Food and drink on wheels

Along the South Bank late yesterday afternoon. I photoed, among other things, food and drink emporia, mostly of the motorised or at least transportable sort:

My favourite by some distance is the one selling CLIMATE POSITIVE BURGERS.

Capitalism, eh? It gives you whatever you want.

Goats in Llandudno

When the humans stay indoors, the goats are emboldened:

My favourite (photo 15 (and their favourite because they also put it at the top)) of these lockdown photos.

See also, a raccoon in Central Park (photo 2), with Big New York Things in the background.

And: fallow deer in East London (photo 7). I hope they aren’t playing a ball game.

Splashdown for SpaceX

John Stossel:

2 Americans just landed safely after spending 2 months in space.

11 years ago, an Obama committee concluded that would take 12 years and cost $26 billion. Elon Musk did it in 6 years– for less than $1 billion.

Private competition is always better.

On the other hand, says the LA Times:

Elon Musk’s growing empire is fueled by $4.9 billion in government subsidies

Los Angeles entrepreneur Elon Musk has built a multibillion-dollar fortune running companies that make electric cars, sell solar panels and launch rockets into space.

And he’s built those companies with the help of billions in government subsidies.

Tesla Motors Inc., SolarCity Corp. and Space Exploration Technologies Corp., known as SpaceX, together have benefited from an estimated $4.9 billion in government support, according to data compiled by The Times. The figure underscores a common theme running through his emerging empire: a public-private financing model underpinning long-shot start-ups.

“He definitely goes where there is government money,” said Dan Dolev, an analyst at Jefferies Equity Research. “That’s a great strategy, but the government will cut you off one day.”

Like the government is liable to cut Boeing off. Because now, it can.

I’m guessing Musk reckons he could find other customers, if the government stopped paying. But I’m guessing further that a chunk of all that money goes to schmoozing the government to keep on paying. In a decade or two, Musk could be no better than Boeing.

This is “privatisation”, and privatisation isn’t the same as a real market, hence the sneer quotes. Private competition is always better. So are lots of customers spending their own money, instead of just the one, getting its money at gunpoint. Let’s hope that in this case it will turn out to be a step in the right direction. As big as it now feels.

Quite a lot of links to Steve Stewart-Willams creature tweets

Steve Stewart-Williams does great tweets, and his animal tweets are especially appealing. If you just want cute, there’s plenty of that. But if you want to tell yourself that you are also learning some science, he often lets you do that too.

So, here are links to a big clutch of recent SS-W creature tweets, starting with how ape brains compare to the human brain, what with humans being apes of the particular sort that understand the universe.

Apes a like humans in all sorts of ways. Young chimps laugh when being tickled. Gorillas trying to keep dry behave just like humans trying to keep dry. Another chimp fact: underneath all that fur they are ripped, in the manner of some humans.

The Portuguese man o’ war is not even in a single creature. Each one is a colony of creatures. Also weird is this gender fluid stag beetle.

Humans and other apes play, but so do other creatures. Here is a dog playing on a slide. But is this dog playing on the slide merely to oblige its human? Could be. So, how about this crow playing on a seesaw? Crows don’t care about obliging humans. Do they? Maybe some crows do.

More bird tweets. Here is a silly bird, pecking at the flowers on a lady’s dress. Here are peacocks. You often see pictures of peacocks showing off to peahens. Less common are photos of peacocks fighting each other. Follow that link for both. And click on this next link to see a bird’s nest woven into a leaf.

From birds to a gecko. Here’s a gecko trapped in amber, 54 millions years ago.

A feline tweets now. From this one, about cats negotiating obstacle courses, I actually learned something. When cats walk, their back legs go exactly where they front legs have just been. So, if they choose where to put their front legs carefully, then that obstacle course is successfully negotiated.

And here is another feline tweet, concerning how a a kitten turns into a cat. That kittens turn into cats I already knew. Hard to pass that off as science.

Tarantulas can swim. I didn’t know that, so that is science. Also, the laws of physics don’t apply to goats, which must be science because physics.

And finally, back to a human, in this case Sitting Bull. He makes the cut because Sitting Bull was human, but bulls are creatures. Someone has done a picture of Sitting Bull with dice.

I hope you have been having a nice Friday.

Prague should build this shipwreck!

What do you reckon on this?:

It’s a big Shipwreck Thing that some people are trying to build in Prague. My first reaction, when I first set eyes on the above fake photo last night, was horror. But now that I have had time to live with this notion, I find myself quite liking it, in fact liking it a lot. It’s supposedly something to do with the havoc that climate change will unleash upon the world, in the form of vertical ships getting wrecked up against big city Things. But despite all that hysterical nonsense, I now very much like the idea of this particular, as yet only fantasised, Thing.

I’ve actually been to Prague a couple of times, and Prague, architecturally, has a problem, which is that its centre is not so much a city centre, more like an outdoor museum. It’s wall-to-wall Architectural History. Try to add so much as a tiny office extension and you are violating History itself.

World War 2 bombing and Communism have in common that, in addition to killing lots of innocent people, they often either totally flattened great swathes of historic architecture, or they left great swathes of historic architecture totally unscathed. Maybe a bit the worse for wear, drab, falling apart, seriously in need of a torrent of paint. But basically, some ancient European architectural wonderlands have managed to survive these twin scourges of mid-twentieth century Europe utterly unscathed. World War 2 bombing flattened the cities of Germany, and scattered destruction upon London, especially in the vicinity of the London docks. But it never laid a finger on Paris. Or, Prague. And although Communism did terrible things to all the poor bastards trying to live in Prague, Communism left the mere buildings of Prague untouched, as if in a time warp. Just because Communism wrecks the economy, it can sometimes then unleash zero in the way of economic development, which translated into architecture means: Nothing. Nothing built. Nothing destroyed to make way for anything built, because nothing is built. Weird but true. Hence: The centre of the City of Prague.

Or some cretin like Ceausescu would send in the bulldozers and destroy the place completely. But, with Communism, those are the chances you take.

But, as I say, the buildings in the middle of Prague survived the twentieth century totally. but meanwhile, the architectural outskirts of Prague got done over by Communism at its crassest. Concrete block after concrete block. You could be anywhere, and wherever you were, although it may have been your home and therefore nice for other reasons, but looked at in an unbiased way it was bloody horrible. I’m guessing it is still pretty dreary.

So, what’s to be done, in a place like Prague, short of someone hiring a gang of terrorists to scatter quite a few bombs around the place but not too many? Well, a logical answer is to leave the centre of Prague untouched, obviously, but also to do some very extreme architectural Things in the boring Communist hinterland, outside the centre. (Like La Défense in Paris, only more so.) And that would appear to be the idea of this scheme. Will many people consider it extremely ugly? Undoubtedly. But all must now agree that what would have happened instead would merely have been extremely boring.

“The project under preparation will be outside the protected zone of the urban conservation area and outside the area prohibiting high-rise buildings,” explained Trigema.

“At the same time, it is located far enough away from the Prague, so that it will not be visible from the vast majority of places in the centre of the metropolis and will not disturb the historical city skyline.”

There you go. I am totally for it. The fact that it is so totally bonkers is all part of why I am so totally for it. If anything, it sounds like it may be disappointingly far from the centre of the City, but it’s a good start.

At first, I thought they were going to erect a real shipwreck. But actually, if they do build it, the actual shipwreck bit will be a cunningly post-modernistical sculpture that merely looks like a shipwreck and which will actually be tremendous fun for tourists to wander about in and photo. Call it the Bilbao effect. Remember, when Frank Gehry first proposed that amazing Bilbao Thing, nobody had ever done anything like this before. The horror of typical first reactions was all part of why it became such a huge success.

So I say to Prague: Build this shipwreck!

I especially like how they want greenery to grow up from the top of the boring bit below, in and among the shipwreck. Nice touch.

Another dirty vapour trail

Yes, on a mostly sunny day in May 2015, to add to an earlier one:

And actually, although rather fainter, there’s another one behind the big and obvious one.

What this photo also shows is how this phenomenon happens. Basically, there’s a big band of cloud that stops the horizontal evening sun lighting up the vapour trail, but the cloud leaves the sky behind the vapour trail still lit up. So, the vapour trail is turned into a silhouette. These circumstances are not common, which is why dirty vapour trails aren’t either.

If vapour trails always looked this this, air travel would have been a lot more unpopular and a lot more expensive.

Also, mmmm, cranes.

Another pair of Egyptian geese

Blogging as I just was about romantically linked birds, I recently transferred a posting about a couple of geese, which I did on Christmas Eve 2014, from the old blog to this blog, which was a big improvement because this posting featured thirty three photos of the happy couple, and viewing them is now a whole lot quicker and easier than it was.

Here is the photo number one of that clutch of thirty three …:

… and I really recommend you check out the other thirty two.

On Tuesday afternoon, at my end of Vauxhall Bridge, on the left as I approach it, I checked out the very same spot where I had photoed all these highly recommendable photos. Perhaps I thought I would meeting the original objects of my photography back in 2014, again. And rather to my surprise, I did encounter a couple of geese who looked very like the two I had originally photoed:

Sadly, I fear that “looked very like” is as far as it went. I had hoped I might have spied again the original couple, but this I now greatly doubt. There are now many of these geese in London and they breed fast.

I know this because I finally managed to identify what brand of bird these four birds all are. I googled “brown eyed goose”, and everything became clear. They are Egyptian geese. That’s a link to a Guardian piece about these geese. The Guardian loves them because the warmer weather we’ve been having lately has enabled them to flourish here. The Guardian loves warmer weather. Warmer weather, to the Guardian means that the world ought to have done to it permanently what the Coronavirus is only doing to it temporarily.

Ferrari sighting

While out-and-about on other business further in the middle of London even than my home is, I photoed this little Thing On Wheels:

This was in Bedford Street (as you can just about make out), which is just off the Strand. So far so ordinary. Some brand of “smart” car, presumably.

But when I got home, I looked more closely at this photo, and could just about make out … this:

I didn’t see this logo at the time. I merely noticed it in the original photo, of which the above is a crop-and-expand.

Unless I was mistaken, the Ferrari logo!. The Ferrari horse. Was this bod taking the piss? Had he stuck this Ferrari horse logo on his little red Dinky Toy for some sort of laugh?

This is the twenty first century, and questions like this can be quickly answered.

Apparently this was indeed a Ferrari Smart Car. (He’s not happy about this either.) Different Smart Car, Ferrari logo in the exact same spot. The cars must have come with this logo attached, and must accordingly be “real” Ferraris. Not real Ferraris, you understand. Real Ferraris can drive under articulated lorry trailers at 200 mph. What I saw and photoed was just a Dinky Toy car perpetrated by the Ferrari company in what must have been a quite prolonged fit of insanity, which I presume still continues. Talk about pissing all over your own brand.

Like I say, I like real Ferraris, which I suppose we must now call Ferrari Dumb Cars, driven by the spoilt children of the nouveau riche. The bloke in my photo looks more like an Extinction Rebel or some such thing. i.e. the sort of person who’d be totally opposed to real Ferraris. Which he may well be.

In the course of my googling, I discovered an entire internet subculture of photo-manipulators eager to take the piss out of this abominable little contraption.

Trees and other Things

I’ve not being doing much out-and-abouting lately. But yesterday the weather looked good and I managed a photo-expedition. My odyssey was a familiar one. I walked past the Channel 4 TV headquarters building to Victoria Street, checked out the progress of The Broadway. (That seems to e its name, by the way. It’s not One Broadwy or Ten Broadway, just The Broadway.) Then I walked down Victoria Street to Westminster Abbey and Parliament Square, and then across Westminster Bridge and along the South Bank, and then back across the River to Embankment Tube and home again.

But I knew there’d be new stuff to see, or maybe old stuff that I had seen many times before but not noticed. Stuff like … trees. Here are sixteen of the photos I photoed, involving trees:

Trees look as they do, especially when uninterrupted by leaves, not because trees naturally look like that, but because a not-that-small and very full-time army of tree barbers and tree surgeons (that being the word they prefer), caused them to be so. Every twist and turn of a branch is a decision made by someone wielding a chainsaw (this time click on “Gallery”) or commanding someone wielding a chainsaw. If trees ever do grow “naturally”, that too is a string of decisions that someone made and went on making. Every tree in London is a clutch of design decisions.

And as I say, no leaves. Which means that other things were to be seen also. The Broadway, the Wheel, the Crimea statue, stuff around Parliament Square (much of it smothered in scaffolding), the Wheel from closer up, Big Ben (smothered in scaffolding), the sign outside Foyles saying “FOYLES”, a big puddle, and so forth and so on. Lovely.

Steve Stewart-Williams on how looking at other animals helps us understand why the Nurture Only view can’t be right to explain human sexual differences

The Nurture Only view being, in this case, the claim that all the differences in behaviour and attitude – with regard to such things as casual sex, attaching importance to physical sexual allure, and so on – between human males and human females are all caused by societal pressure.

Says SS-W (on page 90 of The Ape That Understood The Universe):

Arguably, though, the most persuasive argument against the Nurture Only view is that sex differences in sexual inclinations and choosiness can be found in many individuals who have no gender norms, no socialization, and little in the way of culture: that rather sizeable group, so often overlooked by psychologists, known as other animals. The differences aren’t found in all other species, but they are found in many, including most birds, mammals, and reptiles. And when we find the differences in other animals, evolution is the only reasonable explanation. Why should humans be different? It’s logically possible, of course, that the differences are products of evolution in squirrels, turkeys, and frogs, but of learning and culture in Homo sapiens. But it hardly seems likely. In other species, the differences appear when the ceiling number of offspring for males is higher than that for females. Humans meet this condition, and our species presumably evolved from earlier species that displayed the normal sex differences. As such, what the Nurture Only theory asks us to believe is that, in our lineage and ours alone, natural selection eliminated the normal sex differences, despite the fact that the selection pressure that initially created them was still operative. Why would it do that? It’s particularly perplexing given that, when we look around the world, we still find the sex differences that selection supposedly eliminated. Thus, the Nurture Only theory asks us to believe not only that selection eliminated the differences for reasons unknown, but that learning and culture then coincidentally reproduced exactly the same differences in every culture on record. This is not a compelling thesis. Cultural forces clearly influence people’s willingness to engage in casual sex, and to some extent their desire to do so as well. But the idea that culture creates these sex differences out of nothing not only clashes with the available evidence, it clashes with everything we know about how evolution works.

This comes in the middle of the chapter entitled “The SeXX/XY Animal”. Right at the beginning of this chapter, just below the subheading “An Academic Culture War”, appears this academic wisecrack:

“Everyone knows that men and women are different … except social scientists.”

Which doesn’t mean that everyone who knows that men and women are different also knows exactly what those differences consist of. And don’t consist of.

The “Other creatures” category at this blog usually means other creatures besides cats and kittens. But for this posting “Other creatures” means other creatures besides the particular creatures that are humans.