On how we love animals (except when we love how they taste)

While in France, I read the whole of The Square and the Tower, and then embarked upon The Ape that Understood the Universe.

In the latter book, the matter of how humans get all sentimental about animals is mentioned (pp. 59-60):

… Why do so many people take such delight in string at infant members of other species? It’s not as if, say, porcupines enjoy staring at baby chickens. As with porn, our love of these nonhuman animals is probably not an adaptation. More than likely, it’s spillover from psychological mechanisms designed for more human-centered purposes. There’s a certain cluster of traits that people everywhere find irresistibly cute. This includes big round eyes in the center of the face, a small nose, and plump, stubby limbs. Our affection for creatures with these features presumably evolved to motivate us to care for our own infants and toddlers. But the same features are found in many other infant mammals, and even in the adult members of some nonhuman species. As a result, we often feel affectionate and protective toward these individuals as well – not because it’s adaptive, but just because adaptations aren’t perfect. By the way, as you might already have
noticed, the spill over hypothesis doesn’t just explain our fondness for cute animal videos. It also hints at an explanation for a much older and more pervasive phenomenon: our habit of keeping pets.

Motivated I am sure by exactly this sort of fondness for animals myself, I have become more and more intrigued by this general human propensity. Which is why so many of my photos involve non-human creatures of one sort or another.

Here are some of the non-human creatures photos I photoed while in France recently:

Even the photos involving signs urging dog owners to clear up canine crap (photos 12, 14 and 17) are about our positive feelings towards animals, because the offending dogs are pets. And even the two plastic barrier things (photo 16) are “other creatures”, in the sense that we insist on seeing the faces of creatures where there are none, even though these particular non-creatures each have only one eye. Yes, we do love these creatures.

And yet, by way of a corrective, we also do these kinds of things to particularly tasty creatures, in this case to various mammals and to fishes:

Yum.

A Christmas taxi

Whatever the date when you’re reading this, Happy Christmas. Hope you’re having one. Hope you had one. Whichever applies.

Today (as I blog) I did what I have often done on Christmas Days past. I went for a photo-walk. It will probably delay the moment when I stop wanting to cough, but it was good.

I went down Victoria Street to Parliament Square, and then along the Embankment, the plan being to take the tube back from Embankment to St James’s Park. Trouble was, I had forgotten about the tube being shut, so I had to walk back, and by the time I got home I was exhausted. So, just the one photo, for now.

The one I have picked wasn’t the best photo I photoed, but it was one of the most Christmassy (sp?) photos I photoed:

That this was one of the most Christmassy (sp?) things I saw was because this part of London, unlike the West End, doesn’t seem to go in for ostentatious Christmassy (sp?) lighting effects.

That taxi is about the nearest London is going to get this year to a White Christmas.

There were lots of tourists wandering about doing what I was doing, taking photos, mostly with their mobile phones. But I felt like I was the only local, and that’s a big reason why I like going out photoing on Christmas Day.

I We It – January 2004

All this coughing I’ve been doing lately, and the consequent not sleeping properly, is keeping me confined to my quarters, which means that photo-ops have been few.

So, I’ve done more than my usual amount of rootling around in the archives. In which archives, this evening, I found these photos:

I remember being quite impressed by these artworks, when I first came across them, in (as we can see) Gloucester Road tube. Kudos to me for taking a photo of the poster that told me now, this evening, who did these Things and what he called them, as well as just lots of photos of the Things themselves. There’s even a clear date on the poster, which corroborates the date Windows Photo Viewer offers, as the date when these photos were “first modified”.

I do not recall being as impressed by any other artwork in a tube station since then. Maybe this was the first art I ever properly saw (properly because for the first time I was looking for stuff to photo (with my recently acquired Canon A70 (had I had a better camera the photos would have been a lot prettier))) in a tube station, and maybe that’s why it made quite an impression on me.

I say “quite” because even these Things were not really that great. Quite striking. Quite impressive. And more so than just about all Art in the Tube that I have encountered since then, which has mostly been very disappointing. Well, quite disappointing.

LATER (FRIDAY MORNING): The above done in some haste. I now, with some difficulty, found my way to this, which says more concerning the above images. Summary: Corporate capitalism is scary because it is totalitarian. (He’s quoting adverts for various capitalist goods and services.)

Suspicion: he thinks we should all believe in what would actually, I think, turn into actual totalitarianism. He has a quite big point. Corporate capitalism is becoming rather totalitarian. But he is wrong on the even bigger point. No wonder I only quite liked it. It is a quite expert attack on my opinions, and he’d surely agree about that, if about little else of a political sort, if we ever talked it through.

The City – 5 years ago

Horrid weekend, having a cold that I’d postponed on Friday because I had a meeting to host. Sleep shot to hell. Tidying up to be done. So, quota photo time, or so I thought. Inevitably, it got out of hand:

All of that was exactly five years ago, to the day. Having assembled them all, I couldn’t then postpone shoving them up.

There was a Lego Gherkin next to the regular Gherkin. They still thought, or were pretending to think, that they were building the Helter Skelter, which they have now turned into something else, even bigger and a lot duller. Otherwise, it all looked much as it does now.

Mariah says to eat crisps for Christmas

A feature, by which I mean a bug, of Growing old is that all the heartfelt love songs of earlier times are now recycled by their original performers to sell sofas, deodorants, food, etc..

All I Want For Christmas by Mariah Carey is one of my most favourite pop songs, long before sophisticates came around to realising how good it was. (Same with Abba. I loved them from the moment they won Eurovision, before even the Gays noticed them. With the greatest pop songs of a certain vintage, the rule was: Me, Gays, Girls, The Public.)

But now, it turns out that all Mariah Carey really wants for Christmas is …:

… a packet of potato crisps.

Personally I like potato crisps, hence my possession of this crisp packet. But, I despise almost all crisp advertising. What crisp advertising ought to say is: Yes, our crisps are probably bad for you if you scoff too many of them, but they taste terrific, even the plane old salt-flavoured ones. But oh no. Instead, they bribe celebs whose successes in life have been based on not scoffing crisps or similar products, to tell the rest of us to do this, by pretending that they do too, and thereby to imply that crisps are good for you. The more you scoff them, the thinner you’ll be and the better you’ll be at football, and you’ll be athletic enough to win an Olympic medal.

The thing is, though, that Mariah Carey has had serious difficulty staying slim, and she might actually be telling the truth, in now claiming to prefer crisps to the sort of boyfriend she could have when she was young and effortlessly slim and when the world was at her feet.

Lady photoer on tour bus

We are on Westminster Bridge, in October of 2017, and a tour bus comes by. The lady photoer first photos the Wheel, and then turns her attention around, towards Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament:

I especially like the light and the colours in these photos. The Wheel is in front of a dark cloud background, but is itself lit up just that bit more by the afternoon sun, because behind us the weather is brighter. The colours of the bus go very well with all that. And the railing on the bus provides facial anonymity when her camera does not. I know what she looks like, from other photos I photoed of her. But I am not telling the big computer in the sky that she was doing what she was when she was. That’s her business, not the BC’s.

Modelled and graphic after-echoes of the Helter Skelter

In August I wrote here about the Helter Skelter that never was, in a posting that featured how it looked when they started (as they then thought) to build it. Well, in the course of rootling through the archives looking for a very different image, I came across several graphic after-echoes of this building. Even though it never got built, this non-building quickly achieved “iconic” status.

Here was the original idea (with apologies for all those hard-to-avoid patches of shininess), which I photoed at the Building Centre, which is in Store Street just off Tottenham Court Rd, in 2010:

Note how they were then unsure about whether to call this Big Thing the “Bishopsgate Tower” or “The Pinnacle”.

And, at the bottom of the verbiage on the right there, it says:

Status: Due for completion in 2011

But I photoed my photos of the early stages of “The Pinnacle” in November 2012. By then, London had decided that this Big Thing wasn’t going to be “The Pinnacle”, but rather the Helter Skelter, which is what it remains today, despite never actually having been built.

Soon after then, building ceased, and they started wondering what they could manage to do on that site, preferably without destroying those early Pinnacle stumps.

Nevertheless, in the big ongoingly updated model of London that they also have at the Building Centre, I took this photo of the City Big Things bit of the Model, in the summer of 2013. The Helter Skelter was by then known to be doomed, but it had yet to be removed from the Model …:

… , mainly, I guess, because they then had no clear idea what was going to go there instead.

The Helter Skelter is now long gone from this Model, because eventually they did decide what to put there instead. Now an even Bigger Thing is very nearly finished:

The Biggest Thing in that photo, photoed by me from Tower Bridge, and which also includes another photoer, is now called “22 Bishopsgate”, what with it being such a Lump that it doesn’t deserve a proper London name. But I am sure some suitably insulting moniker will be agreed upon by London for this Lump in due course, perhaps involving the word Lump.

Meanwhile, the Helter Skelter lives on, still, in 2019.

Here is a photo I took in Bermondsey this summer, advertising beer:

There’s the Helter Skelter, right in the middle, between the Gherkin and the Wheel.

And here is another even better relic of the Helter Skelter. This shop window graphic is a walk away from where I live, in Vauxhall Bridge Road. I keep expecting this graphic to be altered, but every time I go by this enterprise, there it still is, and there it remains, unless it has been updated during the last day or two:

Again, the Helter Skelter, between the BT Tower and the Shard.

How long will these relics last? I will certainly be keeping an eye on that last one, because I go past it every time I go shopping for food.

Big Ben is having its scaffolding removed

Here’s a photo I took from just upstream of the Blackfriars Station entrance. It is of one of the many weird alignments you get, from the fact that the River Thames is not straight, but full of twists and turns.

Here we are, on the north side of the Thames, looking through the Wheel, which is on the south side of the Thames, past one of the rectanguloid lumps attached to or near to the National Theatre, also on the south side, towards … Big Ben. Big Ben on the north side. Big Ben smothered in scaffolding:

The reason I mention this photo now (aside from the fact that I like it) is that today, I learned from Guido Fawkes that this scaffolding has now started to disappear:

As was announced by Parliamentary Authorities last week, Elizabeth Tower has begun the prolonged process of shedding some of its cladding. To the palpable relief of tourists who have experienced years of photographic disappointment …

When Guido says “Elizabeth Tower”, he of course means Big Ben. And, also of course, I loved all the scaffolding around Big Ben, and have numerous photos of it taken from all sorts of different places and angles.

For the last year or two I have found myself connecting this scaffolding with the battle to accomplish Brexit. Time standing still, or some such thing. I had a sort of bet with myself that when the scaffolding came down, Brexit would finally happen. (I favour Brexit, having voted for it in the referendum.)

But now, it seems the scaffolding will be long gone before Brexit occurs, if it ever does. Although, on my television, they’re still advertising Brexit as going to happen at the end of this month. Maybe it will happen then, but what do I know?

Concerning these latest delays to Brexit, my favourite internet posting by far has been another one at Guido Fawkes, more recent than the one linked to above, concerning a malfunctioning advert.

For my more serious Brexit opinions, listen, if you can stand the idea, to this conversation between Patrick Crozier and me, which I reckon still makes pretty good sense. Although, if you’re a Remainer, you should probably give it a miss.

Tasting the sunshine out east last August

Yes, last summer I went on several exeditions to such places as the Dome, and beyond. Here is a clutch of photos I photoed in the beyond category. On August 11th, I journeyed to the Dome, then took the Dangleway across the River to the Victoria Docks, and walked along the north side of them, ending my wanderings at the City Airport DLR station:

There are two of these favourite sculptures to be seen, in Photo 7 and Photo 11.

There are 35 photos in all. I think maybe my favourite is 33, which includes an advert that says: “OH REALLY?” I like that, for some reason.

Photo 27 has a sign, on the side of the Tate & Lyle factory, saying “TASTE THE SUNSHINE”. It was a very sunny day. I count three that include shadow selfies (23, 24, 31).

It is so much easier doing this kind of thing than it was at The Old Blog. (My thanks yet again to Michael J, who did this new blog for me.)