Switching from here to Samizdata

Inspired by this Daniel Hannan tweet, I just did a piece for Samizdata entitled It was the New Deal which put the Great in the Great Depression.

I began it as a piece for here, but I then reckoned it should go to there. Making that switch was helped a lot by the fact that Samizdata is a blog powered by WordPress, and so, now, is mine.

Signs in Seattle

Here:

I agree with what Matthew Continetti says in this piece, which the above photo adorns, that this is froth. History as farce, Tom Wolf style. This “Seattle Soviet” is going nowhere. It’s “signs and notices”, to quote one of my more frequent categories here, rather than revolutionary architecture of any substance. That being why the above photo is the most informative one I have seen concerning these dramas.

As Kurt Schlichter (who his now being seriously noticed by his enemies) says, the important thing about this Seattle drama is the impact it has on the forthcoming Presidential election in November. Will Trump get the blame for it? Or will the local Democrat politicians? And by extension, the Democrats nationally? Schlichter says the Democrats will get the blame for this Seattle farce, this being why Trump is leaving the local Democrats to not deal with it, until America landslides in his favour. “Silent majority” and all that.

Schlichter combines partisan rhetoric way beyond the point of self-parody with very shrewd observations and analysis. I read him regularly. He is like one of those crazy American lawyers, who seems insane, yet who is taken very seriously, and for good reasons, by his enemies. And as I understand him, which is only a bit, this is because Schlichter is one of those crazy American lawyers, who seems insane, yet who is taken very seriously, and for good reasons, by his enemies.

Get your fake-photos Rendaroed

So I open up Guido Fawkes to see what political bullshit is happening (that posting being an example of Guido at his considerable best) and top right, there’s an advert for something along the lines of (it’s gone now so I cannot be exact) “3D renderings of 2D architectural plans”. Having long wondered about who does all those fake-photos, like the ones that I like to stick up here from time to time, such as the ones in this earlier posting here about a possible new City of London concert hall. (I wonder how that’s coming along.) So, I click on the advert, and find my way to Rendaro.

Here is a fake-photo example of their work:

What I would really like (Google?) would be an advert by an enterprise which which 3D prints 3D models from 2D architectural plans, and better still, somewhere I could go and take a personal look at such 3D models. And where I could photo them.

But meanwhile, these fake-photos are a fascinating fact about modern life, and especially modern architectural life. They mean that both architects and designers can see what they are cooking up even as they do their cooking (the design equivalent of sticking your finger in the stew and sucking it), and all manner of onlookers can look over the shoulders of the designers, and also see what’s being cooked up. People like me can see London’s Big Things coming, years before they’re actually built, while still having time for a life doing other things besides.

However, the very ease with which these 3D renderings can be churned out has the paradoxical consequence that, unless you are paying very careful attention (that is, unless paying such attention is your full-time (see above) job) you can never be sure what will actually end up getting built. I, for instance, constantly image-google for some London Big Thing that I happen to hear about which is in the planning permission pipeline, and I immediately get half a dozen different visual versions of it, each recording a particular stage that the design went through while they were trying to get decide what they wanted and then trying to get permission for it from the politicians.

Which means, strangely, that the only way that you can be sure how a new London Big Thing will actually end up looking is to go there and actually look at it when they’re actually building it, and see if there are any fake-photos of what they’re actually doing on the outside of the actual fence around the actual site. Failing that, you just have to wait and see. See, that is, the actual Thing itself.

BMNB QotD: Silence

Michael Tracey:

I don’t think it’s accurate that “silence” automatically equals “complicity” or “violence.” Sometimes people are “silent” because they have complicated views about a complicated subject, and decline to mindlessly repeat whatever clich├ęs you are trying to force down their throat.

Which I only got to read because Steve Stewart-Williams (plus another of my followees Claire Lehmann) liked it. (See also: this posting here (also made possible by SS-W liking and linking to something) which told me about this bit of video about dentistry.)

Am now following Michael Tracey. So far? Disappointed. Says he’s “friend to all dogs”, but have scrolled and scrolled, but have found no canine references at all. Just him not being silent about all the rioting and posturing. But it’s all good knockabout stuff, and he’s still right about silence.

Candace Owens – alarm clock for black America

My thanks to Scott Adams for telling me about this video speech to camera by Candace Owens. (When I watched this video at the Scott Adams twitter feed, the top of her head was sliced off, sometimes even including her eyes. Not recommended.)

The heart of what Candace Owens says about the dramas now unfolding in America is that black Americans are the only ethnic group in American who make martyrs and heroes out of their worst people, i.e. petty and not-so-petty criminals who come to bad ends. George Floyd is now all over T-shirts, but he was actually, first, a petty criminal, and then a not-so-petty criminal, as Owens explains. By martyrising and glorifying wickedness and failure, you set yourself up for a life of wickedness and failure. And mostly: just failure.

What Candace Owens says seems to me, and to Scott Adams, very persuasive. I hope it will prove persuasive to those whom it is most particularly aimed at, which is black Americans. But what Owens says is partly aimed at old non-black guys like me and Scott Adams, because what she says is also universally appealing wisdom. Wise people don’t do this! Owens has certainly done nothing to stop me hearing this speech of hers.

A twitter commenter says that Owens will become America’s first female black President. But Owens is surely in the meantime attempting something smaller and more immediate than that, and in the longer run potentially bigger and better than that.

The “alarm clock” reference comes towards the end of the video.

In which Patrick Crozier tells me that the Americans could and should have won the Vietnam War

This was in the course of our latest recorded conversation, which we had over the phone (by which I mean my phone and his computer) last Wednesday, and which has just been posted at Croziervision, with further verbals from Patrick.

Which I recommend, even if you don’t listen to the thing itself. Patrick’s posting is even more informative and full of pertinent links than usual. In particular, I draw your attention to the link concerning the Case-Church Amendment, which Patrick identifies as the moment (it happened in June 1973) when an American victory, having been pretty much won on the battlefield, was then thrown away by the US Congress.

Adam Nathaniel Furman – Colourful Modernist

Here we go. Colourful Modernism is on the up-and-up:

Design education “brainwashes” students into rejecting colour, pattern and ornament, according to Adam Nathaniel Furman, who said a group of London designers is finally overcoming bias against their use.

Furman named the movement “New London Fabulous” and described it as “design and architecture as a visual and cultural pursuit, which is highly aesthetic, sensual and celebratory of mixed cultures”.

The thing you have to understand about “architecture” (as opposed to just shoving up machines for living and/or working in) is that famous architects do most of it, and you have to work long and hard to become one of these people. What designers and architects aged around 35-40 are fantasising is not what gets done, except on a very small scale.

Architecture is not like Art. Art, you can actually do, now, whoever you are. You don’t need a room full of old people to all agree to spend a huge amount of money on it. (It helps that in addition to costing nothing, Art doesn’t have to “work”, as in: not collapse and not leak, and so forth.) But “architecture” needs just this sort of tedious functionality. So, you need to have spent a life-time impressing the clusters of old people who matter, persuading them that you are a safe enough pair of hands as well as a genius, blah blah. Your contemporaries with proper jobs, basically. So, you spend your life doing architectural propaganda and publicity. You do manifestos, books, essays, and little design jobs that attract disproportionate attention, given their often humiliating size (i.e. lack of it). Like Adam Nathaniel Furman is doing. Then, when you’re about sixty, the old men may pick you from the ranks of all the propagandists and visionaries, and let you build a bank headquarters building or an apartment tower or a museum, and that’s your chance. If that stays up, doesn’t leak, and attracts tourists and sells in miniature form in tourist shops and on postcards – if it is declared to be “iconic”, you then have the rest of your life to go on doing “architecture”. You become, as we now say, a Starchitect. Main rule to follow then: stay alive as long as you can.

Notice how Furman is both turning his back on “Modernism” and yet not doing this. His stuff, if and when he ever builds much of it, will still look “modern”. It is merely that he is utterly rejecting one of the founding principles of Modernism. He embraces colour, and also “pattern and ornament”. As he points out, “Modernism” as originally proclaimed, was often quite colourful. But the colours were just painted on. Colour was not stuck on, in an obviously colourful way. “Applied ornament” was an object of hatred and contempt for the original Modernists, and in practise, as we know, they and their followers mostly shunned bright colours also. Furman intends to apply ornament with colourful abandon.

But, not the old sort of ornament that the Victorians liked to do, and against whom the original Modernists reacted with such disgust. Furman is proposing enough of a change to enable architecture fans like me to see something big happening. What he is not saying, merely because Ancientists also like “pattern and ornament”, is that he actually wants to be an Ancientist himself. Perish the thought. He wants to “celebrate all cultures”, rather than just ours as it used to be.

Personally, I find Furman’s “fabulous” designs more than somewhat garish and over-the-top. But then, I almost always dislike strikingly new architecture, until I see it and get used to it. And whether I personally end up liking whatever Furman builds or not, in London it will fit right in. Why shouldn’t it? Everything else does.

That WW2 bombing offensive podcast – It’s up!

I’ve said it before, at the end of the last posting here, and I’ll say it again, at the beginning of this posting: It’s up. It being Patrick and me talking about the World War 2 bombing offensive. Patrick got it posted and listenable to less than a day after we recorded it. My salutations to him.

As you can see if you follow Patrick’s link, just by the notes Patrick offers, we meander a bit, as we do, but I hope not too intolerably.

I’ll add here a few things that Patrick doesn’t mention. Here are three blog postings by me, two here and one at Samizdata: The amazing Merlin; Dowding’s amazing lack of tact: The strange birth of the Avro Lancaster. Also, here’s a book that Patrick doesn’t mention in his notes but which I do mention in the podcast: A biography of Bomber Harris.

Our next phone conversation, we now think, will be about the Vietnam War. I made most of the running in this last one, but on the subject of Vietnam Patrick will be laying out the story, and I’ll be clarifying, or at least I hope I will. His basic thesis: The Americans won it, and then threw it away. My question, as of now, is: Did the rapprochement with China, and subsequent (consequent?) US victory in the Cold War, have something to do with the “throwing it away” bit?

You can listen to any, some or all of our recent podcasts by going here.

Alex Singleton’s website

Yes, incoming from Alex Singleton:

Hi Brian,

Hope you are keeping well.

I thought you might find this amusing – a full and frank confession of my time as a teenager:

https://www.alexsingleton.com/diversions/fast-times-at-dulwich-college/

Best wishes,
Alex

The link above took me to a website entry adorned with this photo of the architectural splendidness that is Dulwich College:

Alex Singleton is a PR person. Not just any PR person, the PR person who wrote The PR Masterclass, which I possess and recommend, and about which, google reminds me, I wrote about the launch of in this rather ancient blog post.

Blog post summary:

If you hold a book launch for a book called “PR Masterclass”, that launch had better be packed out, or you look like a prune.

It was. He didn’t.

I get emails similar to the email Alex just sent me on a daily basis. However, they are usually much longer and duller and they usually refer to my Old Blog, which hardly inspires confidence. They just got my email from some random list. It tells you something about Alex Singleton’s skills as a PR person that I have reproduced his email in full. I assume Alex wants his website, which I’ve not seen before (certainly not this Dulwich piece), to be noticed. Hence this posting.

Alex is the kind of person who has lots of friends. But speaking as one of them, I never feel he is exploiting me when I get an email like the one above. There’s no pressure, not least because it reads like it took him only about fifteen seconds to write, and like he was sending out lots of other personalised emails to other friends at the same time. Maybe this was a mass mailing, with identical wording to all of us, but it doesn’t feel like that to me.

I had a rootle around in the website. Politically, Alex is a Free Marketeer. He doesn’t bang on about this at excessive length, but nor does he hide this fact, which I like. But mostly, it’s about how he does PR and about how he learned this.

He is upfront also in saying that the point of the website is to develop his personal brand. So many people in advertising and marketing forget to do this. They advertise everything, and do marketing for everyone, except for themselves. But if you can’t even drum up business for yourself, why would anyone else trust you to do the same for them? Being a PR person and being a bit pushy about it makes perfect sense.