A giant pink flamingo now presides over London

On the same photo-walk that I photoed the Red Lion (see immediately belw) I also came upon this:

And I got a hell of a shock, I can tell you. I am fond of graphic representations of London’s ever more entertaining skyline, so I took a close look at this piece of graphic fun and games. But but but!!! had they suddenly constructed a giant flamingo in the middle of London which I hadn’t heard about until now?!?

Turned out the Wheel is now the last minute dot com “London Eye”, and the pink flamingo is something to do with last minute dot com and the fact it helps you book hotels in foreign parts. At the last minute, presumably.

A giant flamingo might be quite a good idea. How about somewhere out east, beyond the Thames Barrier? That part of London could use a bit of livening up, with a giant tourist trap. Ideally, you could go up its vertical leg in a lift. Then stop off at a restaurant in the middle. Then climb up its neck on a staircase, from which you could view the estuary, and central London.

The South Bank (red) Lion

There has been lots of photo-reminiscing here lately, so here are some photos I took much more recently. Well, in May of this year anyway:

Yes, it’s the lion at the South Bank end of Westminster Bridge.

This South Bank Lion has quite a history, the strangest thing being that it used to be red. I was going to show you the “photo” of the lion when it was red that I found
here
, until I realised it was faked with Photoshop. But that link is worth following.

The lion hasn’t always perched on the bridge. His first home was on top of the Lion Brewery, a booze factory once based on a site now occupied by the Royal Festival Hall.

I bet the brewery would have made a better concert hall than the accursed RFH.

This photo, on the other hand, of the lion with men and scaffolding is genuine:

The photograph above was kindly shared by Nick Redman of London Photos, whose grandfather (second on the left) was one of the scaffolders who helped move the lion from the soon-to-be-demolished brewery.

I found that here. Also well worth clicking on.

I assume this must be why so many pubs are called “The Red Lion”.

Apparently Emile Zola was very fond of this lion. Blog and learn.

Cat in Istanbul shop window

As not promised (see below), here’s a rather charming photo that Michael Jennings took in Istanbul last December, of a shop window:

Not just signs, but the place where they’re done from. And a cat. I recall Michael writing, somewhere, somewhen, that there are many cats in Istanbul and that they are very well respected by the humans of that city.

You can always tell how well cats are treated in this or that place that you visit, by how sociably they behave towards you. When cats hide from you, that’s a sign of a nasty neighbourhood, I think.

SpaceX building fewer rockets

Most of the news today seems to be particular bad. But not this:

SpaceX has gotten good enough at reuse that it’s building fewer rockets.

Space travel is finally getting back to being as fun to follow as it was when they did moon landings. The big difference this time round is that then, money was no object. Now, money very much is an object. Huge improvement.

John Duffin painting on Blackfriars Bridge ten years ago

Ten years plus a few days ago, I was checking out the work that was beginning to be done making the new BlackFriars Bridge railway station. And today, I checked out the resulting photos, Here are six of them:

Photo 2: Sampson House and Ludgate House, again. Photo 4: The Shard, just getting started. Soon after those photos, I photoed that black bus.

It was a somewhat gloomy day, and my camera wasn’t as good as what I have now, so I was glad to come across a couple of photos of a painting. And because I took such a good note of the painting, in the form of a photo of the painting and of its title and creator – memo to self: always do this – I was able quickly to track down a better digital version of the painting:

Reminds me of this photo of mine, but it’s far less of a muddle.

John Duffin, it would appear, sees London in the same way I do and, I’m guessing, the way lots of others do. He pays attention to landmark buildings, and all those bridges of course, and kind of recedes everything else more into the background. Cameras don’t discriminate. You have to point them at particular things if you want them to emphasise those things. Otherwise, to emphasise this or that, you have to do bullshit graphics manipulation. Or if you can’t or won’t do that (that would be me), write an essay.

I thought: does John Duffin have a website? Of course he does.

Here are a couple more Duffins:

On the left, many more London bridges, from the Albert (I think) Bridge in the foreground, all the way to Tower Bridge. And on the right, oh look, that’s Lord’s cricket ground. Nice player shadows.

I love how, with a camera, and provided you photoed notes as well as photos, you can pick up where you left off a decade ago.

Bulgarian Parliament adopts rules on electric scooter use

Here. The fact that the Parliament of a Brand-X Eastern European nation reckons it worth spending its time wondering how to regulate e-scooters tells you something about the spread of e-scooters just now. And that something is: E-scooters are spreading just now.

The e-scooter has already been designed. It looks like this. No need for any more clever variations, which actually aren’t. The standard design just needs a year or two of incremental improvement, and a thinning out of all the losers so that choosing one gets easy for normal people.

Skateboards with one big fat wheel will never catch on

Photoed by me, next to the River, earlier this month:

Here is another Micklethwait’s Law to offer to the world, in the process of being perfected. It goes roughly thus: No form of transport which makes you want to put on knee-cap protectors will ever catch on with regular people.

I am now seeing at least two e-scooter users every time I go out my front door, and I do mean every time. I now never don’t see e-scooters speeding by. My point here is that these people typically do not wear knee-cap protectors. These are regular people who feel very safe on their e-scooters. Will this change?

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?

3D printing isn’t the only game in town

Incoming from Rob:

Hi Brian,

I saw this and thought of you:
https://www.xometry.com/

3D printing isn’t the only game in town. This web site seems to make it easier to get access to milling machines. Upload your CAD file and get an instant quote. I’m not sure how expensive it is for one-off jobs but I can imagine it getting cheaper and easier over time.

“This” being a network of enterprises which, between them, can offer: CNC machining, sheet metal fabrication, plastic 3D printing, metal 3D printing, urethane casting, and injection molding.

The point being that additive manufacturing, aka 3D printing, is not the only way to make something. There’s also all these other ways, such as CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machining, that being subtractive manufacturing.

3D printing is not “disruptive”. It is an addition to the repertoire of traditional manufacturers. It offers manufacturers another way to do some of the things they already do, and a few other things they don’t now do.

Anyone can 3D print just about anything, just about anywhere. But just because you can, that doesn’t mean it makes a blind bit of sense for you to actually do this. What if someone else can do it, far better, far cheaper, in some other place, some other way, maybe in a much more trad, tried-and-tested way?

This website puts you in touch with who all those other people might be. As Rob says, It makes manufacturing that little bit easier and quicker to arrange, and over time, ever more so.

New River walk with GodDaughter1 from Bounds Green to Enfield

On April 2nd 2016, GodDaughter1 and I went on a photo-expedition along the New River. It was most enjoyable, and I prepared another of those big photo-clutches that I could seldom bother to do on the Old Blog, so that you can now, if you feel like it, click-click-click through them on this New Blog. But I also wanted to link back to an earlier posting I did about a rather exotic looking duck that we had encountered that same day.

For reasons explained in this posting, all postings on the Old Blog linked back to from this blog have to have been transferred to the New Blog. So, here I am linking back to What sort of duck is this?

But, problem. That posting itself linked back to a posting about Trees pruned into strange sculptures, because GD1 and I encountered a really strange piece of tree surgery (photo (6.2), on that same expedition.

Which, in its turn linked back to Losing the leaves in Victoria Park, because, well, because it did. So that had to be transferred across too.

When I put it like that, it all seems pretty simple. But following the link chain backwards and then forwards again, opening up each posting about four times over, was the Grandma of all muddles that I had not seen coming, and muddles you do not see coming can get really muddled.

Anyway, it’s all sorted now, and here are all those photos I mentioned, at the top of this:

My favourite is the plate-shaped foliage that has been emptied upside down into the water (photo 28 (4.4)).

There’s lots more I could say about all these photos, but this posting has already gone on far too long, and I confine myself now to saying: See also the plaque about Sir Hugh Myddelton (photo 37 (5.5)), who designed the New River. Designed? You don’t design rivers. They’re just there. But yes, he designed it. The point being it was designed and built, to supply London with fresh water, right at the beginning of the seventeenth century. So, at a time when so many stupid things were in the process of happening, something truly creative also happened.

Well, one other thing: the occasional interpolation of extreme urbanness (e.g. a newspaper headline about Ronnie Corbett (photo 27 (4.3)) and the van covered in stickers (photo 21 (3.5)) is because when you walk along beside the New River, it sometimes dives underground and you have to go up to regular London, until you get to the next bit.