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Category archive: Other creatures

Monday March 19 2018

For two reasons.  First, England came second to bottom, which is not the usual arrangement at all.  It is now being said that they were tired, from playing too much rugby for their clubs and before that for the British Lions.

But the other reason this was a strange end to the Six Nations was the weather.  The last weekend of the Six Nations is supposed to be a day where all we rugby couch potatoes celebrate that Winter is well and truly over, that Spring is here, and that we can finally rise up out of our couches and venture out properly into the first serious sunshine of the new year, for hours at a time.

Instead, along with England doing really badly in the rugby, it was like this:


Click on that to get the bigger picture.  That’s GodDaughter2 weekending out in the countryside, in Hampshire or some such county out there.  That photo was taken by her, on the same day that England got beaten by Ireland at Twickenham, where it also snowed.  Which was all part of why England did so badly, I think.  For Ireland, the worse the weather is the better they like it.

According to the short-term weather forecasters, who are the only weather forecasters I take seriously, this second cold snap will soon be done, and then Spring can finally get started.

Friday March 16 2018

I’m trying to wrench my sleep patterns back into something like sanity, and this now leaves me very tired.  Which is the plan working, but it makes blogging rather difficult.  So, today, one photo, and that’s your lot:


Plus, although I’m tired, here is a detail, that emphasises the flamingo aspect:


The relevant bit of the website.

Monday March 12 2018

On March 21st, Roz Watkins, author of The Devil’s Dice, will be signing copies of that book at Waterstone’s Piccadilly, an event which I will attend.  This afternoon, finding myself in that part of London on account of needing a new battery for my ancient Casio watch, I dropped in on Waterstones to see what, if anything, they were doing with the book.

They had just one copy on show, in a New Crime Hardbacks display:


Can you spot it?  Memo to self: If I ever design a book cover, make the title on the front either in dark lettering with a light background, or with light lettering on a dark background.  The Devil’s Dice, with its light orange title on a light coloured sky, is second from the right, bottom row (on account of Watkins beginning with W).  Another memo to self: When I become a published author, have a surname starting with a letter near the beginning of the alphabet, rather than almost at the end.

Anyway, here’s a close-up of it, just so you know it was really there:


I needed another copy of the book, because I gave the advance copy Roz sent me to someone else.  But I was reluctant to buy the only copy of The Devil’s Dice that they had on show, thus depriving Waterstonians of any further sight of it.  I asked at the desk if they had a paperback.  Oh no, they said, not for at least six months.  I asked if they had any more copies on order.  Yes, said the lady, sounding rather impressed when her computer told her, we have eighty copies coming, ordered this morning.

I have no idea what that means.  Maybe those copies are just for the book signing, and maybe many will be sent back after that.  But maybe this is good, and reflects how well the original launch in Derby went, assuming that this did go well.  Anyway, with eighty more copies on their way to Waterstones, I bought that one copy that they had today.

See also, The Devil’s Dice with dog, in Waterstones Brighton.  Again, right down by the floor with the other Ws.

Friday March 09 2018

As a Blackadder fan, I have long known about the use of pigeons during World War 1, to send messages.  Pigeons like the one in this photo:


Twitter caption:

War Pigeons were very effectively deployed in the First World War. For instance, they carried messages, like the one being attached to a pigeon by Austro-Hungarian soldiers on the Isonzo Front, which can be seen in this picture.

Quite so.  But what made me decide to post the above photo here was this exchange, in the comments.


Were they normally encrypted?

Wayne Meyer:

They used WEP. Wartime Encryption for Pigeons. It was a very early wireless standard.

Blog and learn.  Not only did I just discover that pigeon messages were – of course, they’d have to have been – encrypted.  I also learned that you can link directly to individual Twitter comments.

And what better way could there to learn about the activities of birds than via Twitter?

Saturday March 03 2018

In other face recognition news, the Sydney Morning Herald reports that the Big Prawn is having its face blurred out of photos on Google Maps.

The problem Google faced was that recognisable people with recognisable faces were showing up on Google Maps, owing to the accident of where they happened to be when the Google Maps photos happened to be taken.  So, they introduced a face recognition programme with a difference.  Every time a face was recognised to be a face, that face was blurred into unrecognisability in the final Google Maps photos.

And this also got done to the Big Prawn.

The Big Prawn is a giant sculpture, presumably an advert for a place where you can eat regular sized prawns.  No, not according to Wikipedia.  It’s just a big prawn.

In Australia, it would seem that Big Thing means something different to what I mean by this phrase.

A cow also got its face blurred over.

Confining Cats and Other Creatures postings to Friday is becoming difficult.  These days, as on this day, I often don’t bother.

Tuesday February 27 2018

A commenter on the piece I did yesterday at Samizdata, about Twitter and about Facebook, says of Twitter (the one I now greatly prefer), that it is …:

… like entering a beehive. Opinionated fools screaming at each other. ...

I know what this commenter means.  Personally, I like a bit of opinionated screaming, in among the other stuff I follow.  But I already think I know enough about how Twitter works to believe that if Twitter is a beehive and if you don’t like that, then you should be following different people.  And that’s pretty easy to make happen.

My Twitter is partly beehive, but partly it is other kinder, gentler things.  So, for instance, one of the people I follow pointed me to this, I think, excellent photo, of an owl:


I don’t know if you think that’s as good as I think it is, but you would surely agree that this photo is not an opinionated fool screaming at another opinionated fool.  I have added the lady who took this photo, The Afternoon Birder, to my following list.

I have lost track of who it was of my followees that I should be thanking for linking to that.  Twitter is difficult like that.  I rather think that it has a habit of muddling up the order in which postings (tweets) appear, in such a way that scrolling back to find a particular one gets difficult.

Saturday February 24 2018

No, I’ve not bought yet another camera.  I refer to the new Panasonic Lumix FZ150 that I bought myself, as a late Christmas present, in January 2012.  When I look back through my photo-archives it becomes clearer and clearer that this was the moment when my photos really started looking pretty.

On February 1st 2012, I posted nine of the photos I had taken on January 30th, of my fellow digital photographers.  Here are nine more photos of photoers, that I took on that same expedition:


In these photos, we observe some dedicated photographers, with their SLRs, some hobbyists with what are still only cheap cameras, and, inexorably on the rise, smartphones.

One more for luck, an example of a genre I grow ever more fond of, the perhaps rather (in this case very) blurry bird, in flight:


I cropped the original, to hide the photoer’s face.

Yes, I picked nine good ones to show you, back in February 2012.  Now I can easily show nine more just as good, and then another that I only now noticed.

That was the change that new camera brought with it.  Before it, I took the occasional good photo, and many bad ones.  When the FZ150 arrived, I took quite a lot of good photos, and as many bad ones as ever.

Friday February 16 2018

You wait nearly thirteen years at BMdotcom for a giant penis photo, and then, out of the blue, two come along.  That one, in the post before last yesterday, and this one:


Crikey, blimey, etc..  Or as we Brits also used to say: Well I’m blowed.

Fox News, so also “other creatures”.

You Had One Job calls this an “unfortunate helicopter shot”.  But I bet the photoer could hardly believe his extreme good fortune.

I like it when cars are old enough to have round headlights, and I especially like it when they have not just two round headlights, but four round headlights:


Photoed by me in Wilton Road, on my way to Victoria Station, earlier this month.  My camera does artificially lit darkness rather well, I think.  In reality, things were not nearly so clear, or not to me.

I know, I know.  Friday is the day here for cats and other creatures, not for antique cars.  But, this car looks American, and I would not be at all surprised to learn that it too is some kind of animal, like a Cougar or a Mustang or some such thing.  Anyone?

Some day soon, you’ll be able to feed a photo like this into Google and say: What kind of car is this?  Perhaps that day is already here.

But hey, how about this?!?  I’m definitely getting better at this internet searching malarkey.  On the bonnet of this car it says “R/T”.  So, I typed “r/t car” into Google, and straight away got to this:

R/T is the performance marker used on Dodge automobiles since the 1960s (much like Chevrolet Super Sport). R/T stands for Road/Track (no “and"). R/T models come with R/T badging, upgraded suspension, tires, brakes, and more powerful engines.

So, which Dodge would this one be?  (Scrolls down through all the pictures on offer.) It would be, unless my eyes deceive me, the 1971 Dodge Charger Super Bee.  A charger and a “super” bee.  So, two kinds of incompatible other creature.  There you go.  What did I just tell you?

Friday February 09 2018

Those little chinese cats, the ones that slowly wave their paws in the air, are often to be seen in gift shops.  But I never thought I’d see one of these pretend cats being copied by a real cat.

Dogs will copy, including copying their humans, like in this bit of video at the same Twitter feed, but I never knew that any cats were also this way inclined.  I didn’t know that there were actual copycats.

I guess my surprise comes from me not having known any cats who were growing up in the company of other cats, and hence still at the stage of learning how to be a cat, by copying those other cats.

Friday January 19 2018



At the time I took that photo, in Lower Marsh, I was with someone else, and just grabbed the shot before moving on at once.  But I reckon it came out really well.

Wikipedia tells us of Mickey Mouse’s compiucated origin.  He was a replacement for a rabbit, and before a mouse was arrived at, it seems that many other animals were considered:

Mickey Mouse was created as a replacement for Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, an earlier cartoon character created by the Disney studio for Charles Mintz, a film producer who distributed product through Universal Studios. In the spring of 1928, with the series going strong, Disney asked Mintz for an increase in the budget. But Mintz instead demanded that Walt take a 20 percent budget cut, and as leverage, he reminded Disney that Universal owned the character, and revealed that he had already signed most of Disney’s current employees to his new contract. Angrily, Disney refused the deal and returned to produce the final Oswald cartoons he contractually owed Mintz. Disney was dismayed at the betrayal by his staff but determined to restart from scratch. The new Disney Studio initially consisted of animator Ub Iwerks and a loyal apprentice artist, Les Clark, who together with Wilfred Jackson were among the few who remained loyal to Walt. One lesson Disney learned from the experience was to thereafter always make sure that he owned all rights to the characters produced by his company.

In the spring of 1928, Disney asked Ub Iwerks to start drawing up new character ideas. Iwerks tried sketches of various animals, such as dogs and cats, but none of these appealed to Disney. A female cow and male horse were also rejected. They would later turn up as Clarabelle Cow and Horace Horsecollar. A male frog was also rejected. It would later show up in Iwerks’ own Flip the Frog series. Walt Disney got the inspiration for Mickey Mouse from a tame mouse at his desk at Laugh-O-Gram Studio in Kansas City, Missouri. In 1925, Hugh Harman drew some sketches of mice around a photograph of Walt Disney. These inspired Ub Iwerks to create a new mouse character for Disney. “Mortimer Mouse” had been Disney’s original name for the character before his wife, Lillian, convinced him to change it, and ultimately Mickey Mouse came to be.

Those two paragraphs are, at Wikipedia, crammed with links.  Follow the link above and scroll down to where it says “Origin”, if you want to follow any of these links.

I will, however, honour the amazingly named Ub Iwerks with a link from here.  I wonder how he was pronounced.  His dad was from Germany, and I think I know how they’d have said the name there.  But, Ub (!?!) was born in Kansas.  When it came to Amercans pronouncing foreign names, all bets were off.  My guess is there were lots of Germans where the Iwerks family grew up, and thus it was not felt necessary to do any name changing.

Blog and learn.

Friday January 12 2018

I only just noticed it, but I do like this blog posting title from October 2016, from Archbishop Cranmer:

Brexit, pursued by a Blair

Blair wants another referendum, with an opposite result.  The Archbishop doesn’t.  But then, the Archbishop wants Brexit and Blair doesn’t.

The Archibishop quotes Blair:

The issue is not whether we ignore the will of the people; but whether, as information becomes available, and facts take the place of claims, the ‘will’ of the people shifts.

But what if, after Blair then gets the result he wants, and the matter is then, for him, settled once and for ever, yet more facts become available, replacing Blair’s claims, and that ‘will’ shifts again? Back again to Brexit being the good move?  What if the EU then goes to hell and takes the UK with it, and the voters then want out, again?  Then what?  Then: the matter is settled, time to move on and stop grumbling.  So, why is it not time for Blair to move on and stop grumbling, now?  It comes down to the Divine Right of Blair.  Is that a thing?  I say: not.

Via Dan Hannan.

For those who don’t know their Shakespeare: the original stage direction.  It’s famous.  You should know this.  Now you do.

Saturday January 06 2018

Jan 6 is the last day for being Christmassy, right?  Twelfth Night?  After today, all things Christmas forbidden?

So, having taken these early this evening, through the front window of the Oxfam shop in Strutton Ground, they have to go up now, or just join the queue to be Christmassy next Christmas, which means never.

So, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, 50% off, to all my readers:


Also a turkey, a squirrel, a robin, two rabbits, a reindeer, and some crackers.  And that really is Christmas and the New Year totally done.  Happy middle of January to all.

It seems that the consensus is that Twelfth Night is actually Jan 5:

People believed that tree spirits lived in festive decorations and while you look after them over Christmas, if you don’t release them afterwards this could have consequences for the rest of the year. They also believed that vegetation would not grow and there would be agricultural problems and food shortages.

I instinctively feel that the same thing applies to displaying Christmas cards in your shop window.  Gives a whole new meaning to the word Oxfam.

Friday January 05 2018

My Christmas greetings to all my devoted readers were rather perfunctory, so here are some more.  What’s that you say?  Too late?  But I photoed them today:


All I thought I was doing with the one on the left was photoing one of those sneeky, panoramic selfies in a shop window, with me in a mirror, but also lots of other diverting diversions and reflections.  And on the one on the right?  I thought that was just a comedy monster and a frying pan.  But, they both say Merry Christmas, several times, still.

Click on this next one, taken a Blackfriars station, and you’ll see lots more Other Creatures, besides reindeers, such as birds, a butterfly, a fly, and even seven cats, on a birthday card:


Also: top right, a Christmas turkey.  Also, I’m guessing: reduced.

Today, in Lower Marsh, I met up with a friend for some friendly tech support, and this being Friday, both before and after that, I was on the look out for Cats and/or Other Creatures related photo-opportunities.

I also like antique vehicles.

So, I was delighted to encounter this:


The Cat’s Back presents:


Pig Out Rolling Gourmet Kitchen.

But, is it fair to describe the human propensity to over-eat as “pigging out”?

Humans definitely describe their uniquely relentless fascination with sex, all the year round, as “animal”, but most animals only get sexually excited during their – usually pretty short – mating seasons.  Humans are surely among the very few creatures whose mating season is: always.  So that isn’t fair.  This makes me suspect that we blaim pigs for overeating when actually they don’t.  But, what do I know?

Google google. 

Here we go:

Most of a pig’s day is spent foraging and eating. The end of their snout has as many tactile receptors as the human hand, and is a highly specialised and sensitive tool. This, along with their exceptional sense of smell, enables pigs to locate and uncover tasty treats such as seeds, roots, and truffles. Unlike dogs or humans, pigs never dangerously overeat - even when given access to unlimited food.

Blog and learn, assuming that is right.  Not: pig out.  Dog out, maybe?  But dogging already means a form of human sex (see above), so dogging out wouldn’t do at all.  (Mind you, I have to admit that dogs seem to have a permanent mating season also.)