Meeting Oscar again

One of the first things I did in France, after I got off the plane and had been driven by my hosts to their home, was to meet up with Oscar again. Remember Oscar? Oscar is the cat, who got lost and found, partly thanks to the photos I took of him, but mostly because of GodDaughter2’s social media expertise. She located him, in France, while not even being in France.

Here is one of the first photos I photoed of Oscar this time around:

I like that photo because it looks like we’re are looking at each other horizontally, but are actually …:

… looking at each other vertically, him upwards and me photoing downwards. Those being my feet, at the bottom there. On the right, the light of the south of France on the floor of the balcony outside the bedroom I was in.

The earlier photos I linked back to were taken in their Brittany home, but now my friends are more permanently in Thuir, way down south, near Perpignan. Oscar doesn’t like car journeys (stuck in a small prison hardly bigger than he is), but he has no objections to actually being in a different house. Somewhere new to explore.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Columbia Road cat

Yes, a rather excellent James Bond villain cat, photoed in London’s Columbia Road, in the Bethnal Green part of town:

Found in the Instagram feed (click on that for her most recently instagrammed photo) of this lady friend.

Columbia road is, as other photos in this set make clear, noted for its flower market.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Statue with roof clutter

You know how it is. You go hunting, in your voluminous photo-archives, for a favourite recent photo, and damn it, you can’t for the life of you find it. But you find other nice photos, and you stick them up on your blog instead. We’ve all been there.

But today I did the opposite of that. I went looking for some nice photos to stick up here, and discovered a very favourite photo, which I had previously searched for without success.

This photo was photoed outside Westminster Abbey and looking up Victoria Street. You can surely see why I like it.

Number one, it’s a statue. I like statues, because I do, and in particular because they tend not to be mass produced, which means they immediately tell you where you are. You are next to this statue. There it is. You can’t be anywhere else. Knowing where you are is, I think, greatly to be preferred to not knowing where you are. But even worse is when by the nature of the objects around you, you cannot learn where you are, because all the objects in your vicinity can tell you is that you could be anywhere.

And, number two reason why I like this photo is that behind the statue, and with the most prominent bit of it clearly lined up to be directly behind the statue but safely above it, there is roof clutter. Not roof clutter that is uniquely voluminous, but still pretty good. And mistily lit, in such a way that the building upon whose roof the clutter is cluttered does not upstage the statue by rendering it invisible.

The greenery on the right and the building bottom right I am less keen on, but they are, I hope you agree, not too annoying. To the left, there was some somewhat more annoying stuff, which meant that the cropping on the left isn’t ideal. But all-in-all, I like it a lot.

The statue is this one. And the building behind it is called, at any rate by people trying to sell you office space in it, is called Windsor House. I know it as that quite Big Thing next to the Albert.

This being Friday, is there a Cats or Other Creatures connection? Well, yes: cats. Big cats. Four lions which are to be seen at the bottom of the column upon which the bloke scratching his back with a backscratcher is perched. These lions do not appear in my photo, but there are there, at the bottom of the statue.

Also, the bloke on the top who seems to be scratching his back with a backscratcher is actually St George, and he has a dragon under his feet, which he is getting ready to clobber with a sword.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Rob Fisher on the meaning of Facebook

Here are what I suspect to be some wise words, from Rob Fisher, in a comment on this Samizdata posting I recently did about Facebook’s political bias:

Facebook is for cat pictures, baby photos and holiday photos. I recently posted some photos of some old model trains I have and another friend offered to give me some old toy trains they don’t want any more. That’s what it’s for.

People trying to do politics on Facebook serves only to demonstrate how unsuited it is for that purpose.

That’s comment number 42, and very possibly the last word on the matter.

Like I say, this sounds wise, in the sense that it seems to contain an important truth, even if it doesn’t really sound like the whole truth. After all, I just did another posting here about something political which I first heard about on Facebook.

Here is a photo of Rob’s toy trains that he recently posted on Facebook:

Am I betraying a confidence, meant only for Rob’s Facebook friends? Hardly, since Rob has already mentioned his trains on the Mainstream Media, in a comment at Samizdata.

It occurs to me that I have some toy trains that Rob might like. Like because I think they are N gauge, but perhaps something even smaller. Rob, if you read this, take a look at them next time you visit me.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Chat perdu :( (et retrouvée)

Those photos of Oscar would appear to have made quite a difference to Oscar’s life, because he went missing last Monday, and three of these photos helped to find him and get him home again:

GodDaughter2 will be telling me more about all this soon. Like: Were there any other recent photos of Oscar that would have worked the same trick? I don’t want to jump to conclusions, as people say when they do want to jump to conclusions, but maybe without my photos, Oscar would have ended up having a totally different life.

The heart of the operation was the much grumbled-about social media. The above poster was concocted in London by a friend of GD2’s, and then socially media-ed all over the local area in France. Facebook, take a bow. In addition to being an actual friend of mine, GD2 is a Facebook “friend”, but I hadn’t been paying attention to her Oscar postings, until she phoned and then emailed me about all this excitement:

About 300 people shared various posts I posted on Facebook to find Oscar. He left Monday, I started looking for him last night and we got him today!

GD2 made all this happen while in London, that email having arrived was yesterday, last night being Wednesday evening. It seems that Oscar, having got lost, was then cared for by another family. But when, thanks to the above social media activity, they got in touch and Oscar got back to his original carers, GD2’s family, he apparently spent many hours sleeping, which is not the routine I recall when I was there. This tells to me that he was very stressed while away, and was relieved to be home. With home needing no sneer quotes, the way it might with some cats.

6k has also been impressed by these Oscar photos, this one in particular …:

…, and he has been making that the basis of various would-be internet memes, of which this one is the latest:

Reuniting lost loved-ones is a classic excuse for the Total Surveillance World we now live in.

And actually (see above (sometimes)) quite a good excuse. If I, or someone, had not been surveilling Oscar, he might still be lost.

I also remember how, in the past, GD2’s parents would grumble about how much time she would spend social-media-ing, instead of doing “real” things, like sleep or homework. But finding Oscar was very real.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Photos of Oscar

My friends in Brittany have a new cat: Oscar. (He replaces this cat.)

I, of course, took many photos. I like these ones:

And I like this one best of all:

Oscar has reached the stage in life where he is still a kitten in his behaviour, but not any longer in his appearance. Sort of a cat teenager.

Oscar has a very short attention span, and is currently programmed to check out everything he sees, like some obsessively exploratory robot. He sees a lot and he keeps on seeing something else.

So, for instance, you click your fingers at him to initiate some sociability, and he sees that, and runs towards you, but then, while still on his way towards you, he sees something else behind you, and carries right on towards that, after only the most perfunctory acknowledgement of your fingers, in which he has already lost interest several tenths of a second earlier. Or he has simply forgotten why he is in motion, and he just carries on. Very strange.

But as he calms down, he will presumably start to treat people more in the way they like to be treated. When I took an afternoon nap, he also fancied a nap and had his on top of me. But, had there been a more satisfactory household appliance, like a warm fire, he might well have preferred that to curl up next to that. It didn’t seem personal, just a matter of comfort.

But I still liked him. Cats are just so likeable, whether they are actually being likeable, in their own minds, or not. All they have to be is non-objectionable and not too scared to check you out.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Dr Salter’s imaginary cat statue

Indeed:

I took all these statue photos yesterday, in a walk with GodDaughter 2 that I have already referred to, which started at the Shard (see below), Tower Bridge, and nearby places, and ended … well, quite a way downstream.

As often happens, my favourite photo of this subject was the first one I took. But I also liked this next one, which neglects what seems to be the usual Big Things of The City background and adds only wall and water:

The explanation of the rather odd title of this posting is that what we have here is not so much a group of statues as a drama acted out by a group of statues. Dr Salter (see below) is looking on at his small daughter, and at her cat. But it is all taking place in his imagination, because the small daughter died tragically young. It is all very well explained, with more pictures, here. Follow that link, and you’ll even find a map of exactly where this all is.

The drama gets an extra layer of drama, because the original statue of Dr Salter was stolen, for its value as scrap metal. I think I preferred the stolen one, but here is the replacement, with the addition of a young man with tattoos:

The tattoos on the front of that guy were remarkable, and I regret now not asking him to let me photo them. I know, I know, creepy. But if he had said yes, I would have been delighted, and if he had said no that’s creepy, I’d have got over it.

Mrs (Ada) Salter also looks on, and these two headshots of her came out quite well too:

While taking these photos, or maybe it was a bit later, I found myself musing aloud to GD2 (with her agreeing) that people seem greatly to prefer statues that are very clearly statues, made out of some sort of monochrome material such as stone or metal, rather than something more realistically coloured, a fact which has, from time to time, puzzled me. Were the latter procedure to be followed, people wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between statues and actual people, and this would freak them out.

A “realistic” painting or photo of a person is actually not realistic at all. People are complicated in shape. Paintings and photos are flat. So, if you encounter a photo or a painting of a person, even if it’s life size, there is no possibility that you will be duped into introducing yourself to it or asking it for directions. But if you encounter a genuinely realistic 3D statue of a person, only its deeply unnatural stillness would eventually tell you that this is not a real person. And this would be awkward to be dealing with on a regular basis.

A giant statue of someone, realistically coloured, might be okay. After all, miniature statues (go into any toy shop or gift shop to see what I mean) already are okay. Just as with a tiny but realistically coloured person statue, you could tell at once that a giant realistically coloured person statue was only a statue rather than a real person.

A giant cat statue, on the other hand, probably wouldn’t be a good idea. People might think: Woooaaarrrrgggghhh!!! A giant cat!!! Get me out of here now!

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Exit Caesar

One of the many pleasures of visiting my friends in Quimper, i.e. Goddaughter 2 and her family, is their cat, who is called Caesar. Is? Alas: was. When I said goodbye to Caesar before coming back home last January, I feared that I’d not be seeing him again, and so it has proved, all too quickly. A few days ago his faltering liver finally gave out completely, and to spare him more grief and pain he was put to sleep.

I took no photos of Caesar when I visited for the New Year, but took several last August, when I last visited. Here is one of those pictures:

I took that at the same time I took the two photos of Caesar in this earlier posting. If you try, you can imagine from that picture that Caesar has only two legs and is standing upright. Not that you’d want to.

He is and will continue to be much missed.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog