Robot dog progress

Researchers publish open-source, lower cost design for 3D printed robot dog.

What are the future applications of of such a “dog”? Some rather unconvincing tasks are mentioned in the above report, like hanging about in a forest “monitoring” animals. But that sounds like green-friendly make-work to me.

Warfare in complicated terrain does seem like an obvious application. Exploring Mars, in other words, and then fighting other robots for the control of Mars. And meanwhile filming it all, for entertainment purposes?

Airplanes flew for quite a long time before they found a major use for them, which was to spy on opposing armies and to make big guns cleverer, and then to fight and kill other airplanes. Then came high tech sport, in the form of air races, which was really just research and development for better and faster war planes.

Around then, also, very tentatively, airplanes began to deliver letters. And then, airplanes began to deliver people, which was to say very rich people. Eventually, half a century after they first flew, airplanes became part of the good life for regular humans.

Robot dogs look like they might follow a similar path. As of now, robot dogs are the robot equivalent of the useless and clumsy contraptions that airplanes were in the nineteen-noughts, good only for lunatics in goggles to play with.

Comments of how these weird creatures might actually make themselves useful, more quickly and less destructively than my grumpy pessimism just said, would be most welcome.

For starters, if these things are ever going to be liked by humans, they’re going to need heads, heads that are more than merely decorative which gather and transmit information. Then, maybe (and I seem to recall speculating along these lines at my long-lost Education Blog): child minding? A combination of such robot-human interaction and transport? Like a sort of super-intelligent horse?

Matt Welch on how to practise

I’ve had this tweet open for ever, and I was just looking through all the results, with a view to shutting it.

David Burge:

I’m looking for advice, but not about anything in particular GO

In my opinion, the best advice came from Matt Welch:

Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.

Very true. Both halves.

I’m English. You practise, verb. What you practise is practice, noun. Like Advise and Advice. (Commenters: If you think that’s wrong, I don’t care.)

He just walks it off and goes straight into the pub

Here, via David Thompson.

As a commenter comments: adrenalin is a wonderful thing. Because actually, as another commenter reports:

“Mr Smith suffered two fractures to his shoulder and ribs, as well as some internal bruising.”

The psycho bus driver has been “sentenced”. Mostly to never being allowed to drive a bus ever again, I devoutly hope.

Seeing this reminds you of how well and how carefully most bus drivers do drive.

Maintenance issues should now be sorted

Any person who have had anything to do with IT (aka everybody) knows, when IT work is being done (even something as humble as doing some rearranging of a little blog like this one), that the word “should” can cover a multitude of unforeseen disruptions. So, maybe the little round of maintenance issues that Michael was dealing with over the weekend and then again this morning (he refers to them in comment 4 here) have, in reality, not yet been entirely sorted. But Michael and I both believe we have good reason to hope that, now, they have been.

One thing that you may have suffered from is that if you clicked on a link from a posting here to another posting here you may, depending on when you did this, have been told “about: blank”, instead of getting to the linked posting. This was caused by the fact that this blog was being migrated (to somewhere cheaper) but migrated before its name had been migrated. It changed its name from “brianmicklethwaitsnewblog” to “”, and helpfully changed all the links from here to somewhere else here accordingly. It had then to be persuaded that its name was still brianmicklethwaitsnewblog. Which it now has been. As in: should have been.

Other strange things happened this morning, but they too have stopped, and so, touch wood and hope to die, all should now be well. If all from where you sit seems not to be well, please comment to that effect. (That’s assuming the comments system is itself working. Follow the above link and you’ll learn of three lost comments from last night.)

What I’m basically saying is: Sorry if you’ve been mucked about, but with any luck it should have stopped now.

Dogs Stuck To The Ceiling


Natalie Solent mentioned this strange phenomenon in a Samizdata piece entitled Solving the problem of dogs stuck to the ceiling. Natalie quoted a commenter saying, ironically of course, that this is a serious problem which We Should All Seriously Think About, and herself commented on that comment thus:

Although the writer did not try to make any political capital from this issue, it did lead me to wonder what other problems in modern society are conceptually similar to the plight of these dogs.

Natalie’s point being that some problems are only problems because you are looking at them the wrong way. In this case, the wrong way up. It’s quite a profound piece. She says that the “gig economy” is such a problem, and I agree. There are definitely problems associated with the gig economy, like people not paying for work by the date they promised they would. But just making the gig economy illegal would make everything far worse for the gigsters. There already is a law saying payments have to arrive when promised, but it is no use to the gigsters at the lower end of the gig economy. They’d rather do work that they do eventually get paid for, probably, and in the meantime not antagonise such a customer. Their solution is to get more and better customers, not to sue. One of my best friends (the one who photoed this bird, and also the ducklings in the previous posting just below this one) is a gigster. As was I a few years back.

Like I say. Quite profound stuff.

But I only paid Natalie’s piece proper attention after David Thompson had linked to it, while mentioning that he got it via Samizdata. In his Friday ephemera, he likes weirdnesses of all kinds, and likes libertarian messages also to be smuggled in in among the weirdness. So, this was all perfect for him.

40 Strand

Alastair wondered, in a comment, what this building is, as had I. Today, the weather looked good again, and having nowhere in particular to go, I thought I’d do what I hadn’t done earlier, which was find out exactly what this building is.

Here are nine photos, the first of which I photoed last Tuesday, just before photoing the photo shown in that previous posting, and the other eight of which I took this afternoon:

The first, as I say, taken seconds before that previous night scene I showed earlier, shows the shape of the building, instead of just a pretty pattern. The second photo above is clearly of the same building. The third shows the same building, but with some context, in particular showing where it is in relation to the big arched edifice of offices over Charing Cross Station.

At which point I knew where to go looking, and I soon got right next to the Thing. Photo 4 makes it clear that this is that same building, while photo 5 clarifies that at the foot of it is to be found the Theodore Bullfrog. I took a note (photo 6) of exactly where I was.

But, there seemed to be no very welcoming entrance to the building I was trying to find out about. So I went around to the front of it, which seemed to be in the Strand. Photo 7 and photo 8, are close-ups of the entrance I found. And photo 9 shows the entire building from a bit of distance, from the other side to my earlier photos.

Photo 8 was of a sign saying … “40 Strand”, was it?

A little photo-enhancement …:

… confirmed that yes, this was 40 Strand. But was 40 Strand and the building we saw from the other side one and the same building?

Google Maps gave me the answer to that when I got home:

Yes. 40 Strand is the whole thing, including the bits at the back that I had been photoing so attentively. The presence of the little red balloon in the middle of the building, right next to the more distant of the windows I had been photoing proved that this was job done.

So now you know. More to the point, now Alastair knows. I don’t get many regular commenters here, so the ones I do have get the Rolls Royce treatment. (When I feel like it, I mean. I promise nothing.)


ISIBAISIA stands for “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. As I get older, I find myself wanting to use this phrase more and more, hence my need for an acronym. Which, I note, other persons are already using also.

Anyway, the latest thing that I’ve said before and now find myself in the process of saying again (while linking back to the first version) is something which you will encounter if you scroll down in among this, at Samizdata, namely this:

Recently there was a comment thread here about modern art, about how ghastly it is, how badly it bodes for Western Civilisation, etc. etc. But I believe that to be as pessimistic about the future of the West as some of those pessimistic commenters were, merely because of a lot of stupid abstract paintings, is to fall into the trap of regarding artists in the way they like to regard themselves, as a vanguard of civilisation (an “avant guarde”), rather than as mostly a rearguard. You simply cannot understand Modern Art without appreciating that it takes place in a technological space first developed by, and then abandoned by, the industry of making pictorial likenesses. Abstract art is, in many ways, a rationalisation of the fact that likenesses are now no longer demanded, on the scale of former times, from “artists”. It is primitive picture making, done in a part of town that used to be very grand but is now either stuck in genteel poverty, or in the other kind of poverty: a slum.

Old school art was a business as well as an “art”. …

Painting used to do likenesses. And the new point I am in the middle of making, in the next posting here, is that painting used to do beauty. But photography is now doing beauty also. (Expect a beautiful photo-illustration.) So painting has retreated out of that too. Art doesn’t “advance”. It merely ducks, weaves and accumulates, piggy-backing on technologies developed by more business-like businesses.

Laughing at the plague


Last night on our live stream we made some jokes about the Corona Virus. Now some people are upset.

We would like to apologise sincerely to anyone who might have been given the impression by our comments that we care in any way about you being offended. We don’t. Have a nice day

I am offended by the lack of a full stop at the end of that. I think it was this:

The Corona Virus is so toxic it’s probably a Straight White Male.

This is a podcast, and now they are talking about tattoos, like they are both Theodore Dalrymple. They sound like two old geeezers. But they are young. Oh, now they just made a crack about someone designing a virus that only wipes out old people. That’s me told. I am offended.

Corona says:

Everyone stop fucking asking us about the virus.

Says commenter Alan:

It’s okay, they’re rebranding:

I find all this very, very offensive. And quite funny.

As I recall Dame Edna Everage once upon a time saying:

I’ve always had the ability to laugh at the misfortunes of others.

Haven’t we all. No question mark there, because it’s not a question.

Mystery lake in the south of France

I spent my day doing domestic chores, and my blogging time, such as it was, going through all the photos I photoed in France, copying many of them into separate directories by subject matter. Motor bikes, Christmas decorations, roof clutter, health and safety signs, that kind of thing. I’m still wondering how and what to show here, so in the meantime, here is the very first thing in France that I photoed:

I am one of those very infrequent flyers for whom the view out of an airplane window is still rather magical, even out of a manky old Ryanair window. But the weather for my journeys from Stansted to Carcassonne and back was cloudy. I saw very little, and photoed almost nothing.

But I did photo the above lake, somewhere north-ish of Carcassonne, seven minutes before we landed there. However, my best Google maps efforts did not manage to locate this distinctively shaped stretch of water.

There is one commenter here in particular (happy new year Alastair), who says he finds it hard to resist trying to identify things I photo, which I myself cannot identify. Maybe he can help.