Architecture for dogs

I get daily emails about “new london architecture”, and from Dezeen, the design website. From these emails alone, it is clear that the profession of architecture is in a bad way just now. Big new buildings just aren’t being built in anything like the numbers they were a few years ago. Even Zaha Hadid, who have been continuing to build big stuff in China, are being flattered by journos eager to keep in with them, not by plugging their latest Big Thing in China, but by writing about that space ship house that the late Zaha Hadid herself designed, several years ago.

The latest Frank Gehry project to get a write-up in Dezeen is a perfume bottle.

But of all the stories that speaks to this architectural go-slow, the one that I find most divertingly bizarre concerns an exhibition in London, organised by some Japanese goofballs, concerning architecture for dogs. Dezeen has noticed this, what with their being so little else of an architectural sort to be noticing, with a story about an architect who has done a sort of table thing that dogs can occupy, or something.

Dogs will get enthusiastic about anything their human bosses tell them to enthuse about. They’ll do anything to oblige. So they happily go along with this nonsense. But really. Could the world of “design”, all cool and calm and sophisticated and minimalist, be more completely at odds with the world of dogs, all enthusiasm and rushing about, sniffing each other’s arses and generally making a totally undignified spectacle of themselves and not caring a toss? To me, it all smacks of desperation. You can hear the wailing at Dezeen: What the hell else is there to write about? Well, I guess it’s dogitecture again.

A French cat and a Roman dog

An autumn scene, in France, with a cat:

One these autumn photos, picked out by Mick Hartley. Other photos Hartley picked out feature some cows, a pig, a dog, and a horse.

And, an ancient Roman scene, with a dog:

Cave. As in: car vey. Or KV, as we used to say at my posh prep school, where, for all the good it did us, we actually did Latin. By which I mean we had it done to us.

Here. Via David Thompson.

Some more e-scooter photos

If obliged to select just one of the many photos I have photoed during Lockdown and before Lockdown was over and done with (i.e. now and for the foreseeable future until all this nonsense ends and we can get back to whatever the new normal turns out to be), I think I might well choose this one:

The big point about the photo above, photoed earlier this week, is the state of the road that the e-scooter is travelling on. No other traffic. London is still in a state of semi-Lockdown, of a semi-voluntary sort. Roads like the one you see above are often empty, and into this emptiness several dozens of e-scooters have raced joyously, as shown above. But if and when anything resembling normality returns to this road, it will fill up with regular traffic, and it will then change from the total safety you see above to a state more like “you almost certainly won’t die today”. For an e-scooter, it will be like being in Bomber Command during the war. Your chances of surviving the next trip will be quite good. Surviving a tour of two dozen operations, not so much. Commute every day for ever and you’re doomed to severe injury or worse.

A few dozen minutes later, in Parliament Square, I saw something with much more of a future, namely a fully functioning bicycle road, both ways, with a white line in the middle, just like a regular car road. And all this in a spot which has been a shambles for about half of the last decade, on the Parliament approach to Westminster Bridge, with Big Ben up on the right as we look:

And then, on this same cycle road, an e-scooter:

That arrangement has a future, because this is a glimpse of the new normal. E-scooting and bicycles seem to coexist very happily safely. This is especially so if the e-scooters make a point of going at the same speed as the cyclists, whenever overtaking would be any problem. The point being that e-scooters can go much faster than bicycles, but often shouldn’t.

I was going to show a couple more e-scooter photos, but a blogging rule I constantly forget but have remembered now is: if you can separate out your points into separate postings, it’s probably best to do that.

So, I’ll end on this point. Bicycles and heavy motorised traffic don’t go together well. But bicycles and e-scooters, with the heavy traffic removed, that works very well.

Just as bikes flattened the roads to make way, literally, for the first cars, so too now, bikes are now narrowing their roads, to exclude those same cars and to make way for e-scooters. I believe “History” to be in the category list for this posting with good reason.

True – necessary – kind

I get emails from Christian Michel about the virtual meetings he is still organising. Here is a snippet from the latest such email:

A good friend sticks to this rule – any statement you are making should meet at least two of three characteristics: be true, be necessary, be kind.

Christian then says: “I like it.” I think I like it also. Most of us probably follow a rule like that with all our friends, or they’d not be our friends. But I for one haven’t nailed it down as clearly as that, in words.

Another remarkable Trump speech

Here.

I don’t agree that Trump is defeating The Virus, as he claims. I think it is fizzling out of its own accord. I therefore think that he overdoes the criticism of China, on this particular score. But otherwise, amazing.

I was particularly interested in the bit near the end, where he said:

As President I am proudly putting America first, just as you should be putting your countries first. That’s okay, That’s what you should be doing.

This is something people have always got wrong about Trump. He does admire people like Putin. But this is not because he is a Putin agent of influence, as some anti-Trumpists have absurdly claimed. It is because he admires Putin for fighting Russia’s corner. But Trump isn’t be fighting Russia’s corner. He’s fighting America’s corner.

The manner of the speech’s delivery was also interesting. He just read it out, with no gaps during which anyone might try to heckle. He didn’t seek rapport with his audience, like at one of his rallies. There was a distinct undercurrent of “I don’t give a fuck what you evil bastards think about this, and I’m taking no questions, I’m just telling you how it now is” about the whole thing. I’ve been waiting all my life for an American President willing to talk in this manner to the assembly of (mostly) pompous and tyrannical scumbags that is the “United Nations”. It’s a different world, I tell you. As Patrick Crozier and I talked about in this conversation, Trump is conferring respect upon millions of Americans who have been denied it by their self-appointed betters. Crucially, he is also withdrawing respect from the over-respected “global elite”, and never more so than in this speech. And his voters will be loving it.

Roll on the thermonuclear landslide.

Pressure

Yes it’s the Bob Willis Trophy Final, between Essex and Somerset at Lord’s, in front of a crowd consisting of nobody. And on and off, I am watching it at the BBC website, as well as tracking the score on Cricinfo.

Somerset have just resumed after lunch on Day One, the interval having been prolonged by rain, and have gone from a precarious 90-3 to a precarious 94-3, at which point, just as the weather had, the runs dried up. Batsmen like to score runs. When they don’t, they feel the pressure, especially if they are in the habit of playing limited overs cricket (where you just have to get on with it), which they all are these days.

So, reporting this passage of play from right to left, Cricinfo tells me this:

Bartlett caught Cook (Sir Alastair of that clan (still playing for Essex)) bowled Porter 12. Somerset 94-4. There were about another dozen dots that I couldn’t include because Cricinfo doesn’t go back that far to the right.

All the people who hate county cricket hate it because of all the dots. Nothing is happening! And all of us who love county cricket know, just from the dots, that a hell of a lot is happening. Because of all the dots.

It’s now raining again. Somerset 107-4. Never mind. They have five whole days to settle this thing.

Good vapour trail – evil vapour trail – hybrid vapour trail

This posting began several evenings ago as a quota photo post, with this pretty little scene being the beginning and the end of it:

But then I again got thinking about how significant it is that, typically, vapour trails look at they do above, but do not look like this, below:

That evil vapour trail (there’s another dimmer one further away) is made dark and evil by a line of cloud in the distance, in the evening, allowing the sun to continue lighting up the sky, but throwing a huge shadow over the vapour trail itself. This combination of circumstances, with everything all lined up just so, is rather rare.

Finally, here’s a fun photo, where the shadow from the evening cloud doesn’t engulf all of the vapour trail, merely some of it:

I know I keep banging on about how air travel wouldn’t be so popular if vapour trails typically didn’t look so pretty, but I really think this is true.

Equally significant is that the nastiest internal combustion engine pollution is now invisible. Just about all the actual smoke, certainly in London (where all of the above photos were photoed), has been done away with. If you do see smoke in London, chances are something’s on fire, in an undeliberate way.

Food and drink on wheels

Along the South Bank late yesterday afternoon. I photoed, among other things, food and drink emporia, mostly of the motorised or at least transportable sort:

My favourite by some distance is the one selling CLIMATE POSITIVE BURGERS.

Capitalism, eh? It gives you whatever you want.

Window pane sucker

Today I did the longest walk I’ve done in a month. I could show you a photo from that, but honestly, it would be quite the effort, after all my earlier efforts.

So this, when I got home, was a very nice surprise. GD2S, whom regulars here may recognise from that acronym and who for the benefit of irregulars is a lady friend of mine, sent me this photo that she had photoed, of men at work, with a window pane sucker and a crane:

Manhandling big sheets of glass into place on the outside of buildings is central to what the latest architecture now is, as anyone who pays attention to these things will already know. Typically, these days, the outside of a building is covered in sheets of glass so big that getting them up inside the building would, as likely as not, be impossible. So, the skills you see being applied in the above photo are doubtless finely honed. Especially when you consider how expensive, in cash and confusion, a mistake would be.

Come to think of it, here is a photo I photoed late this very afternoon, illustrating the exact trend I’m talking about:

There, in one photo, is that trend. In the foreground, we see Architectural Modernism from the Concrete Monstrosity era, with its windows all of a manageable size and uniformity and frankly not looking that expensive. Lose one of those window panes and getting another wouldn’t have been much of a bother. But in the background, rising up in the new new iconic style, is One Blackfriars, entirely covered in sheets of no doubt fabulously expensive glass, each sheet a different size and shape, capable of resisting all that the weather can throw at it. I presume that a fabulously more elaborate version of what is to be seen in the first of these photos is how all that glass got itself into place.

But, as of now, I am too knackered to pursue the matter, and if I’m wrong, I’m wrong. Whatever the real story, I still very much like that first photo there. I don’t know where it was photoed Somewhere in London, with an iPhone, is all I can tell you.

I really like all the reflections in that photo, in the regular windows, and in the new window that’s just arriving.