this project, I couldn’t avoid noticing something else that was happening. See if you can spot what these twenty eight photos have in common:
Yes. Well spotted. Cyclists. Lots and lots of cyclists. Cyclists on their own. Cyclists in pairs. Families of cyclists. Great squadrons of cyclists. On otherwise almost entirely empty roads.
Quite what this “means”, I’m not entirely sure. But a major point of this blog is to feature things that seem interesting, without it being entirely clear to me why they are interesting. “Interesting” being the lowest form of interestingness that there is, because it’s the sort that you haven’t yet explained to yourself.
The only titbit of interpretation I can offer is that I caught a Daily Telegraph article about how the Lockdown was beginning to fray at the edges, and illustrated at the top with a photo like one of the ones above, featuring a great cluster of cyclists. I can’t now find this piece, but I swear I saw it. I didn’t read it, because the DT hides most of its stuff behind a paywall these days, and paying my way past paywalls is a habit I don’t want to start catching. But, I did see it. It was something along these lines, but with a cyclists photo at the top instead of a short video about people sunbathing en masses on the beach.
Also, there was me, creeping about photoing these cyclists. I too am fraying the Lockdown at its edges.
Because, another interesting thing about Lockdown London, at any rate the bit I live in, is that the Plod are almost nowhere to be seen. Parliament Square on Sunday contained many cyclists and creepers about like me, but no coppers whatsoever. You’d think Parliament Square would still be a worry to them, yet the only cops I saw that day were charging about in vans, attending to some other matter of far greater importance to them than me creeping about photoing, or than lots of cyclists. Who knows? Maybe they were actually having a go at some crimes.
Now, I know, had any policemen tried interrogating any of these cyclists, their answer would have been: “This is excercise, and exercise is allowed.” That would have been my answer also. But in practise, the rule that the police seem to have been applying during all this History has been more like: “You can go out, but you are not allowed to enjoy it.” It was the way these cyclists were so obviously having a good time taking their exercise that made it feel like defiance of the official line. And my worry was pleasure (because photoing) is what I would have been accused of also. So, I agree with the implication of that DT piece. It’s starting to crumble. If the government is wise, it will now relax things.
At the risk of boring you, another thought occurs to me about these cyclists, which is that slowly but surely the Lockdown is being politicised. Lefties don’t mind the economy tanking quite so much, because they have a government that they hate that they can then blame it all on. They have elections to win that they’ve lately been losing, rather badly. Righties, on the other hand, want the Lockdown to end, so that they can get back to being right about everything.
But cyclists of the sort I was photoing are a classic lefty demographic. If they are making a nonsense of the Lockdown, then the Lockdown is in trouble and needs to be wound down rather fast.
Also, the very fact that Lockdown is being politicised is further evidence that people are no longer taking it that seriously, the Righties in particular. When you start thinking how the crisis du jour will help or hinder your political tribe, then it’s no longer a proper crisis. It’s a mere circumstance.
Please don’t mistake the above for my considered opinions. This is me having made some observations, and then me thinking aloud about those observations.
Earlier this evening I attended an event at which Denise Ho answered questions put to her by an ASI guy, about the unfolding situation in Hong Kong. I photoed her:
Short summary. The protests continue, and the way for her side to win is to universalise the struggle, turning it from a merely local battle, which China is bound to win, into a global argument, which China is a lot less likely to win. Hence her presence in London (and many other spots around the world) to tell people about what’s happening in Hong Kong.
I heard another talk about Hong Kong on Monday that covered a lot of the same ground. My question then (which I thought rather than actually asked) was: What can we do to help? Answer, from Denise Ho this evening: a lot. Because “we” means everyone else in the world who wants to help.
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.
Following yesterday’s very generic, touristy photos of the Albert Memorial (although some of them did involve a breast implant), here is a much more temporary photo, of the sort most tourists wouldn’t bother with:
You obviously see what I did there, lining up what looks like a big, all-seeing eye with a clutch of security cameras, cameras made all the scarier by having anti-pigeon spikes on them.
And what, I wondered when I encountered this in my archive, and you are wondering now, is the provenance of that big eye?
So, not actually a photo about and advert for the Total Surveillance Society. It merely looked like that.
However, just two minutes later, from the same spot of the same electronic billboard, I took this photo:
So as you can see, the Total Surveillance Society was definitely on my mind. Terrorism, the blanket excuse for everyone to be spying on everyone else. The two minute gap tells me that I saw this message, realised it was relevant, but it then vanished and I had to wait for it to come around again. Well done me.
According to the title of the directory, and some of the other photos, I was with a very close friend. A very close and very patient friend, it would seem. Hanging about waiting for a photo to recur is the sort of reason I usually photo-walk alone.
I took these photos in Charing Cross railway station on April Fool’s Day 2009. I would have posted them at the time, but in their original full-sized form, they unleashed a hurricane of messy interference patterns. But just now, when I reduced one of them to the sort of sizes I use for here, those interference patterns went away. I thought that these patterns had been on the screen I was photoing. But they were merely on my screen, when I looked at my photos. And then, when I resized all the photos, it all, like I said, went away. Better late than never.
When it’s finished, it will look, according to the picture on the outside of the site (which is an outdoor hard copy of the first picture here), like this:
Here is what it and its surroundings will look like from above. My home can be found in that picture, this Thing being only a short walk away from it.
But, as of now, in contrast to the above simulations, it looks like this, which I think I somewhat prefer (what with all that lovely scaffolding):
Hang on. Is that a Christmas tree I see up there (in among all that lovely scaffolding)? Yes it is:
After I started taking photos of this Thing Under Construction, together with its Christmas tree, one of the men doing the constructing made “stop doing that” gestures. I was standing on a public pavement. They were building a small skyscraper with a Christmas tree on the side of it. Did they think they could keep this secret, and impose martial law for a quarter of a mile around all this? I just laughed out loud and carried on, and of course they did nothing about it.
Can you spot why “Sculpture” is included in the category list below?
In October, I posted this, provoked by seeing a drone in a London shop window. I said stuff like this:
Something tells me that this gadget is going to generate some contentious news stories about nightmare neighbours, privacy violations, and who knows what other fights and furores.
What might the paps do with such toys? And how soon before two of these things crash into each other?
I should also then have read and linked to this piece, published by Wired in February. Oh well. I’m linking to it now.
Sooner or later there will inevitably be a case when the privacy of a celebrity is invaded, a drone crashes and kills someone, or a householder takes the law into their own hands and shoots a drone down.
Quite aside from privacy issues, what sort of noise do these things make? That alone could be really annoying. (Although that link is also very good as a discussion of privacy issues. Noise is only the start of their discussion.)
My guess? These things will catch on, but at first only for niche markets, like photoing sports events, or, in general, photoing inside large privately owned places where the owner can make his own rules and others then just have to take them or leave them. Pop concerts. If they’re not too noisy, they might be good for that.
This is always how new technology first arrives. Ever since personal computers the assumption has tended to be that the latest gizmo will immediately go personal, so to speak. (Consider 3D printing.) But actually, personal use is, at any rate to begin with, rather a problem. At first, the new gizmo finds little niche markets. Only later, if at all, do things get personal.
Which is why, I think, the first two sightings I have made of photo drones have each been in shop windows, the first in the window of Maplins in the Strand (see the link above), and the most recent, shown below, in the window of Maplins in Tottenham Court Road:
And a creepy Christmas to you. I guess this is the gadget of choice of “Secret Santa”.
Which reminds me. Now is the time I start taking photos of signs saying “Merry Christmas” to stick up here instead of sending out Christmas cards. Will I find a weirder “Merry Christmas” than that? Quite possibly not.
I am looking forward to photoing one of these things out in the wild.