Why black swans are always unexpected

The other day I took these pics of an amazing black swan that has appeared at Spike Island, Widnes, close to the River Mersey (the same place I took the photos in the previous blog entry). The area’s always packed with white swans but I’ve never seen a black one before. Apparently this species  breeds mainly in the southeast and southwest regions of Australia. Close to where I saw it is the Silver Jubilee Bridge between Widnes and Runcorn (see bottom pic) which looks almost identical to the Sydney Harbour Bridge in design; I wonder if the poor bird recognised it and got confused?!! Mmm… confuse Widnes with Sydney? Maybe not.

Black Swans are popular birds in zoological gardens and bird collections, and escapees are sometimes seen outside their natural range. This one definitely needs a sat nav.

“Black swan events” were introduced by Nassim Nicholas Taleb who regards almost all major scientific discoveries, historical events, and artistic accomplishments as “black swans”—undirected and unpredicted. He gives the rise of the Internet, PC, the First World War, and the September 11 attacks as examples of black swan events.

The central attribute of Taleb’s black swan event is high impact. His claim is that almost all consequential events in history come from the unexpected — yet humans later convince themselves that these events are explainable in hindsight.

Got a bit philosophical there, sorry. Anyway, this black swan looks amazing and gave me a chance to get some good pics.

This bridge is the one at Runcorn/Widnes close to where the swan is. Reminds him of home?


Giant ghosts from the Titanic stalk Liverpool streets

On Sunday we went to see amazing giant puppets visiting Liverpool. The spectacle was created by Nantes-based French company Royal de Luxe as part of Liverpool commemorations for the recent 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. It was inspired by a letter written by a young girl to her father, who was a steward on the Liverpool-registered liner. The event showed Little Girl Giant walking around Liverpool on a quest to learn news of her father. Little Girl Giant and her dog were “woken” by young musicians from Liverpool Philharmonic’s In Harmony project at the start of the event and spectators saw her uncle – clad in a deep sea diving costume – emerge from Salthouse Dock with letters from the Titanic. It was a magical event which captured the imaginations of thousands of people who flocked to Liverpool to watch. Unfortunately the thing was such a success that the thing I ended up seeing most of was the backs of people’s heads. In spite of that it’s great to see that such a wacky, arty event can attract massive audiences. Lots of people had been sneering at the amount of money it had taken to stage the thing; they were not sneering after they saw how crammed all the local restaurants, cafes, museums, pubs, shops etc were thanks to the extra people attracted into the city. This was art and it was successful, popular and profitable!

I shot the cat.

We’ve been looking after a kitten this week. I don’t usually post cutesy pictures of cats in fact those kind of pictures mostly make me want to kill myself but Tabby  (I would have picked the name ‘Alan’) has turned out to be so completely adorable that I had to get my camera out. So here are the photos. I promise I will never, ever get this cutesy again.