Danish cows entertained by cellists

Further to this earlier posting about the musical tastes of cows, incoming from Cousin David, in the form of a photo of cows being entertained by cellists:

But where was this happening? Image googling soon answered that, which was also where I found this other photo, which I particularly like:

Denmark.

About once a week, students from the Scandinavian Cello School in the Stevns municipality in Denmark, come to Haugaard’s farm to play calming classical music for her livestock.

“The musicians say when they play something [the cows] like very much, they get close up to the musicians,” Haugaard told As It Happens host Carol Of.

“We think that it must [mean] they like the music especially. But we cannot know, because they cannot tell us.”

Yes, it could just mean that the cows like eating more than they dislike cello music. But the getting close thing at least suggests that they like the music as well as the food.

Death matters and so does Surrey doing well

Earlier today I had a really serious phone conversation with my Designated Best Friend about palliative care, being kept alive with scary electric shock machines (which my DBF said actually work very rarely and are far more likely to inflict painful and permanent damage like a busted rib). In short, it was a conversation about my death. And I entirely saw the point of this conversation and was very grateful to my DBF for having it with me. I need to say what sort of death I would like, before it actually starts seriously happening and I become incapable of saying anything coherent about what I want. So, important stuff.

Problem was, I had been keeping half an eye on the county cricket, and in particular on this game between Hampshire and Surrey. Surrey have had a wretched season so far, and Hampshire have been doing really well, so that was going to start badly for Surrey and get worse and worse as the next few days went by. But I was paying attention anyway, because, you know, you never know.

So, Surrey had won the toss and had put Hampshire in to bat. But then, after nearly an hour of further Surrey underachievement, and for the first time this season after three dud games, Surrey suddenly started doing really, really well. Right in the middle of the serious phone conversation, this is what I observed, on Cricinfo, being done by two Surrey bowlers called Clark and Clarke to the hitherto formidable Hampshire middle order:

For non-cricket people, that is very successful bowling by Surrey and very unsuccessful batting by Hampshire, who, in the space of thirteen deliveries, went from 44 for 2 to 44 for 6. Until this exact moment, Surrey had not been taking nearly enough wickets or taking them nearly soon enough. Then, in a blink, all that completely changed.

I want to insist that I never lost the thread of the serious conversation I was having with DBF: No please don’t resuscitate me if I have a heart attack in a hospital, but yes indeed, I’d rather die at home but how much might that end up costing, given that professional care will surely be needed?, and no you’re right it’s important to discuss all this beforehand so thanks for doing this. But also, strictly inside my head you understand, I was screaming to myself: Hey look, Surrey are doing really well!!! Look at that!!! Four wickets for no runs!!! On the first morning!!! Wow!!! Yeah yeah, I’m going to be dying soon and I know I have to get that sorted, but … wow!!! I even managed to do the above screen capture, without at any time failing to be conversationally coherent and serious with DBF about my death.

This is what I love about following sport, especially the way I have done for the last decade and a half, at a distance, via The Internet. Great moments in sport, like this moment when Surrey Actually Started Doing Well in 2021, intersect with how your life was at the time. I still remember that 1981 miracle Ashes test match fondly, and listening to it on the radio in a van with which I was (very happily) delivering number plates, a radio which only worked when the van’s engine was not running, which complicated things in a delightful way that I’ll never forget for as long as I live. Well, now, here’s another of these classic sport-meets-real-life moments. Life doesn’t get much more real than when you’ve been told that “for as long as I live” isn’t actually going to be that long, and sport doesn’t get much better than when your team has been firing blanks for a month and then suddenly does something like what’s in the picture above.

By the end of the day Surrey were totally on top. Surrey’s bowlers, particularly Clark and Clarke (there were even three Hampshire batters who got out caught Clarke bowled Clark), were unstoppable, and Hampshire’s first innings total came to a mere 92. Hampshire’s much feared foreign pace men, Abbot and Abbas, then had to bowl in quite different conditions after lunch and achieved only the one Surrey wicket in the whole of the rest of the day. Surrey are already ahead on first innings and should – should – now win comfortably. Even Hashim Amla, who got 0 and 0 in the previous game, got some runs, along with Burns, and both could make more tomorrow.

All my life people have been telling me stories of old men dying with smiles on their faces, merely because their sports team was doing well when they died. Would I still feel that way about sport when death stared me in the face? So far: yes.

Public ancientism and private modernism in Highgate

One of the themes I believe I have encountered in the course of my architecture-spotting is the one I’ve been calling The Triumph of Modernism Indoors. These photos, taken from a piece about a house conversion that’s just been done in Highgate, illustrate that this may not be quite the right distinction.

Here’s a piece of classic ancientist victory, in the form of a deceptively normal looking house in Highgate. It’s had a total makeover, but you wouldn’t know this just looking at it from the street outside:

Indoors, however, modernism reigns supreme:

However, modernism has also made its presence felt out of doors, round the back, in the garden, which passers-by do not see:

The continuing dominance (not total victory by any means) of ancientism has been in “public” rather that “outdoors”, and the triumph of modernism has been in “private” rather than merely indoors. The point being that the outdoor triumphs of modernism are tending particularly to happen also in the private bits of outdoors.

What’s going on here is that the “private citizen” wants modernism in those bits of his place that he totally controls, because modernism makes more sense, and is cheaper and quicker to do. But, “public citizens” don’t care for the way modernism looks, especially if it replaces ancientism in the public realm. So the public bits of a building, if they are now ancientism, cannot be smashed to bits and replaced by modernism, if preserved ancientism is an option, as it was for this ancientist Highgate home. But if the private citizen himself positively likes the public appearance of modernism, he can do modernism outdoors also, provided he only does it in the private bits of outdoors, the bits that he experiences but which passers-by do not.

Everything will hinge on whether an ancientist house with a modernist extension out the back in the garden will sell for the same silly money as a house with no modernist stuff outdoors in the garden.

I’m guessing it will so sell, provide only that the extension does the job without silly things like a leaking roof.

I am zeroing in on another over-arching fact about “private householders”. They’d like a house that looks publicly nice, but when economic push comes to economic shove, what matters is whether their newly acquired house works properly, without having to be expensively mended. For all their aesthetic tastes. their aesthetic tastes don’t actually matter, or rather, don’t matter enough to have real world consequences. What does matter is that their machine for living in should tick over correctly, the way a properly functioning machine should.

This increasingly “private” blogging that I’ve been doing for about the last fifteen years is really starting to achieve things for me.

An exercise lesson on Zoom

I can remember when e-mail became a necessity for me. I got a phone call from someone who asked: “What’s your email?” and I said “I don’t do email”. It was the way she then said “Oh” that made me realise that something had happened.

There hasn’t been a single moment like this for me with Zoom, but it has become made clear to me that making easy and regular use of Zoom has now become part of everyday life for all civilised people. Stage 4 lung cancer means you get cut some slack on these sorts of things, or you do by the people who are treating you. Nevertheless, I got, and get, the message.

And today I got an exercise lesson on Zoom from an exercise coach at the Royal Marsden. For some reason or other, the audio aspect wasn’t perfect, there being a slight delay, like the Royal Marsden was in India. But the job got done very satisfactorily nevertheless, and it’s hard to see how this could have been done by any other means than me being at the Marsden in person. Like all good teachers, he wasn’t content with showing me what he wanted me to do. He wanted also to see me doing it. Not only did Zoom enable him to show me what exercises he wanted me to do, he was also able to see that I was doing them the way I should be doing them.

All of which will be very old news to almost everyone reading this. I am well aware that when it comes to Zoom I am the ultimate late adopter, just as I was with email. Nevertheless, this posting is definite Zoom information for you, even if you’ve been using Zoom for the last two years minimum. And the information is that everyone is now using Zoom, the proof of this being that I am now using it.

Pfaith

Seen recently at a Facebook Friend’s page:

While searching for more about this, I came upon this recent story:

A single pill home cure for Covid could be available by the end of the year, according to reports.

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, whose coronavirus vaccine has been successfully rolled out around the world, has begun human trials of the first pill specifically designed to stop the virus at its buildings in the United States and the European manufacturers’ base in Belgium.

The company, which brought the first US-approved Covid-19 vaccine to market, is conducting the stage one clinical trial on an oral antiviral therapy that a patient could take when they first develop symptoms, which would make it the first oral antiviral treatment of its kind in the world for coronavirus.

My take on Covid as of now (guess (reserve the right to change mind without embarrassment)) is: Lockdown CROSS, Treatment TICK, Vaccines TICK. Most of “They” were wrong to obsess about Lockdown, wrong that treatment wouldn’t work, and right about vaccines being something worth throwing a ton of money at. Good that the treatment error seems now to be being corrected.

Alas, Lockdown, is something that many now love, for quasi-religious reasons, and want to continue with.

James Tooley talks about Really Good Schools

I’ve just listened to the whole of this podcast (which I encountered here), in which Paul E. Peterson talks (for a little over forty minutes) with one of my most favourite public intellectuals on the entire planet, Professor James Tooley:

It’s not just what he says; it’s the way he says it.

Here is a link to more information about Tooley’s latest book, Really Good Schools. If you want to buy it on Amazon, here.

When I searched Amazon for “tooley really good schools” I was asked if I meant “toilet really good schools”. But, it did at least show me what was looking for.

What Tooley says, in his ingratiatingly polite and scrupulous manner, is that the best way to sort out education is to have a totally free market. He is the world’s leading spotter of private sector schools for the world’s poorest people, and would like to see this sort of thing spread to richer countries. Although, interestingly, he is skeptical about education vouchers. Politically, they don’t seem to work, because they attract such heavyweight teaching union opposition, and crucially, even if they could be made to stick politically, they might well put off the very people who would be best at owning and running such schools.

Tooley and Peterson also talk about the impact of Covid restrictions, and the consequent rise of home schooling, particularly in the USA. But although Covid has revealed that public schools have been bad compared to private schools during this crisis, when the crisis passes, will very much be revealed as having changed with any permanence? Maybe. We shall see.

Blue iceberg

Curiosità Scientifiche:

How come? Here’s how:

Blue icebergs form in 2 ways: either because they flipped upside down by emerging the submerged part out of the water, or because of extreme ice compression that takes place in hundreds of years.

Blue icebergs are often very old, and contain very little air, originally present in the ice. This composition varies the refractive index generating the amazing blue color.

Comments included: “Spettacolare!”, “Bellissimo”, “Fantastico!”, “La natura è meravigliosa” and “Stupendo”. Or as we Anglos say, and as an Anglo did say: “Wow”.

Photo by Robert B. Dunbar. All hail the Internet. Thank you Nick Gillespie.

No wonder artists don’t do beauty any more.

Surrey pasted

Ouch:

Surrey overnight looked like they could maybe make a fight of it, but by lunch they’d been totally blown away.

Following sport has not been so good lately, for me. Various England cricket teams, after a good start, getting beaten in India in all formats. England in the Six Nations. Spurs being Spurs.

And now this. Surrey, having Spurs money and Spurs talent but now getting (with apologies to 6k) Sheffield United results.

LATER: On the other hand, Patrick Crozier will be very happy about Watford getting promoted straight back to the Premier League. And in addition to supporting the England rugby men I also support the England rugby ladies, and also the Harlequins rugby men. So, the news got better as the day went on.

SUNDAY: Here is how Ravindra Jadeja ended the innings of the Chennai Super Kings against the Royal Challengers Bangalore:

Thirty seven off the over. RCB never got close. Surrey’s Sam Curran plays (rather effectively) for the Super Kings, so that cheered me up.

On the other hand

Invisible Oscar

Oscar, the cat of GodDaughter2’s parental home down in the South of France, is a favourite object of photographic devotion here, and on the right there, the latest Oscar photo, from GD2D, showing him in one of his favourite resting places.

One of the many malfunctions of the Old Blog was that if I wasn’t careful, photos next to text, like that one, would crash into the posting below, if there wasn’t enough text. Doesn’t happen here. Good.

Three especially good links to SteveStuWill

As I mentioned earlier in the week, I’ve been catching up with the SteveStuWill Twitter feed. This time, I’ve picked out just three creaturely amusements that particularly entertained me. I could have listed many more, but these are the ones I especially liked. I mean, if I link to lots of them, you might as well just go there and scroll. If I pick only a few, you get only a few, which may be just what you want.

So: Male sea horse giving birth, to a lot of sea foals; a black heron hunts fish by blocking out the sun; and perhaps most remarkable of the lot, the courtship dance of the hooded grebe. Enjoy.