Sniffer dogs and beavers – both doing well

Friday, so: animals. Obviously, I noticed this story about dogs with the superpower ability to smell prostate cancer in a blood sample a lot sooner than prostate cancer tends to be noticed now.

However, I especially liked this other story – well, a tweet – about beavers, which was accompanied by a map of Europe:

Many who first glance at this beaver map are sad and angry. Look how the beavers have declined. They used to be all over the place, but are now clinging on in just a few redoubts. Woe. Humanity, bow your heads in shame at yet another crime against nature.

But no. Look at the colour/date info on the left, and you see that the small dark brown bits were where the beavers were to be found in 1900, while the light brown expanses show where they were living more than a century later, in other words now.

From this recent Guardian report, we learn that beavers are now doing well here in the UK, despite the paucity of British beaver activity to be seen on the above map.

The popular rodent, whose dams have been shown to boost hundreds of species of insects, amphibians, birds, fish and plants, is returning to Dorset, Derbyshire, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, Nottinghamshire and Montgomeryshire.

Last year the government allowed free-living beavers unofficially let loose into the River Otter in Devon to remain there, but all licensed releases into the wild in England and Wales are into large enclosed areas. There are, however, other unofficial beaver populations living freely on some river systems.

“Unofficial beaver populations”? I never knew that was a real thing. Makes it sound like the beavers have to apply for planning permission before they can construct a dam.

However, the key words in the above quote are, I think, the ones about this “popular rodent”. Had beavers not be so liked by humans, would they have done so well? I doubt it.

Like the man from the Wildlife Trusts says:

“… people love seeing them and their presence boosts tourism in the countryside.”

The earth is rapidly becoming a great big zoo, and whether there are lots of specimens of this or that creature is going to depend on how “popular” each creature is, with us.

And, as I have been saying here for some while, this trend will greatly accelerate once synthetic food starts to make its presence felt, and the whole raising-animals-to-eat epoch starts to wind down.

Photoers in July 2006 – because I just like them

At first the only one I was going to stick up here was photo number 15, the one with the bloke holding his glasses in his mouth, because I just liked it. But then, I thought, some of these others are not too bad as well, and one photo led to another … and:

All photoed by me in the space of less than one hour, outside Westminster Abbey.

I love the old little cameras, now all gobbled up by the Mighty Mobile. But most of all I love how much fun we were all having, them photoing and me photoing them photoing.

Also: lots of maps. Also now swallowed up by the Mighty Mobile.

Marine v Spurs

I think, on balance, that I did want Spurs to win, but it would have been fun if they hadn’t. Biggest gap in League places in the FA Cup ever, apparently.

There was a burst of four Spurs goals in the first half, but Marine kept it to five, presumably because, the game having been won, Spurs sent on lots of children, one of whom actually scored their one second half goal.

But what fun it would have been if Marine had actually managed to score a goal. To satisfy me, they would have had to score four goals.

Deprived of such enjoyments, I had to get my fun from the geography of the ground where this game was played:

Yes, houses and their gardens, right next to the touchline, which meant that some of the TV pictures looked like this:

That’s a party in one of the gardens, watching the game through a see-through fence and revelling in the attention of the cameras.

Where is “Marine” exactly. (Another oddity is that it seems to be only football club of any significance not to have a place in its name.) It seems to be in a relatively posh place, name of Crosby, somewhere north of Liverpool. Apparently quite a few football high achievers and managers live around there. I think the ground they played this game was this.

A roundabout under the sea

Joining up three bits of the Faroe Islands, with a roundabout instead of a triangle of separate tunnels:

It’s the red bit in this map. The yellow bits are still to come. There are a lot of yellow bits, to come. I did not know anything about these tunnels. Blog and learn.

One for the “You Are Here” collection

Nowadays, cameras can tell you exactly where you were when you took a photo, as well as exactly when you took it. But I can’t be doing with all that. I prefer taking photos like this one as I do my out-and-abouting, that say, as this one does, “You Are Here”:

And that one says it in French. Excellent.

We’re in the Pompidou Centre in Paris, in the bitterly cold February of 2012. Even remembering how cold that visit was makes me shudder now. But the Pompidou Centre itself was warm enough, and the views in it and from it were most diverting.

I have quite a few Paris postings here now, but have yet to transfer any of the postings from the old blog that I did about that earlier 2012 trip . My favourite, from a more recent and much warmer visit, featured my all time favourite food photo.

On how all new building on a large scale tends to start out looking meaningless

Here are some photos I took in and around City Island in 2017, while it was in the process of being constructed:

As you can see, there are maps and images as well as photos of the finished objects, to tell you what this place was going to be like. And cranes.

City Island is a particularly perfect illustration of what Modernist Architecture has now become, and as I have said here before, I quite like it. I especially like how City Island has what amounts to a moat around it, which gives it the appearance of a micro-Manhattan.

I entirely understand why Ancientists think that Ancientist architecture should also be allowed, and I’d also quite like to see more of that. But I suspect that if there were more of that, even the protagonists of such buildings would find themselves being somewhat disappointed, both in how others react and in how they find themselves feeling about what they were in theory so keen on seeing.

The basic aesthetic problem that new building of the sort we see on City Island is the sheer amount of it that is liable to be happening at any given moment. If lots of buildings are required, all for some similar purpose, then whatever gets built is liable to start out looking and feeling rather meaningless. And that emphatically will apply, I believe, if a mass of fake-Ancient buildings is what happens. That is awfully liable, at least to begin with, to look all fake and no Ancient. To look, in short, meaningless. So, why fight it? Why not build what makes economic sense, in a style that is rather bland, but efficient and reasonably smart looking, and be done with it?

What gives meaning to buildings is not just the way they look when they first appear; it is the life and the work that subsequently get lived and done in them. Because of those things, buildings acquire a particular character, and people start to have positive feelings about those buildings, provided of course the life and work they associate with the buildings is something they also have a positive feeling about.

If people hate what happens in new buildings, they’ll hate the buildings and yearn to see them destroyed, no matter what style they were built in.

Wooden maps of the world’s cities

So I did rootle through the latest stuff at This Is Why I’m Broke, and came upon these rather classy looking carved wooden maps of cities:

The one on the left is London, and sadly, nobody told them that London has been doing a lot of expanding lately, in general, and in particular out eastwards. I’d have preferred wider coverage, including such things as the Thames Barrier. Not that it matters to me, because CDs and books mean I have no wall space at all for such things.

The one on the right is Brisbane. I include this map because the river that runs through Brisbane and which presumably provoked that city’s creation, is positively Parisian in its convolutedness. Apparently, this Brisbane river is called the Brisbane River. I did not know any of this.

The top bit of Alderney looks like a conductor

Yes. Did you know, that the top bit of Alderney, the northern most Channel Island, looks like a conductor. With a baton.

Photo on the right there, photoed by me from the plane back to London from Brittany, in July 2007. Now suitably rotated and cropped.

It would seem that a lot of people don’t know that. I can find no other references to this on the Internet, but cannot believe that I am the only one to have noticed this important musico-geographical fact.

Did you also know that the French for a conductor’s baton is “baguette”? That may be quite wrong, but I do recall hearing this somewhere, from someone. And it would seem that there may be some truth in this notion.

Police horses

Friday is my day of the week for creatures of all sorts, and today BMNB has already featured a butterfly and a bee. But now, four horses, spied and photoed by me, near my home, on my way home from shopping, this very afternoon:

The first two. brown and black, were past me before I could get my camera out from under my shopping, so I only got them from behind. But the second two, black and white, I saw coming from a distance, so I got a better photo of them. But then, another photo of the rear end of the white horse seemed in order, because the colouring of this horse was so pleasing. I seem to recall, as a kid, being told that white horses are called “grays”. This photo perhaps explains why that might be. White horses of a particular sort have a natural tendency to turn gray, in parts. Is that it? Could well be.

These were Police horses, of course, them being the only sorts of horses to be seen around London SW1. Police horses need to live near where these demos are liable to happen, but in between demos they need exercise. They can’t just be stored in a shed, like guns or truncheons or complicated cars. And, around where I live is the perfect spot for this exercise. It’s an area bounded by busy roads with names you’ve heard of, like Victoria Street, Horseferry Road, and by the River Thames. But in between these roads, nobody goes, because this place is not on the way to anywhere else. So, perfect for SW1 Police horses to stroll through without any nasty surprises or causing any traffic complications with their slow pace of movement and their preference for walking next to each other.

West Taiwan

Of this, which seems to be an adaptation of this …:

Glenn Reynolds says:

I almost wish Trump would tweet this out …

For me, there’s no “almost” about it.