On how we love animals (except when we love how they taste)

While in France, I read the whole of The Square and the Tower, and then embarked upon The Ape that Understood the Universe.

In the latter book, the matter of how humans get all sentimental about animals is mentioned (pp. 59-60):

… Why do so many people take such delight in string at infant members of other species? It’s not as if, say, porcupines enjoy staring at baby chickens. As with porn, our love of these nonhuman animals is probably not an adaptation. More than likely, it’s spillover from psychological mechanisms designed for more human-centered purposes. There’s a certain cluster of traits that people everywhere find irresistibly cute. This includes big round eyes in the center of the face, a small nose, and plump, stubby limbs. Our affection for creatures with these features presumably evolved to motivate us to care for our own infants and toddlers. But the same features are found in many other infant mammals, and even in the adult members of some nonhuman species. As a result, we often feel affectionate and protective toward these individuals as well – not because it’s adaptive, but just because adaptations aren’t perfect. By the way, as you might already have
noticed, the spill over hypothesis doesn’t just explain our fondness for cute animal videos. It also hints at an explanation for a much older and more pervasive phenomenon: our habit of keeping pets.

Motivated I am sure by exactly this sort of fondness for animals myself, I have become more and more intrigued by this general human propensity. Which is why so many of my photos involve non-human creatures of one sort or another.

Here are some of the non-human creatures photos I photoed while in France recently:

Even the photos involving signs urging dog owners to clear up canine crap (photos 12, 14 and 17) are about our positive feelings towards animals, because the offending dogs are pets. And even the two plastic barrier things (photo 16) are “other creatures”, in the sense that we insist on seeing the faces of creatures where there are none, even though these particular non-creatures each have only one eye. Yes, we do love these creatures.

And yet, by way of a corrective, we also do these kinds of things to particularly tasty creatures, in this case to various mammals and to fishes:

Yum.

Soleimani etc.

In connection with the death of Qasem Soleimani, Mick Hartley posts this picture [photo credit: AFP]:

Plenty of Middle Easterners are now, it seems, rejoicing.

In another posting, Hartley quotes Gerard Baker of The Times saying:

… But this wasn’t simply a case of retributive justice. This was no Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden or Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who were all essentially busted flushes when they met justice. Soleimani was the mastermind of a vast programme of slaughter, enslavement and repression that was continuing across the Middle East until the day he died. …

Meanwhile the Daily Mail offers this characteristically terse headline:

‘Death to liars!’ Iranian protesters in Tehran turn against regime and demand the Ayatollah RESIGN after country’s military admits it shot down passenger plane full of its own citizens

But no, I too had never heard of Soleimani until Trump had him killed.

4-4-0

This evening I happened upon episode 1 of Trains That Changed The World on Yesterday TV, the show which has Steve Davies in it. This was the episode I missed the first time around, so I am very happy about this.

For the first half of the show, we were in Britain, covering the Stephensons and the transformation that trains wrought, as you’d expect, upon Britain. But then we crossed the Atlantic, and learned how trains put the U in USA. Which all the talking heads, including Davies, agreed that they did.

In particular I learned about this loco:

On the left, an Old Photo of what I take to be, more or less, the original. And on the right, painted in totally implausible paints of many colours, and also photoed in full colour, a Reproduction produced in the 1970s. And looking like it’s just got the part of its lifetime in Back to the Future 3.

This is the 4-4-0, the Model T of the railroad track. The big thing I learned about the 4-4-0 (which gets its name from its wheels) is that it burns wood rather than coal, on account of America being made of trees rather than coal; and that the big bulge on its chimney is to stop solid bits of burning wood pouring out and setting fire to America. I did not know this.

Colourfully painted croissant

Today I met up with a friend, in even more central London. She had what looked like Soylent Green, in a glass. I had coffee in a similar glass, and a croissant. The croissant made me grateful, but not so much for how it tasted, more for how it looked. Which was why I photoed it before I ate it:

What I want to know is: Did they paint the pink raspberry-flavoured paint on the croissant pastry before it was rolled up into a croissant, or afterwards? I’m going with: before. But, when it comes to colourfully painted croissants, what do I know? This is the first time I ever met one.

Photo-uploading problems

For some mysterious reason, I am having problems uploading photos. Have I reached some sort of limit? One of the photos I tried to upload was a photo of a famous painting. Did WordPress recognise the famous painting, and get angry with me for some sort of copyright violation? Did I change a “setting” to something silly, that won’t work? I don’t know, but this posting is just me posting pure text, to see if that is misbehaving also.

Well that worked well enough when I pressed “Save Draft”. Let’s see if “Publish” now works. Yes it did, or it did from where I sit.

LATER: All is now well. A temporary back-up file was getting in the way and this has now been deleted, making way for such things as this:

This is what WordPress looks like, when it gets angry with you, which it enjoys doing. No. It’s “Cerberus”, by William Blake. I photoed this yesterday, at the Tate Britain William Blake Exhibition. You see a better version if you go to the Tate Britain website.

Creature stuff

First up: Otters chasing a butterfly.

Next, zebras:

One of these photos. Jordan Peterson would surely like this photo.

In case you didn’t realise, Cats bond with their people too. I’m already convinced. When GD2’s family’s cat Oscar got home after going awol, he slept for about a solid day. This says to me that he was stressed out when away from home, but not when home with his humans.

From Laughing Squid, a paper cameleon, a trampolining fox, and a raven who speaks German.

Lastly, and most depressingly: Animal painter known as ‘Galician Picasso’ found half eaten by own dogs.

Keeping up appearances with scaffolding and pictures

I don’t know exactly where this was, only approximately. It was somewhere in the vicinity of Leicester and Trafalgar Squares, these being the places where I photoed the photo just before this one and just after this one:

But I do know for sure when I photoed this photo: April 30th 2015. And I know for sure that I like it. I hope you do also.

It’s that we see both the picture they have created, because of it being mostly front lit, and the means by which the painting is suspended, because of it being partly back lit, that I particularly like.

LATER: I also greatly like this, which was photoed about an hour later:

That was then playing at the Playhouse Theatre, Northumberland Avenue. It was a musical, apparently. Blog and learn.

AAArt

I like photos that look like abstract art but which are really of something real.

To quote myself (underneath the August photo there, of London Bridge station seen from above):

I tend not to admire Modern Art. It takes itself far too seriously for my liking. But I love it when real stuff resembles Modern Art. Explain that to me, somebody?

Still working out the answer to that one.

So anyway, it would appear that these guys, agree with me. They call themselves AAA (they arrange the AAAs more aaartfully than this), which stands for Abstract Aerial Art.

Quote (from this):

Taken from a top-down perspective, every aerial photograph we take is of a real place on our planet. We like to compose our images as artworks rather than traditional photographs. Other than slight colour and contrast enhancements none of our images are manipulated in any way. As we always say, “the point is not to work out what it is, but to show how weird and wonderful the world can look from above”.

Actually, not quite my attitude. I like explanations, locations, etc. But, I still like these images.

Here are a dozen (I picked four, then nine, then twelve) that I especially liked:

Here’s the equipment the AAA guys use. Drones. Calling 6k. (The link at the top of this posting is to an earlier posting I did re another of 6k’s drone-photos.)

Yesterday in Euston Road

Yesterday I met up with a friend in Kings Cross, and afterwards, what with the victoria Line being all over the shop, I walked along the Euston Road, to places where other tube lines could be easily reached.

Here are a few of the photos I photoed:

My usual preoccupations are on show. Signs (ph4 ph5), sculpture (ph5), things that look like they could be sculpture but are not, like scaffolding (ph8) and like those strange yellow things (ph7). There’s even a photoer photo (ph3), outside St Pancras. And a taxi advert (ph2, about how you can “ID yourself”.

ANPR, I now learn, refers to Automatic Number Plate Recognition, which it would appear that motorists don’t need to have explained to them. But what are the strange yellow things? Weights to stop the fences being pulled over, is my guess.

Plus, note the surveillance camera, top left, in the last otherwise oh-so-pretty photo.

More pleasingly, I like how that glass penthouse-like (pentoffice?) addition has been added to the slightly older brick structure (ph6). The opposite of roof clutter. A lot of architecture is about adding stuff to already existing buildings these days. Which makes a nice change from smashing everything down every time, which they of course still do a lot of.

Adding stuff includes adding paint, to an already existing building (ph1). That building always amazes me whenever I see it. It’s a bank. There seems to be an architecture rule that the more flamboyant the building, the duller the institution that occupies it. Vice versa often applies too, I think.