Der Bomber

The things you find in your photo-archives, if you are someone like me and you forget two thirds of what you’ve photoed as soon as you’ve photoed it.

This bloke, for instance, whom I photoed somewhere or other in London, I think somewhere near Embankment tube station, way back in 2006:

You see lots of shirts in London with stuff like this on the back, and without reading the small print, I assumed, as I surely assumed at the time I took the photo, that this was a reference to some sort of rock and roll combo, travelling and doing gigs in various places. In this case, it was probably techno-pop, because that’s the sort of music something called “Der Bomber” would do. Bit of a tactless name, though, if they’re trying to make friends while performing in foreign parts.

It was only when I googled “der bomber” that I discovered that this shirt was celebrating the German footballer Gerd Müller. And he wasn’t trying to make friends with foreigners. Her was trying to beat them at football, and more often than not succeeding. And nor was he really having a “Welt Tour”. He was playing in the World Cup, in 1970 in Mexico, and then in 1974 in … Germany.

Photo and learn. Blog and learn.

The passions that used to attach themselves to bombing now have to find another outlet, and that outlet is now, mostly, sport. I believe that in recent months we have experienced what a gap is left in our world when sport is lacking. The sooner our politicians feel able to allow people back into sports stadiums, there to cheer on their preferred “bombers”, the better.

Something by me at Samizdata about feminism and skyscrapers

I have had one of those blogging days. The day was all available for blogging, but instead of me consequently quickly shoving up three or four fabulous little postings here, I got stuck on the first one. So, I eventually let that be and switched to doing another one, a quickie. But that also grew quite a bit, and turned into a piece called On why feminists ought to be glad about skyscrapers. It grew because I found myself also writing about one of the men who designed this place.

At which point, it made sense for me to bestow this piece upon the mass media, my version of which is Samizdata. So if you want something of substance from me today, you will either have to wait and hope, or you’ll be satisfied with merely reading this, or you’ll follow the first of the above links and have a go at reading that.

To answer the question I know you’re asking: yes, there is a big old cock joke in it.

Trump as Republican Party Reptile

I just did some Thoughts on Trump’s Mount Rushmore speech for Samizdata. Here is the complete speech of Trump’s that I was on about, and to which I linked, twice, because I think the fact that we all now can link directly to it is so very good.

Something else I didn’t complicate my Samizdata piece with did occur to me, while I was reading that same speech, and in particular when I read things like this in it:

We are the country of Andrew Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant, and Frederick Douglass. We are the land of Wild Bill Hickok and Buffalo Bill Cody. (Applause.) We are the nation that gave rise to the Wright Brothers, the Tuskegee Airmen – (applause) – Harriet Tubman, Clara Barton, Jesse Owens, George Patton – General George Patton – the great Louie Armstrong, Alan Shepard, Elvis Presley, and Mohammad Ali. (Applause.) And only America could have produced them all. (Applause.) No other place.

We are the culture that put up the Hoover Dam, laid down the highways, and sculpted the skyline of Manhattan. We are the people who dreamed a spectacular dream – it was called: Las Vegas, in the Nevada desert; who built up Miami from the Florida marsh; and who carved our heroes into the face of Mount Rushmore. (Applause.)

Americans harnessed electricity, split the atom, and gave the world the telephone and the Internet. We settled the Wild West, won two World Wars, landed American astronauts on the Moon – and one day very soon, we will plant our flag on Mars.

We gave the world the poetry of Walt Whitman, the stories of Mark Twain, the songs of Irving Berlin, the voice of Ella Fitzgerald, the style of Frank Sinatra – (applause) – the comedy of Bob Hope, the power of the Saturn V rocket, the toughness of the Ford F-150 – (applause) – and the awesome might of the American aircraft carriers.

I’ve read this before, I thought, or something a hell of a lot like it. Yes, a piece in P. J. O.Rourke’s Republican Party Reptile, which was published in 1987, about an epic car journey O’Rourke made across America, in a Ferrari. I read this book in the late eighties. The Ferrari piece in this book would appear to be a slimmed down version of this piece, which was published in Car and Driver, in 1980.

I wrote a Libertarian Alliance pamphlet in praise of O’Rourke’s essay (also in praise of classical CDs), which included big quotes from the 1987 version of O’Rourke’s piece, including things like this:

… To be in control of our destinies – and there is no more profound feeling of control of one’s destiny that I have ever experienced than to drive a Ferrari down a public road at 130 miles an hour. Only God can make a tree, but only man can drive by one that fast. And if the lowly Italians, the lamest, silliest, least stable of our NATO allies, can build a machine like this, just think what it is that we can do. We can smash the atom. We can cure polio. We can fly to the moon if we like. There is nothing we can’t do. Maybe we don’t happen to build Ferraris, but that’s not because there’s anything wrong with America. We just haven’t turned the full light of our intelligence and ability in that direction. We were, you know, busy elsewhere. We may not have Ferraris but just think what our Polaris-submarines are like. And if it feels like this in a Ferrari at 130, my God, what can it possibly feel like at Mach 2.5 in an F-15? Ferrari 308s and F-15s – these are the conveyances of free men. What do the Bolshevik automatons know of destiny and its control? What have we to fear from the barbarous Red hordes?

And like this:

… And rolling through the desert thus, I worked myself into a great patriotic frenzy, which culminated on the parapets of the Hoover Dam (even if that was kind of a socialistic project and built by the Roosevelt in the wheelchair and not by the good one who killed bears). With the Ferrari parked up atop that orgasmic arc of cement, doors flung open and Donna Summer’s “Bad Girls” blasting into the night above the rush of a man-crafted Niagara and the crackle and the hum of mighty dynamos, I was uplifted, transported, ecstatic. A black man in a big, solid Eldorado pulled up next to us and got out to shake our hands. “You passed me this morning down in New Mexico,” he said. “And that sure is a beautiful car. …”.

Note that Mount Rushmore includes, along with Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln: the Roosevelt who killed bears, Teddy Roosevelt, but not the Roosevelt in the wheelchair who presided over the Great Depression. No wonder Democrats are now saying they hate it.

I don’t know what P.J. O’Rourke is up to these days, so whether he had any direct input into Trump’s speech I have no idea. Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t. But I’ll bet you anything that whatever combination of Trump and Trumpsters wrote Trump’s speech at the very least knew all about that O’Rourke piece. I’ll go further. I’ll bet Trump read that O’Rourke piece at some point in the 1980s, and remembered it, and said to his guys: “That’s what I want! Write me something like that!” And they did. Right up to the stuff about cars, and warships, and the Hoover Dam, and about how “there is nothing we can’t do”.

Even if you hate everything about P.J. O’Rourke and everything about Trump and if you especially hate Trump’s speech the other day, you surely may still be agreeing about the O’Rourke echoes I think I heard.

If I’m right, then this is a story which confirms something else I am fond of telling anyone who will listen, which is that all the people alive now will, in thirty or forty years time, either be thirty or forty years older, or dead. You can tell a lot about the world now, by asking what people in their teens and twenties were getting excited about, thirty or forty years ago. There will be more of that.

Of course, I loved Trump’s speech, just as I loved that P.J. O’Rourke Ferrari piece. God is a figment of the human imagination, but setting that quibble aside, may He Bless America.

Cat in Istanbul shop window

As not promised (see below), here’s a rather charming photo that Michael Jennings took in Istanbul last December, of a shop window:

Not just signs, but the place where they’re done from. And a cat. I recall Michael writing, somewhere, somewhen, that there are many cats in Istanbul and that they are very well respected by the humans of that city.

You can always tell how well cats are treated in this or that place that you visit, by how sociably they behave towards you. When cats hide from you, that’s a sign of a nasty neighbourhood, I think.

Friday creatures Twitter dump (3): All the others

Further proof that a dog will put up with just about anything, including being biffed by a cat half its size, if it has been subjugated by humans and if the humans say it mustn’t retaliate.

Well that didn’t take long. So, here are the rest, all in one Twitter dump posting.

Congratulations to Laurence Fox, for standing his ground against the mob. Live long and prosper, Mr Fox, and in the fullness of time become Sir Laurence, for services both to acting and to sanity. (LATER: Fox laughter.)

Also on the subject of acting, my favourite recent Babylon Bee story was this:

Hollywood Actors Pledge Never To Take A Role Where They Have To Pretend To Be Someone Else

Finally:

Saw that here.

That’s it for BMNB today, probably (I don’t promise nothing). I’m off out this evening, to do Something, and it will take several hours for me to get ready.

LATER: Bird carries shark.

EVEN LATER (not Twitter, but I’m dumping it here anyway): Robot jellyfish.

A building can be both an attack on the soul and beautiful

Western Traditionalist says:

Brutalism is an attack on the soul.

And whoever Western Traditionalist is, he or she illustrates this opinion with the following photo, of a building and a sculpture:

This building is the Torre Velasca in Milan, and it would appear that Western Traditionalist found the above photo of it at Wikipedia, where you can learn more about what I think is a very handsome building.

As “brutalism” goes, I don’t believe that the Torre Velasca is especially brutal. I recall liking this building very much, when I was trying to become an architect myself, half a century ago.

But I want to assert an idea that is perhaps rather individual. I agree that “brutalism” was indeed an “attack on the soul”, in the sense that its purpose was, aesthetically speaking, to batter people into accepting it as desirable architecture, rather than in any way charm or please them. And, I now like a lot of the surviving relics of brutalism. Definitely including the not-very-brutalist tower in the photo above.

How come? Well, let me ask you something. Do you think that the castles built by the Norman monarchs of England are beautiful? Many do, now. Thousands visit them, and are charmed by them. But it is undeniable that these buildings, when first built, were “attacks on the soul”, the souls of the native English, whom the Normans were busy subjugating with great brutality. Great brutalism, you might say. Those Norman castles were exercises in military intimidation, not attempts to be the tourist traps that they now are.

Brutalism owes much of its inspiration to military constructions built by the Nazis during World War 2, in places like the northern coastline of France, prior to the Normandy landings. And for as long as brutalism was on the march, so to speak, and threatening the houses and neighbourhoods of the world with demolition, people hated brutalism, and with bloody good reason. People hate any architectural style that seems to be coming straight at them, while seeming not to give a damn what they think of it. Remember that “brutalism” wss the name given to the style by those who invented and preached it. This was not merely an insult label pinned on “brutalism” by enemies and then adopted ironically. The brutalists gloried in being brutal. They were attacking souls.

But so what? Now that brutalism has been stopped in its tracks, is now in retreat, and has become a deeply conservative – indeed downright antiquarian – exercise in conservation and preservation rather than the radical act of aesthetic bullying that it began as, there is no reason for us to be intimidated by it any longer. Brutalism is now picturesque, just like those Norman castles are. And I for one like its surviving structures for exactly the same sorts of reasons that I and millions of others also like Norman castles. Brutalist shapes are interesting rather than always drearily rectangular, their rugged bulk possessing the charm of a mountain range. And I know that me liking these edifices in this kind of way would annoy the annoying people who first unleashed this style, that being, for me, another feature rather than a bug. I hate the idea that anti-brutalists, in the grip of the sort of analysis I have supplied in my previous paragraphs, and egged on by people like Western Traditionalist, might one day destroy all these buildings.

On how I may now not resume buying classical music magazines

Every month for as long as I can remember, I’ve been buying paper copies of Gramophone and the BBC Music Magazine, “Music” being how the BBC refers to classical music.

All over my home, these magazines have accumulated in shelves and in heaps:

I haven’t had these magazines on order, because I don’t trust my neighbours not to let in burglars through the front door we all share, and because I like the exercise of actually walking to a shop and buying these magazines.

Which means that during the recent Plague, I’ve not been getting either of these magazines. The shops where I would have bought them have all been closed.

One of the many changes I am now contemplating in my life is: Not resuming buying these magazines. Are many people now contemplating a similar decision with regard to these or other such printed publications? Surely, they are. Are many people contemplating buying printed publications they do not now buy? I doubt this very much.

If “normal” ever returns, it will, for most of us, in big ways and in small ways, be a different normal, not least among those who publish the magazines like the ones in my photo. It’s not just the obvious ways in which we will remain nervous of the Plague returning, though that will definitely happen also. It’s that by being jolted into doing this for the first time, and not doing that any more, we are all now shedding old habits and being pushed towards acquiring different habits. I try to resist generalisations involving words like “we all now …”, but I really do think that the above generalisations are largely right. (You need only look at the recent numbers for postings here per month at this blog, on the left, to see this kind of thing happening to me and maybe therefore also for you.)

So, habits are being dropped, and acquired. And, are you, like me, and provoked by the above experiences, going beneath and beyond such changes of habit, and asking yourself: What other habits should I now decide to shed, and decide to acquire?

After all, and especially for the likes of me, life has just got shorter.

Today I did Something (and saw five e-scooters (which are cool))

Typically, for the last few months, I have days and days of doing nothing other than whatever I feel inclined to do. On such days, doing two, three or even four blog postings here is doable. But give me a Something that I have to do, and there goes about two thirds of the day.

Once again, I think this is one of the many symptoms of getting old, for poor old me, anyway. Being old, I now need an hour or more to get myself worked up into a sufficiently active state to do the Something in question, and then when it’s done, I need a couple more hours to recover my wits. On a day like that, me doing three or four blog postings is a lot less likely. Today, if you include this one, I will have done three postings. But the first two were very perfunctory, more like tweets done on a blog than your actual blog postings. This one is a bit longer, but that’s just because it’s a ramble.

The silly thing is, the Something I did today was all done and dusted within about one hour. I stepped outside, went to my nearby bank, did my bank business, and then, because the weather was rather filthy, I just went straight home again. But even that made a big dent in my day.

The reason I mention all this is to make that same e-scooter point I’ve been obsessing about here lately, to the effect that e-scooters are about to conquer the world, aka London. Every time I go out, even just to the shops and back, I see several e-scooters. Today, the e-scooter count was: five. That’s a personal record. Five. In the space of less than an hour. I didn’t even try to photo any of them. Like I say, the weather was filthy, and cameras and rain do not mix well. Also, e-scooters are fast and are gone before I can photo them. That they’re fast is why they catching on so fast.

Maybe I should stop this posting now, but here’s another e-scooter thing. A friend with whom I recently discussed my current fascination with e-scooters said: You may be right about why e-scooters make sense. Trouble is: They’re naff. The people who ride on them are twats. E-scooters are not cool.

This friend, however, although far younger than me, is nevertheless no longer of the age where she gets to decide these things. It is teenagers and twenties who determine the coolness of lack of it of things like e-scooters. All my e-scooter sightings today were of teenagers or twenties. Clearly, these teenagers and twenties think that e-scooters are cool enough for them to allow themselves to be seen on them in public, given the advantages to them, in such things as speed and convenience. What old codgers think is only of concern to them if they can be doing something that the codgers disapprove of. If the old codgers, under the delusional impression that they think they can decide such things, think that e-scooters are not cool, so what? That’s just their old codger way of saying they don’t approve. Good. That’s a feature, not a bug. Bring on the e-scooters!

I am still not fully recovered from doing all that tedious Something I did earlier today. So, I reserve the right to go through this tomorrow morning and do whatever grammatical tidying and spell-checking is necessary. As of now, I’m too knackered to bother. I trust it still makes sense, despite whatever communicational blunders now afflict it.

And one scene with no crowd

Last night I did a posting of crowd scenes, all photoed on June 30th 2019.

While gathering those photos together, I also came across this one, photoed by me during that same walkabout, one year and one day ago. It’s quite a contrast, I think you will agree:

He looks like he might have been a very recent arrival, from somewhere rather nearer to Wuhan than London is. At the time, I photoed him simply because here was a human whose face was covered and therefore fair game for blogging.

Did he already know something that we, then, didn’t know?

Crowd scenes by the River a year ago

On June 30th 2019, I was out walking, beyond and then on Tower Bridge, then back along the south side of the River, and then across to Embankment Tube and home. Here are some photos from that day, of crowd scenes:

At the time, I often thought I was photoing something quite other than mere people, in a crowd. At the time, the mere fact of lots of people all bunched up together didn’t mean much. It does now.