Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
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Most recent entries
- A Shiny Thing by Frank Stella Hon RA
- Richard J. Evans on how evidence can become more significant over time
- Another from the archives
- Big 4
- Another quota sign
- Magic clarified
- Viewing the clutter at Centre Point
- Giant cat head worn by a human
- BMdotcom abusive comment of the day
- Made-up London detectives in real London places
- Marc Morris on how the Bayeux Tapestry ought not to exist
- Fantastic day
- Another use for a drone
- London is getting more colourful
- Don’t mention The Wires!!
Other Blogs I write for
6000 Miles from Civilisation
A Decent Muesli
Adventures in Capitalism
Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise
Another Food Blog
Antoine Clarke's Election Watch
Armed and Dangerous
Art Of The State Blog
Boatang & Demetriou
Burning Our Money
Chase me ladies, I'm in the cavalry
China Law Blog
Civilian Gun Self-Defense Blog
Coffee & Complexity
Communities Dominate Brands
Confused of Calcutta
Conservative Party Reptile
Counting Cats in Zanzibar
Deleted by tomorrow
Don't Hold Your Breath
Douglas Carswell Blog
Dr Robert Lefever
Englands Freedome, Souldiers Rights
Everything I Say is Right
Fat Man on a Keyboard
Ferraris for all
Freedom and Whisky
From The Barrel of a Gun
Gates of Vienna
Global Warming Politics
Greg Mankiw's Blog
Guido Fawkes' blog
Here Comes Everybody
Hit & Run
House of Dumb
Iain Dale's Diary
Jeffrey Archer's Official Blog
Jessica Duchen's classical music blog
Laissez Faire Books
Last of the Few
Libertarian Alliance: Blog
Liberty Dad - a World Without Dictators
Lib on the United Kingdom
Little Man, What Now?
Loic Le Meur Blog
L'Ombre de l'Olivier
London Daily Photo
Metamagician and the Hellfire Club
Michael J. Totten's Middle East Journal
More Than Mind Games
Mutualist Blog: Free Market Anti-Capitalism
My Boyfriend Is A Twat
My Other Stuff
Nation of Shopkeepers
Never Trust a Hippy
Non Diet Weight Loss
Nurses for Reform blog
Obnoxio The Clown
On an Overgrown Path
One Man & His Blog
Owlthoughts of a peripatetic pedant
Oxford Libertarian Society /blog
Patri's Peripatetic Peregrinations
Police Inspector Blog
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Remember I'm the Bloody Architect
Setting The World To Rights
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Sky Watching My World
Social Affairs Unit
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Stumbling and Mumbling
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the blog of dave cole
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we make money not art
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Category archive: Cats and kittens
I’d been meaning to check out that big Shiny Thing outside in the courtyard of the Royal Academy in Piccadilly, ever since Mick Hartley gave it a mention at his blog, with a photo, way back on April 8th. Earlier this week I finally got around to doing this, and I took lots of the usual photographs that you would expect me to have taken, of which these are two:
Click on the left, and that shows what this Shiny Thing is like, in its present context. I loved the Shiny Thing itself, as my picture on the right illustrates. In there I see things like Darth Vader. And, rather smaller, I think I also see a naked woman there. Also, there is something vaguely feline about this shape, with its pointing ear-like attachments. Endless photographic fun, especially with the evening light warming up the colours of the surrounding courtyard buildings.
But, I found the rest of this agglomeration rather less interesting. If the idea was to create some interesting reflections, then blander shapes next to the Shiny Thing would have worked better. As it is, the wooden pointy thing, in itself nice enough, is by comparison rather mundane and the black frame that the wooden pointy thing and the Shiny Thing are held up by is ungainly, obtrusive and, to me, when I actually saw it, downright ugly. I mean, did the creator of the equally shiny Chicago Bean feel the need to stick a lot of other crap right next to it to be reflected in it, given that there was already a city there? No he did not.
But I guess if you are Frank Stella Hon RA, one of the most important living American artists, you feel the need to do something arbitrary. Mere Platonic symmetry doesn’t do it. A merely beautiful Shiny Thing won’t serve your purpose. It would dilute your brand. Anyone could have done that. There had to be something there which would get people saying: Why did he do that? Come to that, who the hell is he? So that they can be told that it was done by Frank Stella Hon RA, one of the most important living American artists, and so that Frank Stella Hon RA, one of the most important living American artists, can supply an answer about what he thought he was doing when he, Frank Stella Hon RA, one of the most important living American artists, did what he did, like this:
The contrasting materials employed in the sculpture, the natural wood against the highly finished metal, the differing treatments of space in the line-drawn star and the round curves of the solid star, create a tension and sense of the works being both repelled and attracted to each other at a fixed distance by an invisible force field.
Maybe if I go back and take some more snaps of this Shiny Thing, I will decide that I find the other crap next to it not so crappy after all. The other crap certainly looks better in the shots at the other end of the link above than it did to me, on the spot. And, if it was necessary for Frank Stella Hon RA to ponder the contrasts between a wooden thing and a shiny thing and black metal stuff to get Frank Stella Hon RA, one of the most important living American artists, to have made a very entertaining Shiny Thing, then fine. Whatever it took.
The catification of the internet continues.
This big cat head isn’t now for sale, apparently. But I bet that it, or something a lot like it, soon will be.
After photoing the old London Model, which was the original reason (excuse?) I had visited the Building Centre, I took a look around the place to see what else was on view.
Look what I found:
Nut I took another picture of the Building Centre CATable which included a rather cool looking chair. All I was thinking about when I took it was including the chair. I liked the chair. (I also liked how it was lit.) But this snap, quite fortuitously, turned out to make the CATable look particularly like a cat:
It looks like it’s got eyes, because of the accidental aignment of two of the holes, and because of the way that there is light behind. We humans are programmed to find faces where we can, and if they can’t be human faces, maybe they can be cat faces.
The way that the CATable’s legs are done already shows that the cat resemblance is deliberate.
The CATable is not a one-off creation. They are now being mass produced and you can buy one, if you want to. A snip at $4,799.
Further evidence of highbrow types climbing aboard the catwagon in this Colossal report on Intimate Portraits of 50 Artists and Their Cats Compiled by Alison Nastasi. Artists eh? They’ll do anything to get noticed.
It started with this picture, which I took at the home of some friends a while back. I know exactly how you probably feel about this cushion, but on the other hand, I don’t care:
I love how the TV remote is there next to it. I had no idea at the time, or I would have made a point of including all of it.
But now the www-journey begins. At the bottom right hand corner of the cusion are the words “Susan Herbert”.
Obviously, I click where it says “visit page”, and arrive here. I scroll down, looking for the picture of Bill Murray and the artistic nude girl. I don’t ever find the picture of Bill Murray and the artistic nude girl, but I do encounter this, which is a posting about a big blue horse at Denver Airport. Clicking on “Denver Public Art Program” merely gets me to useless crap about Denver, but googling “luis jimenez mustang” gets me to pictures like this ...:
… and to an article in the Wall Street Journal from February 2009, which says things like this about the Blue Denver Horse:
Anatomically correct - eye-poppingly so - the 32-foot-tall fiberglass sculpture makes quite a statement at the gateway to Denver International Airport.
But that begs the question: What kind of statement, exactly?
“It looks like it’s possessed,” says Denver resident Samantha Horoschak. “I have a huge fear of flying anyway, and to be greeted at the airport by a demon horse - it’s not a soothing experience.”
Many people here agree, calling the muscular steed a terrifying welcome to the Mile High City.
Samantha Horoschak was not wrong. Because, it gets better:
Mr. Jimenez was killed working on the sculpture. In 2006, while he was hoisting pieces of the mustang for final assembly in his New Mexico studio, the horse’s massive torso swung out of control and crushed the 65-year-old artist.
Ah, that magic moment in the creative process when a work of art escapes from the control of its creator and carves out a life of its own, independent of its creator. And kills him.
Is it still there? How many more victims has it claimed? Has it caused any crashes?
I love the internet. And not just because I am quickly able to look up the proper spelling of such words as “posthumous” (which was in the original version of the title of this) and “kitsch”. It’s the mad journeys it takes you on. Who needs stupid holidays when you can go on a crazy trip like this without getting out of your kitchen chair?
Yesterday I visited a shop called Tiger in Tottenham Court Road. Here is the sign about it that sticks out into the road, even though what I thought I was photoing at the time was the Wheel:
That’s actually one of my favourite views of the Wheel, because it is so weird and unexpected. We’re looking south along Tottenham Court Road, with Centre Point on the left as we look. You hear people seeing this, and saying: Oh look, the Wheel. Wow.
Tiger has lots of stuff in it, which I haven’t time to tell you about now but will hope to do Real Soon Now. But what I will say (today) is that, after a bit of searching, I found cats, in the shapes of: a cat mat, some cat suitcases, and some tigers:
Too knackered to say more now. Suffice it to say that Tiger is a veritable cornucopia of cheap and cheerful stuff.
Indeed. What on earth was I thinking, posting - on a Thursday, rather than today, Friday, the traditional BMdotcom day for cat-related items - a piece that starts with how computers are rather bad at recognising cats? I only even realised that the cat category should be attached to the posting just now. Oh well.
Anyway, more cat news, which I did deliberately hold back until today, is that the mega-behemothic-super-industry that is Hello Kitty is making a deliberate play for more male customers, with T-shirts decorated with such things as the picture you see to your right. But, will such images repel human females? You can imagine the high level debates that the Hello Kitty high ups (I somehow imagine them to be mostly men) must have been having about this issue, of such fundamental importance to their brand.
More cat news? I need a bit more to be sure that the picture there doesn’t bash its way into the posting below (even though that would be rather appropriate). Well, I am sad to report that for some people, the most interesting thing about the death of Terry Pratchett (good quote that – that’s the sort of thing he will be really missed for) was that he had a cat sleeping on his bed at the time.
Here (pp. 143-5) is how Thiel explains the difference between humans and computers, and how they complement one another in doing business together:
To understand the scale of this variance, consider another of Google’s computer-for-human substitution projects. In 2012, one of their supercomputers made headlines when, after scanning 10 million thumbnails of YouTube videos, it learned to identify a cat with 75% accuracy. That seems impressive-until you remember that an average four-year-old can do it flawlessly. When a cheap laptop beats the smartest mathematicians at some tasks but even a supercomputer with 16,000 CPUs can’t beat a child at others, you can tell that humans and computers are not just more or less powerful than each other - they’re categorically different.
The stark differences between man and machine mean that gains from working with computers are much higher than gains from trade with other people. We don’t trade with computers any more than we trade with livestock or lamps. And that’s the point: computers are tools, not rivals.
Thiel then writes about how he learned about the above truths when he and his pals at Paypal solved one of their biggest problems:
In mid-2000 we had survived the dot-com crash and we were growing fast, but we faced one huge problem: we were losing upwards of $10 million to credit card fraud every month. Since we were processing hundreds or even thousands of transactions per minute, we couldn’t possibly review each one - no human quality control team could work that fast.
So we did what any group of engineers would do: we tried to automate a solution. First, Max Levchin assembled an elite team of mathematicians to study the fraudulent transfers in detail. Then we took what we learned and wrote software to automatically identify and cancel bogus transactions in real time. But it quickly became clear that this approach wouldn’t work either: after an hour or two, the thieves would catch on and change their tactics. We were dealing with an adaptive enemy, and our software couldn’t adapt in response.
The fraudsters’ adaptive evasions fooled our automatic detection algorithms, but we found that they didn’t fool our human analysts as easily. So Max and his engineers rewrote the software to take a hybrid approach: the computer would flag the most suspicious transactions on a well-designed user interface, and human operators would make the final judgment as to their legitimacy. Thanks to this hybrid system - we named it “Igor,” after the Russian fraudster who bragged that we’d never be able to stop him - we turned our first quarterly profit in the first quarter of 2002 (as opposed to a quarterly loss of $29.3 million one year before).
There then follow these sentences.
The FBI asked us if we’d let them use Igor to help detect financial crime. And Max was able to boast, grandiosely but truthfully, that he was “the Sherlock Holmes of the Internet Underground.”
The answer was yes.
Thus did the self-declared libertarian Peter Thiel, who had founded Paypal in order to replace the dollar with a free market currency, switch to another career, as a servant of the state, using government-collected data to chase criminals. But that’s another story.
Big cat advert
Drunkblogging a new London Big Thing
Big cats jacket
A feline Friday at Guido
Cats in Quimper shops
To Covent Garden (3): Cat that looks a bit like a dog
Russia unleashes tiger on China
Cats – and technology
A cat book and a feline front page
Big cat advertises guide dogs
Recently on dezeen
Not about cats
On meeting an American lady friend who likes to read my stuff about cricket
Happy Friday (eventually)
Back from France (plus cat photos)
Cat photo and cat news
Cats … on scaffolding … with shadows …
A Bobcat digger and the Coade Lion from the back
Compact Cats buried under London’s poshest homes
The Lib Dem cat is out of the box
I see cats
Hao Ruan and LYCS Architecture are now world famous
Amusing cats versus important people
Classic Feline Friday quote from Tim Berners-Lee
When you are old you tend to assume that confusion is your fault even if actually it is not
Nowadays a picture is no longer worth a thousand words
Broad thrives properly on getting abuse
Simon Gibbs last night at the Rose and Crown
Quotes from there
Stuart Broad has a kitten heel
Finding Rover app tracks lost dogs using facial recognition
Edwin is a bad person
A fake feline photo and a faltering feline enumerator
Cats without tails are not scary
Looking along Victoria Street to The Wheel (and on how to be liked (or disliked) by Google)
Monopoly Cat replaces Monopoly Iron
Domestic cats are destroying the planet
Kissa yrittää mennä laatikkoon
The strange state of the enviro-argument
Mon chat se tient debout tout seul
It got my attention
Surely the answer is for them to get 275 cats each
Photographing the other photographers with my new camera
Like a crisp packet being popped
How to immobilise a cat
Quimper cat on Harley-Davidson
Lion steals camera
Friday link dump
Bizarre History - Johannes Brahms did not murder cats
Brainwave-controlled cat ears for humans created by Japanese Neurowear
Shostakovich with cat
Guido the cat
It’s interesting …
Animals that like the smell of humans dying
Julian Assange drove Daniel Domscheit-Berg’s cat Herr Schmitt crazy
The free market encourages curiosity
Thoughts on England not just keeping the Ashes but winning the series 3-1 (with asterisks)
Happy New Year
Delayed action Dubrovnik cat
And here’s the proof!!! Sixteen little square pictures!!!
From pop to purrfume
Cats only seem smart and dogs only seem dumb
Another ephemeron for David Thompson?
Cat defeats alligators
Cats know more about fluid mechanics than dogs
Only up to some random linkage and a little felinity
MP’s kitten custody battle
Funny feline ephemeron
Another strangely punctuated headline and a depressing television play
Why not just sell them?
Graeme Swann on drink-driving charge after 3am dash to save kitten
Farnborough (5): Supacat Bloodhound Falcon
Cool cat that obeys Allen’s Rule
Farnborough (4): Cat on teeshirt - insect on cat’s nose
Lynxes and an A380
Next door’s cat
Cats with human faces
Cats and bridges on Pixdaus
One man’s intellectual theft is another man’s marketing
Yo! Sushi cat says: Yo! Stay away!
Darling and Darling cat
“Is this a case of us operant-conditioning them or them operant-conditioning us?”
Green cat email mystery solved
Green cat copyrighted picture email vanishes
Quota cat rubber
“I can’t respond to any e-mails today …”
Why David Hepworth is wrong about podcasting
Alfie the cat answers the Elmlea challenge
Nasa and Gordon Brown both have their uses
Chained cat in Vietnam
The cats from out of town that cleared out the rats during the siege of Leningrad
Two real cats sighted in Spain!
Two red cats
How some cats are dividing Cyprus
A cat lands on its feet
Picture purrfection and a rather good Clive James piece
Short posting (with short photo) about SpaceShipTwo
In other news …
Strange purple cat with four eyes
David Farrer photos
Saying what we aren’t meant to say
Green cats - feral cats - cats murdered in Wales - more than 113 cats in Livingston NJ
God is killing cinemas!
Friday baby marmoset
Green eyed monster devouring cat food
Vince Miller with cat
My confusion about free banking
Philippa Micklethwait - the Eulogy
Actually quite a big cat
Why Willem Buiter blogs and why I do
Tama the feline stationmaster saves the Wakayama Electric Railway Co.
Not the same thing
Cats are (as of) now being counted in permanent italics
Today I have been blogging elsewhere and also doing other things
Paul Graham on the death of the family cat
The return of Friday cat-blogging
What I’ve done so far with Jesus
Tatiana the normal tiger
Cat stuff on Tuesday?
Operation Cat Drop and some Hello Kitty Bags
For Skimbleshanks read Tizer
What kind of blogger are you?
Manhole cover cats and Angel of the North shelves?
The cat genome is cool
Someone is displaying mutilated cats in San Antonio
Yes this is cat blogging
A visit from The Guru and a picture of three local cats
Photos - four transport - two artistic
A squinting cat and a master ephemerist
At the dogs
Lots of links
City Cat runs on air
Not actually a photo of Saturn’s rings
When members of parliament attack
“That’s not Minnie Mouse - that’s a cat with large ears”
Armed police in Hertford hunt big cat
It’s Friday again
Cats can be taught!
A John Lewis cat and a John Lewis DAB radio
Cats cause mice
Clever old Catt
Cats and keyboards
Norman interested – Harry has some wildness in his genealogy
A basic part of the domestic cat’s heritage
Very very low cost kitten in space
Other people’s photos (4): Kitten on man’s head