Brian Micklethwait's Blog

In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Category archive: Cats and kittens

Friday August 25 2017

Just the one photo here today, today being a busy day for me.  I have a meeting this evening to prepare for, in my living room.  And because today is a Friday, which is the day of the week when I often feature animals of various kinds, this photo is a good choice, featuring as it does, two lions:

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Although this memorial is much photoed, that’s an angle on it that you don’t see quite so much.  This is the sort of photo that it is easy to take only if your camera has a twiddly screen, to enable you to hold your camera very low, but still know what you are photoing.  This was amongst the last photos I took with my old Lumix FZ200, the zoom process of which was already misbehaving.

More about this Crimean and Indian Mutiny Memorial here:

Opposite the west entrance of Westminster Abbey is a tall marble and stone column, erected in 1861 and designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott, which remembers former pupils of Westminster School who died in the Crimean War 1854-56 and the Indian Mutiny 1857-58. At the top is a figure of St George slaying the dragon, carved by J.R.Clayton, with statues of St Edward the Confessor, Henry III, Elizabeth I and Queen Victoria, carved by J.Birnie Philip. Four lions flank the base ...

It’s interesting that monarchs feature so prominently on a war memorial.  By the time of WW2, the statuary either commemorates commanders, or their dead commandees.  You don’t get pictures or sculptures of the former on memorials devoted to the sacrifices of the latter.

And, given that monarchs are involved, it’s an interesting selection of monarchs.  I wonder who would have come fifth.  Henry of that number?  I further wonder, did the worship of Henry V only get into its stride rather later?  With that Olivier film, made during WW2?  Meanwhile, Henry III has faded in public esteem.

By the time of later British military dramas involving Napoleonic France, which would still have been personally remembered at the time this memorial was erected, the recognition all went to the likes of Nelson and Wellington, and the King’s brother, with the mere King himself getting very little public credit.  The statues reflect this.

My meeting tonight will be Nico Metten talking about libertarian foreign policy, i.e. about decidedly different foreign policies to the ones alluded to in this War Memorial.

Friday August 11 2017

Indeed:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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!

Friday June 23 2017

The internet loves animals, especially cats and dogs, and I went looking for Grenfell Tower animal stories.  Because, there’s always an animal angle, to just about any story, even if it wasn’t an animal story to start with.

Did many pets die in the Grenfell Tower disaster?  I wasn’t able to answer that one.  But there have been a number of stories about pets who either can’t now stay with their current owners, or whose owners have died.  Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, for instance, is helping out with temporary pet accommodation.

Animals were also heavily involved in the search for bodies in the wreckage, as MSM news explains:

Specially trained dogs are also vital to the mission. The search process is painstaking, and as dogs are smaller, more agile, and have such a keen sense of smell (better than any technology), the animals have been deployed at more challenging areas.

The upper floors of the 24-storey high rise, those most damaged, and where people are most likely to have been killed, benefit particularly from the dogs’ expertise.

The canines come from the LFB and the MET’s urban search crews. They’re given special equipment, and even little boots to protect their feet from heat and broken glass. While obviously dangerous, no fire dog has ever been harmed while out on an operation.

...

The dogs mean the sad and devastating process of finding the missing will be quicker. They can get into parts of the building humans simply can’t get to.

I particularly like the bit about those “little boots”.  Nice touch.  Both in the sense of what this detail adds to the story, and in the sense that this must make life easier for the dogs, despite any doubts the dogs might have when first made to put their little boots on.

More about these dogs and their boots, with a picture, here, in a story from last year.

Tuesday June 13 2017

Indeed:

image

According to Laura Gibbs, this translates from Latin into this:

I am hopeful in times of danger; I am fearful when things are going well.

I love the internet.  Before the internet I would have seen this, been momentarily baffled, and would have forgotten it at once.  Now I photo it and later I learn what it means.  I then blog it and only then do I forget about it.

The building that proclaims this wisdom is now the Milestone Hotel.

Friday May 26 2017

That’s not a big cat.  This is a big cat:

image

Details here:

Sculptor Dengding Rui Yao has carved this incredible wooden lion from a single tree trunk. The artist led a team of 20 assistants on a three-year journey to complete the sculpture, which was made in Myanmar and was transported to its permanent home at the Fortune Plaza Times Square in Wuhan, China.

I chose the photo with the Big(gish) Things of Wuhan in the background.

This lion was linked to in these David Thompson ephemera, this time last week.

Featured in the latest lot, a baby hippo called Fiona.

Friday May 12 2017

On that wander-around earlier this week, with GD2, there were, as related yesterday, lots of luxury objects to photo.  And I did try, but mostly I failed.  This was partly because luxury objects tend to be sparkly, and sparkly is hard to photo successfully.  But mostly, I suspect, it was just that I’m not used to photoing luxury objects and am in general not very good at it.

There were sparkly animals to photo, such as a bracelet with a tiger on it, and a silver horse rolling about on its back.  But they didn’t come out that well.

There were a couple of incongruously painted pandas (perpetrated by this guy), which I also photoed.

And there was a Bentley Mulsanne parked out in the street looking very good (especially its front lights), the effect as splendidly dignified as that of the two pandas were incoherent, offputting and pointless.  More about that Bentley, maybe, some other time.

Maybe even some more about the pandas, once I have thought of something to say about them other than that I didn’t like them.  I mean, someone obviously does.  Why?

In the end, the luxury item that I remember from that day with the greatest pleasure was this one:

image

The trick with buying luxuries is to buy a category of luxury that you can tolerate being too expensive.  A luxury car would break my bank account completely.  A luxury bracelet would be a non trivial hit, even if I wanted one.  But a luxury ice cream, in a tub that someone has obviously “designed” (to look somewhat like an old Penguin paperback in this instance), that I could happily stretch to.

Tastes differ in such matters, but I found this icecream really tasty.  It was purchased in the cafe at the top of John Lewis’s in Oxford Street.  After we had consumed our various luxury foods and drinks we climbed to the floor above, to the roof garden, where the view of London is not as spectacular as some of the views of this kind, but very satisfying if you are a fan of roof clutter, as I am, especially with the weather being like it was.  Again: luxury.  This time not overpriced at all.

Friday March 31 2017

I believe you can tell quite a lot about a place by the behaviour towards passing strangers of its cats.  If the cats are frightened, it means that they have had bad experiences with people.  If the cats are friendly, it means that people have been nice to them.  And people who are nice to cats are more likely to be nice to each other.  That’s what I think.

Bow Roundabout doesn’t seem like an especially nice sort of spot, but this cat that I encountered, on a boat, moored on the River Lea, just before the River Lea went under that roundabout was very nice indeed:

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My first sight of the cat was when I saw this lady photoing it, which of course I photoed.  But even before the lady was finishing her photo-session, the cat had noticed me, and soon it walked confidently towards me to say hello.  We exchanged salutations.  I offered my hand towards the cat’s head.  The cat shoved its head against my hand.  All very companionable.  When we had exchanged all our greetings, the cat washed itself.  Fair enough.  You never know what you might catch from a strange human.

All of which is strong anecdotal confirmation of this latest bit of cat news, which says that cats really like people.

When I met this cat, there was no yowling or searching in my bag for food, which anyway contained no food.  But that didn’t cause the cat to lose interest.  It was being sociable, not scrounging.

So, nice place.  Maybe not the A11 or the A118 or the A12m but definitely the bit beside the river that goes under all them.

More Friday cat content at Samizdata, linking to a video of two cats summoning food by pressing bells.  I agree that the cat on the left ought to be pressing its own bell.

Saturday March 25 2017

Before we entered the Royal Opera House to endure and eventually to enjoy Die Meistersinger my friend and I wandered around Covent Garden, and chanced upon a shop selling artfully decorated skateboards, in other words looking like this:

image

As soon as I was inside this shop I asked if I could take some photos, and they said: snap away.  So I did.  I took the above photo first, which gives an idea of what it was that got my attention.  And then I took a lot more, of which the following were the least worst:

imageimageimageimageimage
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I know.  Lots of reflections in the shiny surfaces of the skateboards.  But, you get the pictures.

A cat is involved (1.3 in the above clutch).  A rather rude cat, but a cat.  At first, I thought I ought to hurry the posting up and have this ready for last Friday.  Then I thought, no, wait until next Friday.  And then I thought to hell with that, I’ve nearly done it, I will post it when it’s done.

These artistically enhanced boards have all the relaxed and unpretentious exuberance of graffiti, of the sort I most regularly observe in Leake Street under Waterloo Station.  You don’t have to read some idiot art-speak essay to find out what the hell this or that skateboard is “about”, even though it is sometimes obscure.  “SHAKEJUNT”.  “HAND IN GLOVE”.  “FIVE BORE”.  “FLIP”.  You probably have to be a skateboarder to get what words like those mean.  Which probably explains why I like the giant TV remote the best.  That I definitely understand.

However, a magic ingredient that separates these skateboards from graffiti is that the skateboards come with added property rights.  Once you’ve painted your own particular skateboard, that’s how it stays painted.  Which means you can really go to town on it, make it really great, confident that some other artist won’t paint over what you’ve just done.

There is also the fact that a skateboard, unlike graffiti, can be moved hither and thither, which means it can be bought and sold.  This means that politically sane people will gravitate towards decorating skateboards and political ignorami will prefer graffiti, property rights and civilisation being things that go hand in hand, as do attacking property rights and barbarism.  Sadly, this does not necessarily mean that the skateboard art will be better, because mad artists are often better than sane artists.  Plus, you can now add the magic of digital photography to graffiti, thereby preserving it.  But as art objects, these skateboards will, unlike graffiti, be profitable and permanent.

Here’s the final photo I took, complete with the guy who said I could take all the other photos, despite knowing I wasn’t in the market for a decorated skateboard, but was merely interested in an art gallery-ish way:

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I asked this guy for a card or something, so I could put a link to the place here, as I have done, see above.  He didn’t have anything on paper.  But then he thought: have a bag:

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And that’s how I knew what the shop was called and where to find its website.

I hope this posting doesn’t do any harm to this enterprise, for example by diminishing its street credibility.  Do things still have street credibility?  Or, to put it in more recent parlance, is street credibility still a thing? 

Slam City Skates in Covent Garden
Cat proximity awareness
Scott Adams tries to outwit the shadow banners with kitten-tweets
Softening the brutalities of brutalism with colour
Always?
Alice Robb on how cats look like babies
A dogs and cats building
This cat faces a difficult next four years
The Battersea Dogs and Cats Home light show
Graffiti cat
The cuddly killer
Cats don’t smile
An allotment and two cats
Bird – and bird close up
A caracal is killing penguins in Cape Town
A pig and two dogs
Lioness eats camera
Feline Friday at Samizdata
Goodbye PhotoCat – hello PhotoPad
Vendredi
With PhotoCat I can do cropping while keeping it the same shape
Dirty art on White Vans
Regent’s Canal creatures (and a photographer)
When is a creature suitcase idea a creature suitcase design?
Cat and cubs
Black Cat white van
A still life and a cat cushion in Kentish Town
With GD2 in Richmond Park (3): Scary names
Food memories from the outer suburbs
Cats on an iPhone and Anton Howes on video
Avian Friday
Antoine Clarke on herding drunk cats
Antony Flew on the Terrors of Islam
Union Jack mirror in a Tottenham Court Road furniture shop
How to Weaponize your Cat to Hack Neighbours Wi-Fi Passwords
Richmond boat cat - giant video kitten - East End cat graffiti
I was photoing white vans in February 2007
A Real (cat) Photographer
The wait continues
Alcoholic Architecture sign
Sorry!  No Photo’s!
Interesting vehicles
White cat – Mick Hartley’s photos and other photos he likes – black and white and colour
Phil Tufnell paints cats!!!
Cats and cricket – cats and drones
Cat picture on white van
Oh yes it could
Animals not understanding cameras
A Shiny Thing by Frank Stella Hon RA
Giant cat head worn by a human
CATable at the Building Centre
Big cat scan
From a cat cushion to Bill Murray and a nude to a demon horse sculpture that killed its creator
A weird view of the Wheel - and cats in Tiger
Feline Friday – an apology for yesterday’s premature posting about cat recognition
Peter Thiel on how humans and computers complement each other
Big cat advert
Drunkblogging a new London Big Thing
Exit Caesar
Anthrozoology
Big cats jacket
A feline Friday at Guido
Cats in Quimper shops
Two geese
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
Friday photo-puzzles
Big cat advertises guide dogs
Recently on dezeen
Not about cats
Tate cat
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
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
Feline ephemera
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
Mash cats
Broad thrives properly on getting abuse
Simon Gibbs last night at the Rose and Crown
TIL
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
Savoy cat
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
Croydon cats
Kissa yrittää mennä laatikkoon
Piccadilly Halloween
The strange state of the enviro-argument
Meow
Black Katz
Mon chat se tient debout tout seul
Flat cat
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
Cat news
It’s interesting …
Wot inflationz?
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
Cathedral photo
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
Exploitation?
Sneezing chat
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
Cat tales
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
In Alicante
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
Feline flushing
Cat Car
Why Willem Buiter blogs and why I do
Tama the feline stationmaster saves the Wakayama Electric Railway Co.
Not the same thing
Catbrella
Cats are (as of) now being counted in permanent italics
Today I have been blogging elsewhere and also doing other things
French cats
Paul Graham on the death of the family cat
Perkins photos
The return of Friday cat-blogging
What I’ve done so far with Jesus
Tatiana the normal tiger
Another cat!
Cat stuff on Tuesday?
Cats etc.
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
Cat power!
Photos - four transport - two artistic
A squinting cat and a master ephemerist
Pleasure
At the dogs
Lots of links
Douglas
City Cat runs on air
Not actually a photo of Saturn’s rings
Cat sculptures
When members of parliament attack
“That’s not Minnie Mouse - that’s a cat with large ears”
Insurance question
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
Gatito
Cats and keyboards
Kiev cat
Norman interested – Harry has some wildness in his genealogy
A basic part of the domestic cat’s heritage
Friday cat-blogging
Very very low cost kitten in space
Other people’s photos (4): Kitten on man’s head