The great upward kink in the graphs of human creature comforts

My go-to guy for creature postings, which I like to do on Friday, is Steve Stewart-Williams, and he has recently tweeted about plenty of impressive creaturely behaviour. There’s this shark, jumping out of the sea. There’s this butterfly pretending to be leaves. There are fishes doing social distancing. There are lions and hyenas having a dust up, although the interesting thing to me about this is how little actual damage they seem to be doing to each other. There are donkeys, one of them a bit cleverer. And much else besides of a creature-related sort.

But honestly, the tweet that I want to pick out is the one with this graphic, which identifies one of the most important moments in all of human history:

If that graph, or another like it, is not entirely familiar to you, then it damn well should be. It pinpoints the moment when our own species started seriously looking after its own creature comforts. This was, you might say, the moment when most of us stopped being treated no better than farm animals, and we began turning ourselves into each others’ pets.

Patrick Crozier and I will be speaking about this amazing moment in the history of the human animal in our next recorded conversation. That will, if the conversation happens as we hope and the recording works as we hope, find its way to here.

Some more creature tweets

A scary tweet:

The other thing I found out was that the female monarch butterfly has an array of chitinous teeth inside her ‘vagina’ …

Chitinous? Excuse me while I google that. Here we go.

A nitrogen-containing polysaccharide that is a tough, protective, semitransparent substance and is the principal component of arthropod exoskeletons and the cell walls of certain fungi.

A tweet about how They solved a life-threatening problem for this glorious pelican.

A scornful tweet, about how the brother of a lion was also a lion. Or so CNN claimed.

A tweet about a beautiful, very long but only two-door, charger. Which is a creature.

A tweet about Mama monkey making funny faces at baby.

A tweet about what someone joining in the tweeting called a beautiful bird, which means I can include it in this list. What it really is is a huge nuclear bomber airplane called the Convair B-36, which had both propellers and jets to drive it along. It reminds me of those big old sailing ships that also had coal-powered engines:

Anyone know where that photo was taken? It should be recognisable, if you recognise it I mean.

Are you bored with all these creatures tweets? Well then, here, especially for you, is a tweet about a snake yawning.

Taxi with sealant and construction adhesive advert

I continue to keep an eye out for taxis with adverts. But, taxis are a lot less busy at present, because of You Know What, and their adverts now reach far fewer people.

But, the above observations may be because I, although not myself overwhelmingly affluent, live in a rather affluent part of London. The rich are getting out a lot less these days. But in less posh parts of town, life is much more like normal because it damn well has to be, aside from all the face masks. Taxis are busier, and adverts on them count for more, than either now do in central London.

So it was that I recently spotted this fine example of the species, outside Finsbury Park Tube:

One of the trends in advertising nowadays is that, because people can now easily do no-extra-cost photoing of adverts and read them at their leisure, it therefore makes sense for at least some adverts to be far wordier and more information-packed. There is a definite whiff of that about this advert, I think.

Watch the video here. “The snag list eliminator is here to stay.”

The adverts to which Google will now subject me are about to get very weird.

On Ex-Muslims and on the lack of social media omnipotence

Over the course of the last few days, Facebook suppressed Ex-Muslim TV but has now allowed it back on air again.

Which provides me with a perfect excuse to write some topical commentary on the subject of Ex-Muslims, and on social media and the allegedly dictatorial powers of the social media. I have a hook. XMTV got suppressed, and then unsuppressed. By social media. Over the last few days. I can now have “Current events” in my category list for this posting.

My commentary on XMTV goes like this: Islam is an ideology of conquest, of the world, by Islam. Submit or die. Islamic terrorists interpret Islam correctly. “Moderate” Muslims either don’t read, or don’t listen to, what they nevertheless insist on going through the motions of saying they do believe. Or they’re just lying, to us and to themselves.

Those who react to the above truths with a shudder, often come back with the claim that, well, yes, that may be true, but this is not a nice thing to say. Yes, Islam does indeed need to “reform”, but if you describe Islam too accurately, that will only arouse opposition from angry Muslims, and they’ll dig in their heals and refuse to make Islam any nicer.

I, on the other hand, think that if any “reform” of this transformative sort ever materialises, it is now decades away from happening. In the meantime, if and when such “reform” (actually a radical rewrite) ever happens, the reason why it will happen will be that millions upon millions of Muslims are publicly abandoning Islam altogether, refusing to wait for it to stop being the nasty thing it has been since it was founded and as of now remains. Only when staring extinction in the face will Islam’s remaining adherents seriously set about remaking their beliefs to the point where they might become truly nice. Will it then be too late for Islam thus to save itself from oblivion? I don’t know and I don’t care.

So, in the meantime, I regard the transformation of Muslims into Ex-Muslims as by far the most important thing now happening to Islam, and also (because also) the best thing. Do you think of yourself as “moderate” and a Muslim. I say: Make up your mind which of these two things you want to be. Choose nicely and wisely. Choose to become an Ex-Muslim.

In the event that history carries on getting nicer, you Ex-Muslims are in the vanguard of it. Hurrah for you. That’s commentary part one of this posting.

As to the second part of the commentary I want to attach to this Facebook-versus-Ex-Muslims contretemps, well, Facebook surely could have kept the Ex-Muslims permanently off their platform, but only at the cost of a relentless drizzle of anti-Facebook anti-Islamic commentary, such as are to be read in this posting, in the paragraphs above this one and, to carefully moderated extent, in the paragraphs that follow. Worse, they might provoke a mass-migration to Parler or Gab or some such alternative. (Every time something like this Ex-Muslim thing happens, I get an email from Gab telling me all about it, and telling me to switch to Gab. One day, I just might.)

But, meanwhile, note that I found out about this news item via Twitter. Twitter, like Facebook, is anti-anti-Islamic, in the sense that this is surely the attitude of most of their two workforces. Yet, although presumably also constantly nagged by Non-Ex Muslims to scrub the Ex-Muslims from their site, Twitter did not do so, despite I am sure must have been a definite little spike of attention being paid by the world to the various Ex-Muslim tweets, denouncing Facebook, that they found themselves hosting.

The problem Twitter and Facebook both face is that they are juggling two contradictory agendas. There is the big money-spinning agenda, the one that says that people can say whatever they hell they like, much as I can say whatever I like on this blog, because it’s my blog. And then there’s the agenda that says that the social media should promote virtue and suppress vice, by allowing and drawing attention to virtuous messages and ignoring and scrubbing all the vicious ones, virtue and vice being defined in accordance with the wokist principles adhered to by, at the very least, an influential and noisy minority of their workforces. Because the wokists want wicked ideas suppressed, rather than merely argued into obscurity, these two agendas can’t both happen. And often the clash between the two generates fireworks, and more attention for particular agendas that the wokists dislike, as may have happened with this temporary interruption of Ex-Muslim TV service.

I don’t want to underplay the amount of grief that the wokists can do to any individual or organisation that they pick out from the herd and concentrate their attacks on. But killing an individual animal is not the same as wiping out the entire herd. If it were, there’d have been no Brexit, no Trump, no actually existing modern world. The Anglosphere is currently having an ideological civil war, and there’s nothing that social media can do to prevent this, not least because they themselves have constructed many of the battlefields and thus helped to make the war happen. They are now merely a part of this war, and a very ambiguous one at that. To switch metaphors from a herd to a conflagration, the social media often fan the very flames that the people who run them and who work for them are trying to extinguish.

Poetry on the South Bank

Last summer, when wandering about where those Modified Social Benches are to be found, in the vicinity of the Royal Festival Hall, I happened to look downwards and I encountered, beneath my feet, this snatch of poetry:

When, more recently, I wondered what this poetry was, I was of course quickly able to identify the entire poem, hunting quotations down, even quite obscure ones, having now become so very easy.

I am sure that the off-puttingly antiquated language that I see in this poem is at least metaphorically speaking present, for many, in the classical music that I so love to listen to. These things are all a matter of personal taste. An insuperable barrier to one potential receiver of Art is no barrier at all to another. But for me, this sort of poetry is such that I hear only those barriers, rather than what is behind those barriers.

“O Thames!” … “Bards” … “fair River! … “fair Stream! … “Thy quiet soul on all bestowing” … “Vain thought!” … “thou art” … “ditty” … “the dashing oar” … “By virtue’s holiest Powers attended”. I just can’t get past such verbiage. If you can, I’m delighted for you, but I just can’t. This is close enough to the language I know and love for me to get straight away most of what is being said, but for that very reason, the fact that I and my contemporaries just wouldn’t say it like that also cannot be got around.

And, for me, the poetic momentum acquired by poetry when it really had a public impact, when people were spoken to strongly by words and phrases like those I have picked out from this Wordsworth poem, seems to weigh down even much contemporary poetry with its antiquated habits.

It’s not just the antiquated words. The very habit of “poetic” contemplation now seems to me more a suitable object for comedy than a real way to communicate. This much repeated bit of Rik Mayall stand-up seems to me to skewer the whole idea of being a poet, now. The puns that aren’t funny and aren’t even meant to be. The knowing proclamation of banalities, or just nonsenses, in a manner that implies deep wisdom. The deep suspicion verging on outright hostility that the Poet now has towards his potential audience, knowing that we think he’s rather laughable, in a bad way. The feeling that this character is a Poet, because he’s not up to being anything else of greater impact in the world as it now is.

I repeat. If you like poetry of the sort that poets do now, great. I am trying to describe how I feel, not making any sort of argument about what you should feel. I know I’m missing out on a lot of good things because of the above.

Here is something else I encountered, earlier on the same South Bank photo-walk in which I photoed that bit of Wordsworth.

A poet:

Yep. Definitely a poet. A poet is exactly the sort of person I’d expect still to be using a typewriter, and to ply his trade without drawing anyone’s attention to a website or social media presence. This is an exercise in self-conscious anachronism and, if this chap is silly enough to take what he’s doing seriously, almost inevitable downward social mobility.

Unless of course, he’s gathering material for his stand-up comedy act. That would make sense.

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.

James Lindsay talks to and with Joe Rogan

I’ve had my morning deranged by watching and listening to this video of … well, see above. Lots of wisdom in this. Lots.

James Lindsay is a new name to me, and towards the end of this he talked about another new name to me, someone called Derek Bell. I don’t know how to spell Derek, so let’s see if I got it right.

No. Derrick Bell.

I note that the wokists are now saying that nobody really ever really gets cancelled, and I sort of agree with this. I don’t see a world in which any chosen person can be completely silenced. I see a world of unprecedented freedom of expression, but also a huge number of people who really, really do not like this, and are trying to shout down the people they don’t like. But they are not succeeding, or rather, only succeeding somewhat. If the wokists could pick their biggest enemies out and silence the lot of them, this James Lindsay guy would be literally dead now and nobody would even remember him. As it is, he gets to talk to and with Joe Rogan for three hours on end, and I get to watch it, on the other side of a quite big ocean.

As for all those lower-down-the-pundit-pecking-order people who dare not say anything because they want to keep their jobs, well, yes there are still lots of people like that. All effective people have to specialise and there are indeed lots of jobs, and always have been, where you have to keep a lot of what you think to yourself. (My Dad had to keep shtum about being an atheist, because if he hadn’t his job as a big-cheese lawyer might have stalled very badly. Me and my siblings only learned about these heretical opinions of his after he retired. (He couldn’t afford to have us even saying things about what he thought (just like dissidents and their kids in the old USSR))). But, now, you can adopt a pseudonym and say whatever the hell you like on the old www, and there’s a pretty good chance you’ll keep your job.

As this James Lindsay video illustrates, anyone who wants to dissent in the privacy of their own home, from the (actually ex-) Mainstream Media, and then vote accordingly, can easily do that. And nothing the wokists are doing can change that.

LATER: On the other hand, while freedom of expression in total has, I think, and despite all efforts to suppress this freedom, greatly increased because of the internet, on the other hand, freedom of expression for academics has decreased and is decreasing. If you want more freedom of expression and to be, or to go on being, an academic, you picked a bad time. I believe that the doctrine of academic freedom was originally devised to carve out an enclave of freedom of expression for academics, in a world where freedom of expression of the necessary level for academia to do its job was not generally available. Now, academia needs to catch up with the wider world.

Big subject, obviously.

LATER STILL: Good luck cancelling this guy.

Photoing the cricket in 1938 – and photoing it now

Cricket Monthly has a piece up about the tech that accompanies cricket, with some great historic photos of the tech of yesteryear, including this wonderful photo, from the yesteryear 1938:

I found it a bit unclear, but I think that’s not even a movie camera. It’s a still camera.

Love the Reverend, with binoculars, who looks to be slumbering.

Here is a posting I did about how they do the videoing of cricket nowadays and about how that’s still, of course, developing.

And here’s a photo I photoed in 2017, or photoers, pros and ams, photoing the Rugby v Marlborough game at Lord’s that year:

It wasn’t a big crowd, so plenty of social distancing even then.

Now that there’s a gap happening, between test match 2 (which ended Monday) and test match 3 (which kicks off Friday), between England and the Windies, I am now missing this cricket, the way I never did during full Lockdown, when there just wasn’t any.

That a manufacturer of something complicated is using 3D printing to make it is not news

I get emails from Google concerning 3D printing. These emails happen daily and each contains links to many reports of 3D printing being done by this or that enterprise.

When I first learned about 3D printing, I thought it was a revolutionary technology, one that would “disrupt” all manner of processes and technologies. This was why I told Google to send me these emails. I thought that 3D printing might soon start happening in people’s homes. Because it could, basically. But homes don’t mass produce anything, except food, and 3D printed food is ridiculous. Just for starters, potentially poisonous. It makes as much sense to have a lathe in every home, to sculpt food so that it all looks like chess pieces. Every home could do that. But why would it? A few crazy lathe-using hobbyists do have lathes in their homes. With these lathes they make a few rather pointless things that they could easily buy, far better made, for a tiny fraction of the cost and fuss of having their own lathe. The rest of us, not being crazy, refrain from “domestic lathing”.

3D printing, like using a lathe, is not disruptive. It is simply a way of making things, which was developed quite a long time ago, and which even now keeps on getting better. Recently, people like me noticed 3D printing, because 3D printing makes great videos and photos For the internet. But that didn’t make it disruptive. It just meant that 3D printing was contributing to the internet, just as it also contributes to the pharmaceutical trade and the building trade and the trade of making farm equipment. Wherever stuff is being made and then assembled, there will be 3D printing going on, as part of the process.

Now that I have understood all this, these emails from Google have become rather boring and often very silly.

Consider the headline above this non-story:

XB-1 commercial supersonic jet is real and 3D printing helped make it so

Well, yes, of course it did. Why wouldn’t it? The XB-1, as I have already noted here, is, at least potentially, one hell of a story. That they used 3D printing in the course of making it is not a story. It would only have been a story if they hadn’t.