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 February 12 2016

I like white vans.  And since this is Friday, I at least want recently to have encountered, virtually or for real, something feline, but with a bit of a difference from the usual internet felinities.

So, I was pleased to notice this vehicle, outside the Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre, across the road from Westminster Abbey, yesterday afternoon:

image

More about the enterprise in question here.

It is surprising, to me, given how much attention cats now get in the popular culture, how few enterprises use cattery to advertise themselves in this kind of way.

Friday February 05 2016

The other day (like there has been been just the one (which is idiotic)), I was in …:

image

… to have brunch with GD2 and her sister in their newly acquired home.

While there I took some photos, including this still life, of pots and pans and utensils, which looks rather nice, like an oil painting:

image

Staying tasteful and artistic, and seeing as how this is Friday, here is something else I snapped there:

image

Yes, it’s a cat cushion!  It was, though, probably there when they moved in.

Since a major percentage of the point of Art is to stay a couple of steps ahead of and to thereby piss off the dumbo bourgeoisie, the latest batch of Artists would probably now reckon the cat cushion to be more Artistic than the still life.

As for the bloke who painted that Kentish Town sign, he probably now works for an advertising agency.

Friday January 08 2016

I’m still catching up with some of the things I did last summer, even though it is now next year.  My gaff my rules.  In particularly, I still have finished reporting on Richmond Park.

Richmond Park is the very picture of unthreatening sweetness and light, especially on the sort of day it was when me and GD2 paid our visit to it.  But, as regulars here will know, I like to photograph signs, and maps, so that I will know where I’ve been.

In Richmond Park, there are big maps of Richmond Park, like this one:

image

This map is covered with the names of all the various places in Richmond Park.  Most of these names are quite nice, as you can see if you take a closer look (by clicking on it), at this closer-up view of the middle of the above map:

image

Prince Charles’s Spinney, Thompson’s Pond, Sidmouth Wood, and Queen Elizabeth’s Plantation, they all sound nice enough, in keeping with the suburban niceness of the place.  Although, I suppose “plantation” might suggest slavery.

But some of these names speak of a different and grimmer past.  How about, to take a closer look at some of them, names like these:

imageimage

Suddenly, Richmond Park becomes more like the sort of landscape that brings to mind, say, Vincent Price’s chilling enactment of the Witchfinder General.

Names like those two suggest interpretations that are probably far worse than the truth, of names like these:

imageimageimage

Spankers are probably just people who chase deer so that the upper classes can kill them for sport.  A saw pit is probably just a pit where sawing (of tree trunks) was done.  And Peg’s Pond is probably just the pond which Peg owned, and fished in.  But, I couldn’t helping thinking that Peg’s Pond was really the pond where Vincent Price made poor Peg swim, thereby proving that she was a witch.  And then she got hanged in one of the two hanging locations named above.

And how about these two names:

image

Bone Copse?  Killcat Corner? What on earth was that about?  Googling told me nothing, but that proves nothing.

Friday December 11 2015

Photographs are, as all the world has recently been learning, except those whose business – paid or unpaid – it is to complain about what all the world has recently been learning, a wonderful aid to memory.

And many of the happiest memories of our extraordinarily comfortable and frequently very happy times involve food.  So - and the complainers complain about it with a venom they seem to reserve only for this, and for selfies - people now like to photo food.  Food that they have themselves prepared.  And food that others have prepared for them. 

And I like to photo them photoing the food.  This also makes happy memories.

Man prepares meat:  Man photos meat:  Man prepares salad:  Man photos salad:

image imageimage image

These are happy memories from last August.  Visit to friends in the outer suburbs.

The outer suburbs?  What do they look like?  Well, one of the things they look like (horizontalisation opportunity) is this:

image

That’s the large patch of grass, beyond the back wall of their back garden.  And sadly, although those things in the distance do vaguely resemble Big Things, they are actually rather smaller trees.

We are beyond the “Green Belt”.  The above photo, especially if clicked on, offers a glimpse of what the Green Belt might usefully be turned into, instead of it remaining for ever the wasteland of pointless open space that it is now.  It would need livening up a bit.  A bit of open-caste mining, or a temporary phase as a juvenile race track?  Then let nature take its course, and you’ll have a lovely place.  Apparently some industrial type activity (gravel?) is about to happen in that particular stretch of grass.  That will stir up some interesting nature, when the industrialising is done.

Finally, this being Friday, here is a visitor to our jollifications who dropped by that afternoon:

image

Like many cats in places like this, this cat seems to have a basic home of basic benefactors, and daily rounds to visit other potential and not-so-basic benefactors.  This visitor acquired no happy food memories with his/her visit, on the day I photoed him/her.  Not that day.

But I have plenty.  Without my camera, these memories would soon have gone.

Friday December 04 2015

Last Tuesday I attended the A(dam) S(mith) I(nstitute) Xmas Party, to which I had been looking forward.  Sadly, when I got there (and this is nothing whatsoever at all to do with the quality of the ASI Xmas Party) I found that I was in a decidedly anti-social mood.  Grumpy Old Men are not a cliché for nothing.

But before making my gracelessly early exit, I did manage to strike up a conversation with a young woman fresh out of studying the history of media censorship, at Cambridge.  This, she said, “could not be a more libertarian subject”.  True.  Good.  More and more libertarians seem to be emerging from universities these days, in considerable part thanks to the ASI.

Me carrying a camera caused her to mention that she too was keen on photography.  I asked her what is the best photo you’ve ever taken?  And she said, tapping away at her iPhone: probably one of these.  Definitely a cat person.  I reckoned it a bit too uncouth to be photoing her, but I did photo her iPhone, which is also good when the light is a bit dodgy, as it was that evening.

image image image

I also bumped into Anton Howes, and him I did snap (talking to a bloke who looked like Seth Rogen) because he is already a definite public figure not to say rising star of libertarianism:

image

Later, I cursed myself for not remembering to ask Anton how his expedition to the USA had gone.  But, as I keep having to remind myself, this is the twenty first century.  You can look things like this up.  And sure enough, at Anton’s Twitter Feed, I found this ("U can now watch my presentation (of thesis for the very first time!) at Columbia’s Center for Capitalism & Society: ..."), which takes you straight to this, the second this being the video of him in action.  I just watched it.  Excellent.  And recommended to all who want to know how the world got from almost universal penury to something rapidly becoming almost universal creature comfort, in which all can have, if they wish, cat pictures on their iPhones.

Friday November 27 2015

What with Antoine herding drunken cats tonight, you’d think that today here might have been particularly feline.  But as it happens, recent archive trawling has brought various bird photos that I’ve taken over the years to my attention.

I find birds difficult to photo, by which I mean difficult to photo interestingly.  This is because they are so often photoed, very well, by other photographers.  The trick for someone like me is to photo things that other people, and other photographers, tend not to see, like for instance all the other photographers.  I think I managed to photo these two birds quite interestingly, just under a year ago, just before last Chistmas, but this sort of thing is rare for me.

imageOften, when I photo birds, I combine them with others things, as here, or as on the right, right here.  This being one of those photos which I suspect will look rather good if seen very small.  So, I am showing it very small.  Which also means I have to waffle now, to make sure that the next photo doesn’t collide with this one on the right.  What I really like about this snap is not the bird, so much as the unusual roof clutter.  The bird just tops that off nicely.  This shot was taken from Battersea Park railway station.  That should be enough waffling.

Next, what we see is some birds seen from an unusual angle, which makes their wings look really strange, like they are made out of metal rather than bird.  Whereas the earlier picture benefited from being small, this one squawked out to be horizontalised, so that is what I did:

image

For each of the two originals, above, click on the smaller version.

This last bird photo also shows something which is, to me, very strange.  Which is, that all the birds are pointing in the same direction, one way or the other, along the road.  Except one, who is, I suspect, turning from pointing one way to pointing the other way.  Why are they doing this?

image

One possible explanation is that they are all looking at me, to see if I would throw them any food, or perhaps attack them. My guess being that when a pigeon looks at you he has to look at you sideways on, with just one eye.  He doesn’t do what humans with their flat faces do, when looking at you, which is turn their faces towards you.  No, a pigeon displays his profile.  But what do I know?  Am I making any sense?  Anyone?  I am probably talking nonsense.

Anyway, truth or tripe, that concludes today’s Avian Friday posting.

Friday November 20 2015

On Friday November 27th (i.e. exactly one week from now), my friend from way back, Antoine Clarke, will be giving a talk at my place entitled “Herding cats, or lessons from drunks about organising anarchy”.

These talks happen every last Friday of the month, and before they give one of them, I ask each speaker to supply a paragraph or two about what they’ll be saying, so I can email my list of potential attenders.  Antoine has just supplied me with ten paragraphs on his talk:

It would be hard to imagine any more dysfunctional organisation than a leaderless group of drunks promising among themselves to quit drinking and to help other drunks to quit.

And then I realized that there is a similar organisation for narcotics addicts, one for cocaine addicts, crystal meth addicts and even “sex and love addicts” - whatever that may mean.

Alcoholics Anonymous has been described as a “benign anarchy” by one of its founders and manages to organize over 100,000 groups worldwide with between 1.5 million and 2 million members. Its power structure has been described as an “inverted pyramid”.

AA operates by having almost completely autonomous branches, no publicity, no professional class of “charity workers” and no set fees.  It has a “12-step program” and “12 traditions” which have been described respectively as “rules for not killing yourself” and “rules for not killing other people”.

The effectiveness of AA at curing or controlling alcohol addiction is not clear cut. Because of anonymity, self-selection and the difficulty of known if someone who stops attending meetings has relapsed or simply found he can lead a functional lifestyle. The fact that over a dozen other organisations have copied AA’s 12-step and 12 tradition system suggests at least some level of success, unlike, say the UK’s National Health Service which has fewer imitators.

One particular problem for AA is that any 12-step program will only really work if it is voluntary, but in the USA especially, courts mandate that convicted criminals attend AA meetings as a parole condition.  I think this reduces recidivism among the criminals (compared with them NOT following a program), but it surely dilutes the effectiveness of AA groups (more disruptive attendees, people going through the motions, possible discouragement of others).

I shall be looking at the elements of AA’s structure and organisational culture to see what lessons can be learned about the possibility of anarchic institutions especially at handling social problems.

What interests me is the “anarchy with table manners” aspect of AA and the contrast with truly dysfunctional libertarian organisations, like the Libertarian Alliance.

I’m also interested in the issue of government interference and the ways in which well-meaning interventions make matters worse. I shall also take a look at the spiritual element of AA’s 12-step program, noting that it claims to work for atheists and agnostics as well as for theists.

Hopefully, this is an attractive alternative to binge drinking on a Friday night in central London.

Indeed.  There will be no binge drinking at the meeting.

I see that of Counting Cats, in the person of Julie near Chicago, recently linked to a piece by the late Antony Flew entitled The Terrors of Islam, a piece which I had totally forgotten about.  But I am sure that this piece influenced me very strongly when I read it.  And I definitely did read it because I published it, for the Libertarian Alliance (Chris Tame Tendency).

It always pleases me hugely when someone links to an old LA effort of mine like this.  Not exclusively mine, you understand.  Somebody else had to write it.  But … mine.  And this particular piece of Flew’s is downright prophetic.

Counting Cats had a strange outbreak of junk postings about fake university essays a week or two back but seems to be over it now.

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