Photos of Oscar

My friends in Brittany have a new cat: Oscar. (He replaces this cat.)

I, of course, took many photos. I like these ones:

And I like this one best of all:

Oscar has reached the stage in life where he is still a kitten in his behaviour, but not any longer in his appearance. Sort of a cat teenager.

Oscar has a very short attention span, and is currently programmed to check out everything he sees, like some obsessively exploratory robot. He sees a lot and he keeps on seeing something else.

So, for instance, you click your fingers at him to initiate some sociability, and he sees that, and runs towards you, but then, while still on his way towards you, he sees something else behind you, and carries right on towards that, after only the most perfunctory acknowledgement of your fingers, in which he has already lost interest several tenths of a second earlier. Or he has simply forgotten why he is in motion, and he just carries on. Very strange.

But as he calms down, he will presumably start to treat people more in the way they like to be treated. When I took an afternoon nap, he also fancied a nap and had his on top of me. But, had there been a more satisfactory household appliance, like a warm fire, he might well have preferred that to curl up next to that. It didn’t seem personal, just a matter of comfort.

But I still liked him. Cats are just so likeable, whether they are actually being likeable, in their own minds, or not. All they have to be is non-objectionable and not too scared to check you out.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Personalised cat flaps

And by personalised, I mean personalised for your cat.

This evening I had a Last Friday meeting at my home, and during it, I learned about a cat phenomenon that suits my Friday Cats and Other Creatures blogging habit.

It seems, or so I was told by one of my lady guests, that a recent invention is that a cat can have a chip on its shoulder – as in: electronic chip – which means that it can get in through the cat flap in the door to your house, but no other cat can do this. For all other – chipless – cats, the cat flap refuses to flap.

This deals with the habit that cats have of following each other into their various “homes”. Apparently, cat flaps of the more primitive sort have been allowing passing stranger cats to take occupation in your home when you are gone. And your cat can’t stop them, if it is not a dominant sort of cat compared to the invading cat. If your cat is not dominant, your house can become a house for all his dominant acquaintances. Scary for you, and even scarier, I presume, for your cat. But now, your can can avoid all this grief, because if you have one of these new style cat flaps, only your cat can get into your house. Your house becomes his safe haven.

Presumably what my lady guest was talking about was something like this:

SureFlap cat flap with microchip identification is made of plastic material. All cats can go out, but only cats with corresponding microchip can come in again. …

When you think of it this way, cat flaps must have made quite a big difference to the lives of cats, good for some and bad for others. And these personalised cat flaps are another big change.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

A picture of a not missing cat and the link to the story

Twitter is getting seriously addictive for me these days. What will stop that is that it is getting a bit samey, as the same people keep on saying the same things.

Kristian Niemietz spends most of his Twitter time shouting at Corbynistas. So I was rather delighted to see this:

Miemietz supplies no link, which I hate. This hatred reminds me of the time when I used to rain curses down upon would be Libertarian Alliance authors who did not supply proper footnotes, in that now long gone era when there were no links. Just footnotes. I know, weird.

To quote myself (who else will?):

If you submit something to the LA for publication, your manuscript must be legible, and it must be complete. If we publish it exactly as you have submitted it, you should be content. On the other hand, if we are unable to publish it as it stands, either because we can’t read it, or because it lacks vital details, we will not be at all content.

We do not favour the “people generally, are, in a general way, inclined to think approximately such and such” style of writing. Who thinks it? Exactly what do they think? Where’s the proof that this is what they think? You should supply chapter and verse. If you are depending upon or taking issue with some written point of view or other, it is essential that you should enable your readers to acquaint themselves at first hand with what you are praising or criticising. They must be able to satisfy themselves that your criticisms are fair. They must, if encouraged by your praise of something, be able to explore further. The LA would be a waste of everyone’s time if all that happened was that a whole bunch of people read everything published by the LA, but read – or wrote – nothing else.

Accordingly, you must supply complete and accurate footnotes. …

Ah, those were the days. It’s a wondrous exercise in invective, though I say it myself.

Although, I note that I broke my own rule. Who actually said: “no one says that”?

But however much those days were the days, I still prefer these days, when you just shove in a link. Much easier.

Like this link, to the actual story about the missing cat that no longer was missing.

Later: Also this.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Creature photos

A frog outside a supermarket in Brixton – a lion outside some flats off Sloane Square – a swan family at Alton in Hampshire – a sign at Battersea Park station – another swan at Walthamstow Wetlands – an octopus in a shop window – Boudicca’s horse – a book about WW2 I must remember to get on Amazon – the horses on top of the Hippodrome next to Leicester Square tube:

This posting started out with just the top of the Hippodrome, and then I thought, I’ll add some other carbon-based-organism-angled photos, of which there were a few more that I thought I’d include. But getting up to a convenient nine photos took longer than I expected. It turns out I don’t photo creatures as often I thought I did, and as interestingly as I thought I did.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

What kind of car is this? Answer: A Charger and a Bee

I like it when cars are old enough to have round headlights, and I especially like it when they have not just two round headlights, but four round headlights:

Photoed by me in Wilton Road, on my way to Victoria Station, earlier this month. My camera does artificially lit darkness rather well, I think. In reality, things were not nearly so clear, or not to me.

I know, I know. Friday is the day here for cats and other creatures, not for antique cars. But, this car looks American, and I would not be at all surprised to learn that it too is some kind of animal, like a Cougar or a Mustang or some such thing. Anyone?

Some day soon, you’ll be able to feed a photo like this into Google and say: What kind of car is this? Perhaps that day is already here.

But hey, how about this?!? I’m definitely getting better at this internet searching malarkey. On the bonnet of this car it says “R/T”. So, I typed “r/t car” into Google, and straight away got to this:

R/T is the performance marker used on Dodge automobiles since the 1960s (much like Chevrolet Super Sport). R/T stands for Road/Track (no “and”). R/T models come with R/T badging, upgraded suspension, tires, brakes, and more powerful engines.

So, which Dodge would this one be? (Scrolls down through all the pictures on offer.) It would be, unless my eyes deceive me, the 1971 Dodge Charger Super Bee. A charger and a “super” bee. So, two kinds of incompatible other creature. There you go. What did I just tell you?

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Copycat (and copydog)

Those little chinese cats, the ones that slowly wave their paws in the air, are often to be seen in gift shops. But I never thought I’d see one of these pretend cats being copied by a real cat.

Dogs will copy, including copying their humans, like in this bit of video at the same Twitter feed, but I never knew that any cats were also this way inclined. I didn’t know that there were actual copycats.

I guess my surprise comes from me not having known any cats who were growing up in the company of other cats, and hence still at the stage of learning how to be a cat, by copying those other cats.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

A Mickey Mouse posting

Indeed:

At the time I took that photo, in Lower Marsh, I was with someone else, and just grabbed the shot before moving on at once. But I reckon it came out really well.

Wikipedia tells us of Mickey Mouse’s compiucated origin. He was a replacement for a rabbit, and before a mouse was arrived at, it seems that many other animals were considered:

Mickey Mouse was created as a replacement for Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, an earlier cartoon character created by the Disney studio for Charles Mintz, a film producer who distributed product through Universal Studios. In the spring of 1928, with the series going strong, Disney asked Mintz for an increase in the budget. But Mintz instead demanded that Walt take a 20 percent budget cut, and as leverage, he reminded Disney that Universal owned the character, and revealed that he had already signed most of Disney’s current employees to his new contract. Angrily, Disney refused the deal and returned to produce the final Oswald cartoons he contractually owed Mintz. Disney was dismayed at the betrayal by his staff but determined to restart from scratch. The new Disney Studio initially consisted of animator Ub Iwerks and a loyal apprentice artist, Les Clark, who together with Wilfred Jackson were among the few who remained loyal to Walt. One lesson Disney learned from the experience was to thereafter always make sure that he owned all rights to the characters produced by his company.

In the spring of 1928, Disney asked Ub Iwerks to start drawing up new character ideas. Iwerks tried sketches of various animals, such as dogs and cats, but none of these appealed to Disney. A female cow and male horse were also rejected. They would later turn up as Clarabelle Cow and Horace Horsecollar. A male frog was also rejected. It would later show up in Iwerks’ own Flip the Frog series. Walt Disney got the inspiration for Mickey Mouse from a tame mouse at his desk at Laugh-O-Gram Studio in Kansas City, Missouri. In 1925, Hugh Harman drew some sketches of mice around a photograph of Walt Disney. These inspired Ub Iwerks to create a new mouse character for Disney. “Mortimer Mouse” had been Disney’s original name for the character before his wife, Lillian, convinced him to change it, and ultimately Mickey Mouse came to be.

Those two paragraphs are, at Wikipedia, crammed with links. Follow the link above and scroll down to where it says “Origin”, if you want to follow any of these links.

I will, however, honour the amazingly named Ub Iwerks with a link from here. I wonder how he was pronounced. His dad was from Germany, and I think I know how they’d have said the name there. But, Ub (!?!) was born in Kansas. When it came to Amercans pronouncing foreign names, all bets were off. My guess is there were lots of Germans where the Iwerks family grew up, and thus it was not felt necessary to do any name changing.

Blog and learn.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Pigs don’t pig out

Today, in Lower Marsh, I met up with a friend for some friendly tech support, and this being Friday, both before and after that, I was on the look out for Cats and/or Other Creatures related photo-opportunities.

I also like antique vehicles.

So, I was delighted to encounter this:

The Cat’s Back presents:

Pig Out Rolling Gourmet Kitchen.

But, is it fair to describe the human propensity to over-eat as “pigging out”?

Humans definitely describe their uniquely relentless fascination with sex, all the year round, as “animal”, but most animals only get sexually excited during their – usually pretty short – mating seasons. Humans are surely among the very few creatures whose mating season is: always. So that isn’t fair. This makes me suspect that we blaim pigs for overeating when actually they don’t. But, what do I know?

Google google.

Here we go:

Most of a pig’s day is spent foraging and eating. The end of their snout has as many tactile receptors as the human hand, and is a highly specialised and sensitive tool. This, along with their exceptional sense of smell, enables pigs to locate and uncover tasty treats such as seeds, roots, and truffles. Unlike dogs or humans, pigs never dangerously overeat – even when given access to unlimited food.

Blog and learn, assuming that is right. Not: pig out. Dog out, maybe? But dogging already means a form of human sex (see above), so dogging out wouldn’t do at all. (Mind you, I have to admit that dogs seem to have a permanent mating season also.)

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

The Gayer-Anderson Cat

Not long ago, Perry de Havilland told me what sounds like an old, old joke, about the difference between dogs and cats.

We feed and pamper and love and look after dogs, and from this, dogs conclude that we are gods. We feed and pamper and love and look after cats, and from this, cats conclude that they are gods.

As I say, it sounded old, but I liked it. And I remembered that joke when, this evening, searching for quota cats or quota other creatures, I encountered these photos, of books, in the British Museum. Including a book about a cat …:

… and of that same cat, celebrated on a clutch of mugs:

I took these Gayer-Anderson Cat photos in Feb 2010, but I doubt it’s moved since then.

Read about the Gayer-Anderson Cat, which actually was a god, here. Gayer-Anderson wasn’t two people. He was just the one, a certain Major Robert Grenville Gayer-Anderson.

Get your own Gayer-Anderson Cat, for £450. (£405 to members.) Or, you could 3D print your Gayer-Anderson Cat.

When I took these photos, I was in point-shoot-forget mode, and have given them no further thought until now.

I love the internet.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Jordan Peterson on why zebras look the way they do

Today, I was thinking, what with it being Friday: What can I put here about cats or other creatures that would be of interest? But instead of looking for something along those lines, I was listening to a video conversation between Jordan Peterson and Camille Paglia, about the sorry state of the humanities departments of American universities. I can’t remember why or how, but I was. And twenty four and a half minutes into this, I listened in astonishment as Peterson suddenly started talking, fascinatingly, about zebras.

Why do zebras look the way they do, so very black and and so very white, and so very stripey?

This has long puzzled me. The arch enemy of the zebra is the lion, and the lions are impeccably camouflaged. Their coats are the same colour as the veldt, or whatever it is that the zebras roam about on and that the lions hunt the zebras on, and so the zebras don’t see the lions coming. But the zebras, with their garish black and white plumage, are nothing at all like the colour of the land they live on. What gives? Why the lurid and fantastically visible stripes?

Today I learned the answer to this question.

The answer is: When lions hunt zebras, they do this by deciding on just the one zebra that they are going to hunt, and they concentrate entirely on that one zebra. Eventually, the chosen zebra is exhausted, and the lions catch it and kill it.

And how do zebras respond, evolutionarily speaking? Answer: By becoming extremely hard to distinguish from each other. Their very stripey stripes do exactly this. The result of that is that although the lions try to hunt just the one zebra, thereby exhausting it and killing it, they instead keep getting confused about exactly which zebra is the one they are trying to hunt. And the result of that is that instead of hunting one zebra to its death, they hunt half a dozen zebras, not to any of their deaths, and go home without their dinner.

Some scientists who were studying zebra plumage did what turned out to be a rather cruel experiment which proved this. They squirted some colour onto one of the zebras in a zebra herd. The lions, confident now that they would not be confused about which zebra they were hunting, proceeded to hunt that one marked zebra to its inevitable death. Without such marking out, they couldn’t tell which zebra was which. With such marking, hunting success followed, every time. Every time, they chose the marked and hence easily distinguishable zebra.

I did not know this.

Peterson’s point was that American humanities professors are like this. They all have totally crazy, yet totally similar, opinions. That way, their enemies can’t fixate on one of them and destroy him. Or something. In this version of the zebra stripes story, Peterson is saying that people in general are like zebras. But I really didn’t care about that. It was the zebras and their stripes that interested me.

I love the internet.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog