Other creature news

In among all the vile bile, Twitter continues to serve up good Other Creatures news, especially in video form.

Here, for instance, is evidence that when it comes to shifting stuff around, while simultaneously showing a bit of common sense, robots would appear to have some way to go before they will be entirely replacing the working class.

Here is a delightful photo of two pigeons, who are checking out a photographer who is trying to photo a ceiling.

And, in otter news, here are otters doing something very strange, under a tree, in what turns out to be Singapore.

Meanwhile, via (the rest of) the blogosphere (David Thompson to be exact), an amplified cat and dogs who ate bees. The dogs look so happy, especially given how very unhappy they must feel.

On a more melancholy note, Mich Hartley tells of the Soviet whale “decimation” of the middle of the twentieth century. Decimation however, is surely the wrong word. It was far worse than that. The writer whom Hartley quotes seems to think this means killing nine out of ten, because he talks of whale species being “driven to the edge of extintion”. But decimation wasn’t killing nine out of ten members of a Roman legion. It was killing one in every ten. It was to punish, not to extinguish, a legion. That verbal quibble aside, there can’t be too many reports of what an insanely destructive economic system the USSR imposed upon all its victims. And its victims were not only human.

Black Drongo and Crested Serpent-eagle + snake

Taiwan Birds (well worth a long scroll down there (some truly amazing birds (I think))) yesterday featured this remarkable photo …:

…, and has this to say about it:

Congratulations to Chen Chen-kuang … for winning the Hamdan HIPA Prize for his shot of a …

… see above.

And there was me thinking that “Drongo” was just a word made up by Australians to describe … drongos. Apparently drongos really exist, and presumably drongos behave in a way that Australians disapprove of.

Taiwan Birds adds:

Never leave your camera behind! And spend years refining your skills …

Indeed.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Modern Art

I don’t hate paintings that look like this, as so many paintings of a certain vintage do. Hatred is for things you can’t avoid and mere paintings can usually be avoided with ease. But I don’t respect paintings that look like this:

But that isn’t a painting. It looks like a painting. But, it’s a photo. And I really like it.

It was photoed by Real Photographer Charlie Waite. Read his tweet about it here.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

A weekend without the Six Nations

Being logical about it, there are five Six Nations weekends each year, during which each of the Six Nations plays all the other Five Nations, and there are forty seven Six Nationsless weekends. But Six Nationalists like me know which weekends I am talking about. I’m talking about the one between week 2 and week 3 and the one between week 3 and week 4. The Six Nations is happening. But, it’s not. The Six Nations is under way. But it’s stuck. I have just endured the first of these two weird ordeals.

But in between these two black holes of non-Six Nationsness, the key game of this year’s entire Six Nations, Wales v England will be happening, in Cardiff. Both England and Wales have won their first two games, and only they can each still win a Grand Slam. England, with their three South Sea Island hulks playing, have been unbeatable, so far. And they have many times started out unbeatably against Wales. But then the Welsh play catch-up rugby, which is a game that they, unlike any other Six Nation these days, can actually play, and they often then win, despite England’s scrum being on top for the whole game. So I am taking nothing for granted. Especially when you consider that England will have only one Vunipola playing, the other one having hurt himself against France, as earlier noted here. But England will have a Tuilagi playing, in addition to the surviving Vunipola, so I just about fancy them to win.

Meanwhile, how did I survive the recently concluded weekend? Well, there were two good cricket matches to be following. There was an amazing test match between South Africa and Sri Lanka, which SL won by one wicket, following an unbeaten last wicket stand of 78, and what was clearly a wonderful 153 not out by their wicketkeeper Kusal Perera.

Here’s a picture of Perera celebrating that amazing win:

But, note those empty seats. I wonder how many people actually paid to be present at this game. Rather few, if that’s anything to go by. People are now saying, as they have been for many years, that Test Cricket is dying. But it keeps being interesting, in a way that the other crickets now played can’t ever really match, any more than a number one pop song can quite match a Bruckner Symphony. That’s if you like Bruckner symphonies.

The other good cricket game was one of those other crickets games, the final (finally) of the Big Bash League, contested between the Melbourne Poisonous Spiders and the Melbourne Big Hairy Bastards. Or some such belligerently metaphorical contestants. It was definitely Melbourne v Melbourne. Melbourne won, but not before Melbourne had looked certain to win but then suddenly collapsed, allowing Melbourne to snatch the trophy.

The two semi-finals having happened on Thursday and Friday mornings, I was up promptly on Sunday morning to follow this game. But it happened in the Australian afternoon instead of in the evening, and it was all done when I clicked in. Oh well. It was fun to read about.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Neo Bankside residents lose battle to stop Tate Modern visitors looking into their flats

Here. The verdict is: They knew what they were moving into. They should install blinds or net curtains.

Or, turn the viewable-from-the-Tate-Extension living rooms into art installations. The judge didn’t say that; I’m saying that now.

I’m rather surprised by this verdict, but also pleased. Because this is now one of my favourite London photo-spots, and there is lots to be seen looking south, besides into other people’s living rooms.

From this spot I have photoed many, many photos, of which these are just four, taken in July and August of 2016:

Those photos all illustrate the problem that the flat-owners now have.

But, this next little clutch of photos, taken at the same time, illustrate what could be another answer:

In these photos, what dominates is the way that light, rather than coming through the window from those living rooms, is instead coming from outdoors London and bouncing off the windows. At the time I took these photos, I was thinking about that (to me) rather appealing crinkly brick surface that this Tate Modern Extension is covered in.

But now, it seems to me that I was photoing another sort of answer to the problem that these flat-dwellers now have. Could the glass windows be replaced by glass that is more reflective of light, while still letting the outside view in? Or, could the existing windows have some sort of plastic film or sheet stuck on them, preferably on the inside but maybe on the outside, that would contrive the same effect?

A problem stated is often well on the way to being a problem solved. The judge said: It’s up to you to stop the light bouncing off the interior of your home from zooming up to the onlookers at the top of the Tate. You knew this was going to happen. Sort the problem yourselves.

It will be interesting to see how things change with these windows, and inside these living rooms, in the months and years to come.

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

A flash photo of Stephen Davies

I just spent all my blogging time on another Samizdata posting, about Stephen Davies, the historian, who works for the Institute of Economic Affairs.

I included this photo in that posting:

I took this photo with my very first digital camera, a Minolta Dimage EX.

I chose this camera because it offered the strange – then or since then – feature that you could separate its flash … thingy, from the bit of the camera that did the actual photoing. I had to have flash, because indoor photoing of the people I wanted to photo without flash just did not then work. Direct in-your-face flash was a feature of photo-portraiture at that time, and not in a good way. But with my Minolta Dimage EX, I could hold the lens out to the left, at the other end of a length of wire, and thus light my victim not from head on. I could shift the shadow from directly behind to off to the side, as in the above photo of Steve Davies.

I still have this old Minolta, somewhere. I must dig it out, and photo it. But not tonight. Tonight, early (ish) bed. Tomorrow, a party, for which I am very late with the preparations. So, that is all.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog