Robot dog progress

Researchers publish open-source, lower cost design for 3D printed robot dog.

What are the future applications of of such a “dog”? Some rather unconvincing tasks are mentioned in the above report, like hanging about in a forest “monitoring” animals. But that sounds like green-friendly make-work to me.

Warfare in complicated terrain does seem like an obvious application. Exploring Mars, in other words, and then fighting other robots for the control of Mars. And meanwhile filming it all, for entertainment purposes?

Airplanes flew for quite a long time before they found a major use for them, which was to spy on opposing armies and to make big guns cleverer, and then to fight and kill other airplanes. Then came high tech sport, in the form of air races, which was really just research and development for better and faster war planes.

Around then, also, very tentatively, airplanes began to deliver letters. And then, airplanes began to deliver people, which was to say very rich people. Eventually, half a century after they first flew, airplanes became part of the good life for regular humans.

Robot dogs look like they might follow a similar path. As of now, robot dogs are the robot equivalent of the useless and clumsy contraptions that airplanes were in the nineteen-noughts, good only for lunatics in goggles to play with.

Comments of how these weird creatures might actually make themselves useful, more quickly and less destructively than my grumpy pessimism just said, would be most welcome.

For starters, if these things are ever going to be liked by humans, they’re going to need heads, heads that are more than merely decorative which gather and transmit information. Then, maybe (and I seem to recall speculating along these lines at my long-lost Education Blog): child minding? A combination of such robot-human interaction and transport? Like a sort of super-intelligent horse?

Some well written advice about how to write well

At 6k:

I sort of knew this. I now know it better. I might buy this book. I now need a longer sentence, one that drives the point home a bit, but not too much, because after all I didn’t think of this, I just nicked it.

LATER (also from 6k): Plummenausfahrtwunderschein. In Germany, if you want to drive your point home really hard, you don’t construct a long sentence. You construct a long word.

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.

Cat kindergarten

Why was I not informed about this remarkable building, erected in 2002 in Karlsruhe, Germany, until now?:

I am interested in unusual buildings. On Fridays, I like to do creature-related postings here, which are not just regular cats-or-dogs-doing-endearing-things postings, or at least not always. And, for a while, just after this building was built, I was an education blogger. So, The Internet really should have told me about the Kindergarten Wolfartsweier a decade and a half ago, rather than only yesterday.

The above photo is one of these, of Buildings That Look Like Animals. (Again, this list was published nearly two years ago, and only now am I being told about it. Come on Internet, you can do better than this.)

The Internet only got around to mentioning this building to me because Owen Hopkins has written a book about Postmodern Architecture (subtltled “Less is a Bore”), and The Internet finally deigned to send me an email, linking to an article about this book, at a website called “Luxury London”.

This article is quite informative, but the subheadings that sell it are a bit silly. As usual, the stupidest stuff in media is perpetrated by headline and subheading writers. For insteance, this:

London has become the global epicentre for postmodern architecture …

Which merely means that London, being quite big and quite rich, has quite a bit of postmodern architecture.

And this, which is silly, given what the article is about:

… narcissistic steel-and-glass megaliths of the City …

London is about to start seriously pining for more new narcissistic steel-and-glass megaliths, now that it has stopped building them, for the time being anyway.

What the world now needs is a narcissistic steel-and-glass megalith, shaped like a cat.

“I wish you bad luck …”

I don’t know which of the people I follow on Twitter drew my attention to the tweet that contained the quote that follows, a tweet which has been hanging around on my hard drive ever since I encountered it, but whoever it was, thank you.

There’s probably some computer trickery by means of which I could have straightened this out, but regulars here know that computer trickery is not a great strength of mine, and in any case, here at BMNB you get what you pay for. So, here is the quote, curves and all:

The tweeter who tweeted this, Daniel Negreanu, tells us that this is an excerpt from a commencement speech to a graduating middle school class, given at some time or other, somewhere in America, by someone called John Roberts. There is a bit of discussion below about who this particular John Roberts might be (anyone?), but basically, this is the only thing I have heard by or about him. This quote was in its turn quoted in The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure, by Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff. That being where the curvy graphics came from. A photo presumably.

This is the kind of thing I used to put on my now long defunct Education Blog. Maybe I should start doing more of this kind of thing.

I especially like what he said about luck.

Reflections in blue sunglasses

According to my hard disc, I photoed this photo on October 6th 2004. I fefinitely photoed it with my ancient Canon A70:

Not bad. Clearly visible on the right spectacle lens, as we look, and especially so if you click and make it bigger, is a current architectural obsession of mine, Battersea Power Station.

The guy wearing the glasses was a fellow pupil in a digital photography course, run by my Local Authority, which I participated in. To very little effect on me, I’m afraid. I was then and remain a self-taught pointer-and-clicker, on Automatic. Most of what I have learned is how well pointing-and-clicking on Automatic actually works. Aside from a few wisdoms about light and how to get it on your side, most of what I have learned has concerned what it makes most sense for me to be photoing. As I have noticed more things that I find worth photoing, my photos have got slowly better.

On the left, me. I don’t like regular selfies, with nothing but me. But I do enjoy Alfred Hitchcock type selfies, where I can be glimpsed in photos that are mostly about something else, or at the very least about more than just me.

Perpignan photos

A year ago yesterday I was in St Cyprien, and a year ago today I was in Perpignan. However, I was in Perpignan again on January 9th of this year, when the weather was much better and hence so were my photos. Here is a selection of the photos I took then, there:

Not only was the weather better last January than it had been in April of last year; there was also a temporary Wheel in place (photos 20, 21, 22, 26). And (see photo 9) there was an exhibition on of some photos by former President of France Jacques Chirac. How about that?

A feature of any visit to Perpignan is, or should be, a journey to the department store called Galeries Lafayette (the big white building in photo 18), the views from the top of which are excellent (photos 19-28). The views on the way down from the stairs are pretty good too (photos 28-30).

Other than that, it was the usual. Amusing signs in French, roof clutter, strange plants, pollarded trees, various sorts of sculpture ancient and modern, bridges, left over Christmas signs, a motorbike. All good stuff, and all looking much better in the much better light there was in Perpignan on April 9th. Click and enjoy.

Farce repeating itself as farce

This is rather good:

Seriously, I remember back at Essex University in the early 1970s how the Lenin-with-hair tendency thought that the answer to every problem in the world then was to occupy something, fill it with rubbish and then bugger off and plan their next stupid occupation. They were tossers then, and they, their children and their grandchildren are tossers now. Farce repeating itself as farce.

It’s no surprise that I think it good, because I wrote it and posted it on Samizdata, in October 2011, in connection with the Occupy Movement. This was long enough ago for me to have completely forgotten having posted it. But I thought it good at the time, or I’d not have posted it. Everyone thinks what they post is good, or they should. I mean, if you don’t think that what you have just posted is good, why the hell did you post it?

I came across this when trying to find out how many mentions I have made on Samizdata about my time at Essex University, and in particular if I had ever told the story of how the student politicians wanted to give us Drama Society geeks a small grant, so that they could then take a large amount of credit for everything we had been doing. It seems that this story is yet to be told. I hope to tell it soon, but promise nothing. Short summary: we refused the grant.

KC Gandhi squeak a win

Churchy just tweeted this:

He doesn’t say where he found it.

Having got to a thousand, Dhanawade then wanted to dig in and make it a big thousand. But he was cruelly cut short, just as he was getting into his stride.

Well, no. Proper report here. Happened way back in January 2016. I vaguely heard about this, or read about it and forgot, or something. Nice to nail it down.