Shop window creatures

In the same shop that I found this bloke in a tiger jacket, I also encountered these smaller creatures:

I could go all ironic and have a big old sneer at these little trinkets, but the truth is I entirely get it. Cute animals are … cute. I don’t buy things like this, if only because I have nowhere I could put them, and because I hate dusting. But I love to photo such things.

I am also fond of saying, on account of it being true, that we hate architectural styles that we feel threatened by, but later often fall in love with those same styles once they are in retreat.
Something very similar applies to animals. For most of human history, animals have been threats as well as sources of food, if only because they demanded scarce time and effort to be caught or killed, and scarce resources for them to be looked after. You no more loved most animals than you loved mountains (mountains being a similar story). But now? Well, put it this way. At present animals are still hunted a bit, and still imprisoned and then eaten a lot, but it won’t be that long before a majority of the animals on earth are our pets.

Tiger jacket with reflected bulding

What’s going on in this photo is that I was recently standing on a pavement in the South Kensington area, photoing a fake person who is wearing a real jacket with a tiger’s face on the back of it, but it’s a bit hard to make out the tiger’s face because some buildings across the road, very well lit by the bright sunshine that day are simultaneously being reflected by the window that separates me from the fake man and his tiger jacker:

I really like this photo. It resembles this earlier effort in being a puzzle caused by the reflection in a shop window colliding with what is behind the shop window and in the shop itself. But unlike that earlier photo, this one is a puzzle that is soluble, and one that I can fully explain.

As I have earlier said, I think that one of the features of architectural modernity is that there is now lots of shininess, and consequently lots of reflection going on. Modernity didn’t start out so shiny, because there was lots of concrete and brickwork to start with, and glass was a lot less marvellous then than it is now. But now, architectural modernity has got very shiny indeed. So, scenes like that shown in my photo above are not mere accidents. They capture something basic about the visual experience of living in a modern city. Such images are or a thing that we constantly see, and perhaps even a thing that you constantly notice. I don’t think it’s just me, in fact I know it isn’t.

In the bottom right hand corner of the photo above, part of a parked vehicle is to be observed. Modern vehicles being another characteristic source of modernistic shininess.

Oscar on roof patrol

Friday being my day for non-human creatures, Good Friday is a good day for a good non-human creature. So here, again, is Oscar:

Master of all he surveys, in a small town in the South of France, at the top of the home of GodDaughter2’s parents. My thanks to GD2D (her dad) for the above photo, and also for the phrase I used as the title of this posting, in the email he just sent me, with the above photo.

Oscar gets regular mentions on this blog, my favourite Oscar posting here probably being this one, about how he got lost, and then found again, by GD2, with her social media brilliance.

The Airbus A390 “Clickbait” – etc.

Indeed:

I encountered this glorious airplane on Twitter, but just now Twitter is refusing to load onto my computer, for some idiot reason to do with me refusing to update or generally do as commanded, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. The posting in question is, in any case, unworthy of a link because if was one of those “15 airplanes that should never have been built”, adorned by an annoyingly small version of the above photo. Like a fool I took the bate bait (see first comment), and there were more like a hundred airplanes, many of them rather sensible, but none of them were the above goose airbus. Liars. I really should know by now not to disappear into these multi-click lists of foolishness. But then I googled “goose airbus” and found the bigger version of the photo that you see above.

Speaking of clickbate clickbait, yesterday I emailed David Thompson, with news of this crane inserts London bus into London pub garden posting here, in the hope that he might include it in his Friday ephemera clutch today, and he did (“Crane use of note”). So traffic here has jumped upwards. Check it out if you’ve not seen this. It’s a great photo. (This posting is now going to be another of these.)

David Thompson’s ephemera postings are a good source of weird animal stuff, and today, there’s a link to a story about a sea slug that keeps its head but grows another body.

I wish I could do that.

I also liked, although this is vegetable rather than animal news, this photo of unsupervised potatoes. Says DT’s first commenter (“Lady Cutekitten of Lolcat”): I once saw The Unsupervised Potatoes open for Rod Stewart.

More from the Steve Stewart-Williams Twitter feed

Yes I haven’t recently resorted to the SS-W TwF for a Friday Cats and Other Creatures posting. But in the small hours of last night I did two short postings, neither of which had anything to do with any Creatures and that needs putting right. So, here we go.

We’ll start with what sort of creature we humans are. It turns out we’re a type of fish.

Next up, well played that gazelle

Diver convinces a baby octopus to trade its plastic cup for a seashell.

An insufficiently anxious chicken.

Puppy cuddles duck.

The amazing diversity of big cats.

Some dogs making friends with the biggest cat there is.

Kangaroo fights look a lot like boxing matches except that, unlike human boxers, the kangaroos periodically rear back on their tails and kick their opponents with both feet.

Rat uses pencil to activate trap and get food.

The babe magnet that is also a giant billboard for predators.

Cats negotiating obstacle courses. It’s how the hind legs don’t hit anything either that impresses SS-W.

Finally, with me remembering this earlier posting here, a spider that is definitely confused by a mirror.

Does he know it’s him?

Danny Deraney tweets this:

But is the dog “practicing faces”? Or is it just trying to get some sort of reaction out of … another dog?

The thread that follows includes the claim that only three species besides us know that a reflection of me in a mirror is a reflection of me in a mirror: dolphins, great apes, and elephants.

But in my opinion, some dogs and some cats also pass this test. Not all dogs and all cats, because many dogs and many cats are thick as two planks. But many are not, and in my opinion are capable of working this out. As one tweeter says: “Some dogs” do have the sense of self that a mirror might reveal, if they get it. Some dogs do work out that “that’s me there”. Ditto some cats.

By the way, the reason cats and dogs vary so much in intelligence is that they have been bread by humans who were selecting for other qualities besides intelligence, like: docility, obedience, sociability, and cuteness. On the whole, intelligence was not being selected for (especially not with cats), and consequently it varies hugely. In my opinion.

The ups and downs of Oscar

If you type “Oscar” into the bit under where it says “SEARCH” on the left, you will find your way to lots of good photos of Oscar, the cat of GodDaughter2’s family who live in the South of France. Where they are now stuck.

This latest incoming photo of Oscar (thank you GD2D) is not that good, of Oscar:

But this is a good photo of a common habit of cats, which is that of climbing to what you would think would be inaccessibly lofty spots, and only then wondering how they’re going to get back down again. Well, actually, they do have an escape strategy for all such predicaments. Yowl continuously until a human rescues them, and then forget about it. But you know what I mean, I’m sure.

How did Oscar get down? Simple, he was rescued. What I want to know is How did Oscar get up there in the first place?

I’m also not asking why he got up there. He’s a cat. That’s why.

Copland creatures on a keyboard

More creature stuff. Earlier this evening, I spoke on the phone with friends, exchanging Christmas greetings. The teenage daughter of the family is about to do Grade 8 piano or some such unimaginably precocious thing, and one of the piano pieces she’s doing is by Aaron Copland, entitled The Cat and the Mouse. The idea is that it’s the noise that happens when a cat chases a mouse over a piano keyboard. Never heard of this piece until today. For me, Copland is those cheerful orchestral pieces that everyone knows, like Rodeo and Appalachian Spring. I played a YouTube video of it, done by a kid, and I have to say that to me it just sounded like a fun piece of music.

But here’s a ten year old girl playing it at a Lang Lang master class, back in 2010. She certainly seemed to relate to it. Maybe the mere idea of it being a cat and a mouse running about on a keyboard was enough to get her going. So good is this Kate Lee that I found myself digressing into wondering what she is doing now. I could find nothing of hers since 2017, when she played the first movement of the Ravel Piano Concerto with her school orchestra, than whom she was decidedly better. Presumably she’s studying piano at some music college now, keeping her head down. With Lang Lang on her side, if that is still how it is, she should do well. But then again, how many more oriental piano prodigies are there out there?

Looking forward to hearing the friends’ daughter play this piece.

Falcons flying

I photoed this photo way back in 2004, at Twickenham railway station:

And ever since, although as sporting photos go it’s nothing special, I’ve always been rather fond of it. It conjures up a world of fandom and fellowship, because if any other Falcons fan sees this guy, for instance on a train from Twickenham to Newcastle, he’s going to know he’s met a soulmate, and they’re going to have plenty to talk about. Nothing transforms public transport quite like sports fans embarking on it en masse, because sports fans, unlike regular travellers, all communicate with each other. This can be annoying, but it is certainly different.

I did some digging concerning the recent form of the Newcastle Falcons, and it turns out it’s been rather good. They got relegated from the Premiership at the end of the season before last, but bounced back in style. It was decided that they should be promoted by a committee, but since the Falcons had won fifteen out of fifteen games down there in Nearly The Premier Division and were heading for victory before Covid abolished the last few games of the season, they surely deserved their instant reinstatement.

Confirmation that they deserved to be back to the Prem came in the form of the Falcons winning all their three games so far. So they’re now eighteen for eighteen. Only the mighty Exeter Chiefs are now above them, with three stonking wins compared to the three close wins that the Falcons have got.

All this falconry is because it’s Friday and that’s my day for non-human creatures of every sort. Humans have a habit of calling their sports teams after animals and insects and fishes and whatnot. In the Premier League, the members of whom you can see at the other end of the above link, there’s the Newcastle Falcons, the Bristol Bears, Sale Sharks, Leicester Tigers, and of course there’s Wasps. Gloucester just call themselves Gloucester but there’s a big old red lion on the shield they promote themselves with.

Such creaturely ruminations aside, the one big fact that all rugby civilians should be aware of is who the most famous Newcastle Falcon has so far been. It’s this guy.

Another carnival of the animals posting

Starting with a new recording of Carnival of the Animals. Saint-SaĆ«ns at his harmonious and melodious best. It’s the Kanneh-Mason clan, with additions. Sheku, as of now the most celebrated of this much celebrated classical family, has his big cello moment with the Swan.

Relatedly, “i” reports that the way animals communicate is evolving so that it remains audible above the din made by humans.

This Is Why I’m Broke tells of a squirrel proof bird feeder, with explanatory video.

And then there’s this: Canada battles Norway for tallest moose statue.

More seriously, it is being said the Brexit has enabled Boris Johnson to unveil a ban on live animal exports.

Most significantly of all, when it comes to the ever changing relationship between animals and humans, Singapore becomes the first country to approve the sale of lab-grown meat. See also this earlier posting here, about steps in that same direction in Israel.

LATER: No official ephemera this Friday at David Thompsons, but via the a comment on the latest posting there, here’s a competitive canine in action. The enjoyment is palpable. I love how the dogs in the audience join in with their encouraging barks.

OOPS: There are some David Thompson ephemera today, starting with a couple of cats.