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Art

The Miller’s Tail…

So Maria Miller, Sec State for Culture has fallen on her sword (for I am slain iDave!) due to her diddling expenses.

What the flying fuck do we have such a position for, apart from some croney of iDave diddling expenses, obviously?

Have you been to the National Gallery (it’s free by the way – and my favourite art gallery in the World*). Did Turner need a Department of Culture to paint his piccies? Did Francis Bacon? I recently saw some of his in Amsterdam recently**. Did Tolkien need one to write Britain’s favourite books? Did Elgar? Did the Beatles? The Stones? Does Adele? Do you or me? God help us Shakespeare managed to make it without the state!

Culture is simply what we do. In a sense it is what we are. We just do it. From posting video of a cat doing something amusing on Youtube to the Elgar violin concerto we just do it. In this case “we” is Kyung-wha Chung. She is my fave fiddler ever -do listen to the rest – it’s great***. And I have a weakness for the violin concerto. And that is her with the LSO conducted by Solti. Neither are Brits but Elgar was. And in a real sense that kind of sums up “culture” for me in the sense that here we have a piece of music played by a Korean/American with the orchestra conducted by a Hungarian/mainly American with an honorary British knighthood. What I mean is Elgar has “stretch”. All true culture has. Elgar is quintessentially English and not from a rich background (at one point he was employed to conduct an orchestra in the local lunatic asylum) but that his music can reach from Seoul to Budapest to Chicago and touch people enough to play it that well says something.

I have been to a folk festival (for my sins). It was curious. Apart from getting Brahms und Liszt (it was a stag do) it struck me how parochial (and in extreme cases nationalistic – not in a good way****). True culture is in a sense beyond borders. God help me I am English but I can’t stand the Tory club Little-Englander with his G&T any more than I can stick the “shop local, think global” lot with faux tribal tattoos. I was going to get one if I’d completed my PhD – my equation. Alas for me and an inker this did not come to pass. Folk is shite anyway. But what I was really trying to say is… I once came across in Georgia (USA – not entering the Putindoom) a fellow who expressed surprise at my mere existence. He declared a desire (and he was well adult) not only to never leave the USA (for there be dragons elsewhere ) but to never leave the state of Georgia. I’d just done a 2,500 mile road trip round the SE USA. I guess I just like globalization and that Huge Furnished Shitting-Stall can get his locally-sourced onions off behind his organic arras.

Anyway, that is getting seriously off the point (if there ever was one*****). This I like. (Aside – there is a shop in central Amsterdam that sells Brit stuff called “Arkwrights”).

Yes there was. Culture. It is universal and natural. It should be allowed to just happen but it is intrinsically global (and that scares people). Now don’t get me wrong – I have nothing against “local colour” but our culture is increasingly self generating and global. That does not mean it is less diverse. Gods no! You can get decent sushi in Manchester******. If that means the Eccles cake is heading the way of the sauropods then so be it. Mind, in Porthmadog you can get excellent fish and chips (but fuck all else). And they all speak Welsh! But that is not my point. You expect good fish of whatever sort in a fishing port. And good chips anywhere (apart from Amsterdam).

Culture happens. It can be global. It can be local. It can be both. Concentrating on the local is absurd in the age of jet planes and youtube in my eyes. The more it goes global the better I think. I have God knows how many channels off my Sky dish. I can watch a Nigerian soap opera if I want – I don’t because they are piss-poor but… Why do we need a culture secretary at all? Why when we have Easyjet? Why when we have the internet? Why when within walking distance I have have Chinese, Italian,Spanish and Indian take-aways/restaurants? Why have a culture secretary?

*I’ve been to quite a few of the greats.
**See, I’m not uncultured. I could have gone to the ‘Dam and spent my time bombed out of my box sucking dope from bongs shaped like penises. I went to the maritime museum, the Jewish history museum and… Mind the food over there ain’t great. I did eat kangaroo mind (a first for me) but it was bloody awful. Having said that it might be just due to the Dutch tendency to serve Flintsonian portions and bugger the quality. And chips with everything.
***But not as great.
****Not that that was anything like that.
*****There wasn’t really.
******My brother would disagree because he’s lived for several years in Japan.

The Egg Dance

I’ve recently got back from Amsterdam. Now I suppose it is moderately unusual to collapse into giggles in the Rijksmuseum’s section on Dutch 12th-17th Century art but I managed it. This is a detail from the picture that made me laugh…

That is a detail from The Egg Dance by Pieter Aertsen.

What made me laugh though was the caption next to it…

At right, in this brothel, a young man does an egg dance to the music of a bagpiper. While dancing, he had to roll an egg within a chalk circle – without it breaking – and to cover it with a wooden bowl. This ‘pointless’ amusement, along with the dissolute behaviour of the other figures, served as a moral warning against debauchery.

Emphasis mine. I just loved the phrase “This ‘pointless’ amusement”. Sums up life really. Less, seriously though, this was painted in 1552 and I guess you had to make your own amusement back then. The Rijksmuseum does also boast a large collection of impedimenta for drinking games. An inventive (if drunken) lot those renaissance Dutch.

In fact it stuck in my mind so much that upon my return I googled (I think the term is so ubiquitous as to have lost the capital like “hoover” has) the picture. I found this.

Now one of the first things I wondered was why the Rijksmuseum was so sure it was a brothel. To me (and my wife) it just looked like a fairly chaotic party in a home…

At the back of the room an old man is playing the bagpipes. Because of its shape, the instrument often symbolised the male genitalia. In the window is a jug containing a leek, a vegetable of the onion family. A sixteenth-century viewer would immediately have realised that the scene was a room in a brothel. Onions were supposed to be a stimulant. All around lie onion flowers, leek leaves and mussels, which were supposed to have the same quality. It was also thought to be true of eggs, the theme of the painting.

OK, the bagpipes I kinda got already. That’s a bit of a classic (cf Hieronymous Bosch)…

… Or indeed this. It is amazing how, across culture, time and geography, symbolism can be both steady yet sometimes obscure like the leek. Though that might explain the perennial appeal of Sir Tom Jones (or why, as I type, the Welsh are giving the Scots a hammering at the Rugby). This evening I shall be in the peculiar situation of cheering on France). Anyway back to my point.

From the same source (I almost hit “sauce” – hmm…)…

Pieter Aertsen has given this piquant scene a moral message that appears to reflect his own moral reservations. A joker is depicted on one of the wooden boards on the table, left, and on the other a goat jumping. These are cards in a Tarot set. In the sixteenth century everyone would have understood that these symbolised drunkenness and lust. The reel above the fireplace on the right is a sign of folly: in fact ‘reeling’ is still used today to describe a person swaying or staggering from the effects of alcohol.

The Egg Dance is one of the earliest paintings of a peasant scene. The elongated form suggests it was designed to be hung above a fireplace. This kind of genre painting was popular among the burghers of the cities. The moralistic message was often an excuse to paint a piquant scene. Aertsen was also commissioned to paint large religious works for churches. However, many of these were destroyed during the Iconoclast fury.

Emphasis mine. There is something almost reassuring about the continuity of this moral hypocrisy. We see it in modern times with the Islamosphere and the idea that a normally dressed woman is a hussy. And elsewhere.

“…the American girl is well acquainted with her body’s seductive capacity. She knows it lies in the face, and in expressive eyes, and thirsty lips. She knows seductiveness lies in the round breasts, the full buttocks, and in the shapely thighs, sleek legs” and she shows all this and does not hide it.”

- Sayyid Qutb (founder of the Muslim Brotherhood who are currently sexually assaulting “inappropriately hijabed” women and girls in Egypt” describing a Methodist tea-dance in Colorado in 1950.

Qutb apparently died a virgin having failed to find a woman “pure” enough for him. It would be farcical but for the Hell that has followed in his wake.

Or what about the most sanctimonious of businesses – the Co-op and it’s “Crystal Methodist”? The Co-op sells “ethical water” (whatever that might be) and it’s ordained Methodist preacher bank boss was using crystal meth, crack cocaine, ketamine and rent boys. Oh, and the bank had a “black hole” of over GBP1.5bn.

My favouritist newspaper in all the World is of course the Daily Mail which routinely in it’s “News” section includes scare stories about the sexualization of girls and women being driven into eating disorders by being “forced” by the media into looking like models and starlets right next to the “Femail” column (how cute) which is supposed to be about women’s issues (yeah, right). It includes stuff like this all the time.

So, to tie this all together… I’m not sure how but in some sense (and there are different variations but the basic tune is always the same) “elites”* of all descriptions will always find some sort of justification to indulge in the sins they would deny the plebs or… Well, something along those lines. Qutb is an outlier but there is still the same infernal moral arrogance of “I can see this for I am pure but you can’t”. It is the same as the burghers of Amsterdam all those years ago titillating themselves whilst feeling (or pretending to feel) morally superior to the lower orders.

Apparently there are things in the dungeon of the British Library that are so vile they can only be accessed in the presence of a couple of trustees of the British Library and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

I bet Prince Philip has had a gleg…

*A term in political discourse I hate because when I was a lad “elite” meant the SAS and such. And not just gits.

Craftsman of the Century: Louis Chenot and His Duesenberg

Louis Chenot

THOUGH Louis Chenot of Carl Junction, Missouri has produced several outstanding projects over the years, his finest effort to date is his recently completed 1:6 scale 1932 Dusenberg SJ. Some say this may be the finest and most complete model automobile ever built. Correct down to the smallest detail, even the tiny straight eight, 32-valve engine runs. Due to the significance of this achievement, the Joe Martin Foundation’s Metalworking Craftsman of the Year award has been renamed ‘Metalworking Craftsman of the Decade’ this year in Lou’s honour. Lou is the 15th person to receive the annual award, which was first presented in 1997. The award includes an engraved medallion and a cheque for $2000.00 that will be presented at the North American Model Engineering Society Expo in Southgate. The public is invited to see Lou and the Duesenberg at the show April 30 – May 1, 2011.

About Louis Chenot

Lou spent his 40-year working career as a mechanical engineer, with the last ten years as Director of Engineering for Leggett & Platt Corporation Automotive Group. He has restored full-size vintage cars including a 1930 Cadillac Convertible in the 1960s that was shown on the classic car circuit for years.

[SNIP of much more information. Here are some of the photos:]

And here are sme of the photos of the project with explanations, some the same, some different, from another site:

Inside the straight eight engine are all the correct parts custom machined to scale from steel, cast iron and aluminum. Here we see the block and crankshaft at the top. Arrayed below the block are the cast iron cylinder sleeves, pistons, wrist pins and assembled connecting rods.

Here is the engine removed from the model and sitting on its test stand. The transmission is in the foreground. Most running models are built at larger scales like 1/3 or 1/4. Working in the smaller 1/6 scale magnifies the problems caused by miniaturizing certain parts. Remember that scale parts are 1/6 as long, 1/6 as high and 1/6 as deep as real parts, making them 1/6 x 1/6 x 1/6 or 1/216th of the volume of the original part. Further complicating the prospect of building a running engine at that size is the fact that fuel molecules and electricity don’t scale. It is very difficult to get tiny carburetors and little spark plugs to work like the big ones. A video of Lou starting and running the engine for the first time can be seen at http://videos2view.net/Duesenberg-run.htm .

This is the dashboard and interior with the body primed but not yet painted.
Note the detailed instruments and engine-turned finish on the dash.

And more at this second site …. Enjoy!

Modern Art

‘‘My wife said the Queen was the only person who picked it as a scam,’’ said Firth

Does this mean Sydneysiders get their $30,000 back?

H/T Andrew Bolt

That Dashing Young Man and His — WHAT Machine??

Over at Samizdata, Natalie has posted something on the mewlings of a certain Public Intellectual. One thing led to another with the result that Nick (nice-guy) Gray brought up what he calls “mental pollution.” Through the magic of YrsTrly’s wetware, the same found this, which might provide some entertainment for those Kitties who are loafing around rather than occupying themselves properly with Kounting….

There is a short video of this technological miracle in operation at

http://www.computerhistory.org/babbage/

While there, visitors might wish to consult the Site Map.

Grumpy Cat Has an Agent, and Now a Movie Deal

“Mr. Lashes, 34 years old, is an agent for Internet cats.”

By
KATHERINE ROSMAN 5/31/13

For a Percentage, Agent Turns Internet Fame Into Cash

By
KATHERINE ROSMAN

Some celebrities simply cannot be pleased. Just ask Ben Lashes, a talent manager in Los Angeles. This week, he landed a major motion-picture deal for a client who nine months ago was an unknown living in Morristown, Ariz., population 227.

Grumpy Cat

When he told his client that she was heading to Hollywood, she looked bored. “She hates movies,” says Mr. Lashes of his client, Grumpy Cat ….

Read about this hot new career initiative, view photos and check comments at

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324412604578513352795950958.html?mod=WSJ_article_EditorsPicks.

And then, go read John Scalzi’s SF novel Agent to the Stars. Believe me, it’s pertinent to the present topic!

http://scalzi.com/agent/

I am not Farticus!

You know what the intermong is like: link, link, link…?

I recently discovered this utter gem:

Which is serendipitous. Sort of.

Spartacus Chetwynd (born Lali Chetwynd, 1973) is a British artist known for reworkings of iconic moments from cultural history in deliberately amateurish and improvisatory performances.

You want “amateurish” and improsivatory” performances you should have seen me trying to get a Dell to work with a claw-hammer back in 1998. There would also have been foul language (which I am given to understand is de rigeur in the farts and shitterature these days – I think I called it a right Compaq – at least that is what the owner thought they’d heard…). I don’t tend to use claw-hammers and foul language (that may be a lie) these days for it upsets the cat. Having said that I have never left the “present” of half a mouse on his bed so he can fuck off too. Or…

In 2012, she was nominated for the Turner Prize.

You don’t say.

And when I pissed in a White Lightning bottle and posted it to ‘em they tried to get a restraining order… For shame! My fault for I did science at university and perhaps more appallingly I also did a life drawing class there (optional extra that I paid like a couple of quid a week for and didn’t count for credit) in which I attempted to render a simulacrum of a nude model. Now call me disgracefully old-fashioned (or even staggeringly avant-garde) but I kinda thought being able to draw a nude and make it look like the subject was sort of the point of art. I have also done watercolour landscapes but then that puts me firmly in the antedeluvian class of Turner and such. I have never therefore artistically challenged anyone but unlike a zoo monkey I have never flung dung at anyone either. So, I never artistically dared anyone to keep their stomach contents on the inside either. If I had I’d probs be a sodding millionaire.

I once visited an installation (long story) which consisted of walking down a tunnel of “used” tampons. That was a Newcastle University MA exhibition. For my master’s degree I had to write a thesis on Gödel. Oh, well, the nature of spacetime or jam-rags? And they weren’t even real (the tampons spacetime is very real – it’s like where we live). I met the artist and the thing is she explained it all. Directly opposite Newcastle University is a Boots and she had a lot of red-dye so… I on the other hand merely had to figure out stuff about one of the greatest (and frequently abtuse) mathematicians of all time’s contribution to the feory of Gen Rel.

Sometimes you wonder who is mad?

The filmed performance of the piece by Ms Spartacus was summarised by Adrian Searle as, “The young woman who rode to her own death on the dildo see-saw at the Sugar-Tits Doom Club,” and described by Richard Dorment as, “Silly beyond words and teetered at times on the edge of porn – but once you start looking at it I defy you to tear yourself away.

Dirty old fuckers who would come (in every sense) to the opening of a school-girl’s bra.

So basically neither porn nor art but some crapulence (arguably) “in-between” and worth the cunteth-root of fucketh all anyway. Kinda reminds me of a laptop I was asked to fix once. Nice piece of kit. High-end Acer. Now this otherwise attractive young-ish woman (the video codecs had gone to Hell so I was pointed in the direction of the videos) was naked on the machine, clearly like 7 months preggers and frigging herself into a fury whilst declaiming utter wank – or poetry as it is otherwise known. Well, I fixed the Codecs and the videos looked OK – for a certain value of OK. Her Mum, who gave me the minor task (and rewarded me with a pack of Stella – I would have preferred money which can also be exchanged for Belgian lager) said her daughter was an “artist”. What I didn’t manage to fix (Nick doesn’t do hardware with lappies) was the supremely fucked Firewire port. I’m like a doctor or a priest (I’ve heard it all before and I do not judge – more like a priest really because doctors are the most preachy fuckers on this planet) and I really don’t care what preversities you get up to with your Turing Machine (nobody gets to look at mine! – and it is encrypted to Angband and back).

But, I like to know what the score is if aksed (sic) for a fix. I have seen some fuckaroos in my time mind. I got it on for the DV being in the right colours but not on the IEE 1394 (because she was an artist I didn’t know if the vids were meant to be like that but I got it to look real and that was deemed OK – for a certain value of OK. I asked if a child had ever had access. I was told, “No!” but my tongue said otherwise (One wouldn’t have thought taste was that important but any (Firewire) port in a storm) for it had been buggered with strawberry jam and I had tasted it and I knew the owner had a small boy and there was a shed-load of Barney the Dinosaur vids on the HD. Not that I could fix the bugger, mind. Well, you have to de-solder the IEE 1394 from the board and replace it and I’ll be fucked if I’m doing that. I did fix the Codecs mind.

So, art… Well, I’m gonna get on my high horse now. Because my last trip was to Paris and the Louvre and the Musee d’Orsay boast some of the finest works of art in the Universe. Why else do ya think I was paying EUR 3 for a sodding Coke when I can get one just down the road from Sayeed for 65p? And you need to take out a mortgage to buy a sandwich. A fine city but not a cheap one. Prague on the other hand is both fine and cheap. Last time I Czech-ed it was ace. I was staying with my sister-in-law and her boyfriend in Poland and he drives us just over the border (that is really weird for a Brit – the idea of having a border eight miles away) and we go to a pub and eat a Czech specialty – deep fried cheese, have some smokes and a couple of excellent beers – because the Czech Republic is a civilized place – as is Poland. The Poles do mighty fine vodka but for beer give me the Czechs any day. And that was also the opinion of my Polish host. But the deep-fried cheese was to die for! Oh and near the pub was an L-39 LIFT (look it up) on static display and a T-34. Cool!

Anyway, art?

Whatever!

(I’d move to Prague tomorrow if I could make head or tail of the preverse lingo).

Hurrian Hymn No. 6 — 3400 years old

This one’s dedicated to RAB. :)

Video, appx. 6 minutes. From the long, interesting description:

This unique video, features my arrangement for solo lyre, of the 3400 year old “Hurrian Hymn no.6″, which was discovered in Ugarit in Syria in the early 1950s, and was preserved for 3400 years on a clay tablet, written in the Cuniform text of the ancient Hurrian language – it is THE oldest written song yet known!

. . .

It is played here, on a replica of the ancient Kinnor Lyre from neighbouring Israel; an instrument almost tonally identical to the wooden asymmetric-shaped lyres played throughout the Middle East at this amazingly distant time….

The terrible year of 1986.

A post on an often overlooked year – 1986. A year in which events occured that had (and are having) terrible consequences.

A British person when hearing of the date “1986″  will think (if they think of anything) of the “Single European Act” – formally it came into effect in 1987, but the agreement was made in 1986. Mrs Thatcher was told that the agreement with the European Economic Community (as some still called it at the time) would lead to free trade, an open market, and was, therefore a good thing for a free market person to agree to.

Of course Mrs Thatcher’s information came from officials – note to all politcians, the moment you start to rely on official information (and interpretations) you are lost. For you are no longer really in power – the officials are.

This is not hidesight – I remember as a university undergraduate knowing what the Single European Act was really about, and my friends all knew as well. We all knew that it meant that the EEC (EC – now EU) would be able to impose any regulation it liked in vast areas of life (the British veto having gone  – in these areas) and under vague words like “health” the Euros would be able to crush liberty in this land. The later works of such people Christopher Booker and Richard North just confirmed what we expected to happen. Lord Denning (and many others) had predicted the crushing of Common Law principles by Euro edicts (of course happily extended by British officials – overjoyed to have all restraints on their power destroyed by the Single European Act) at the time.

It was not an open market – it was a “single market” (a very different thing). In an open market customers decide what they want to buy – in a single market officials decide what customers should buy.

However, other terrible things happened in the year 1986.

The other great evil to hit Britain in 1986 was the “Big Bang” in the City of the London – the financial centre.

“But that was deregulation Paul” – it was deregulation, if by “deregulation” you mean government intervention ripping up the rules of private clubs and subtituting its own rules – a government definition of a “free market” defined not by what people had actually evolved over time (by voluntary interaction), but by following the “perfect competition” model from neoclassical economics text books.

There is some evidence that even the people who originally thought up the perfect competition conception only thought of it as theorectical tool (not as a picture of how the world was – or should be), and certainly the Austrian School of economics disputes the concept from start to finish – but the government went ahead anyway. It knew what a market “should” be – and if the people who actually built the markets thought differently, they must be wrong.

Remember although the London stock exchange was created in 1801, there was no law preventing anyone setting up a rival stock market (not before 1986 anyway). And also no law preventing people buying and selling shares “off exchange”. So the City of London (with all its guild like “restrictive practices”) was actually a voluntary institution. In fact a series of private clubs – covering the selling stocks and shares, insurance, commodities (and so on).

What had “deregulation” actually brought? The end of the great partnerships that created the City (the investment banks) – the partners sold up and ran away (not exactly a vote of confidence in the new order – from people some of whom had been in the City for generations). And the self employed stock brokers (who bought shares for the public) and stock jobbers (who sold shares for companies) were replaced by enterprises that did both (no conflict of interest there) and whose employees tended to have no lasting relationship with clients (they see them as cash cows – no more). And, of course, thousands of pages of government regulations (Financial Services Acts – and agencies to enforce them) with endless box ticking.

Somehow this not really seem like “deregulation” to me – in fact I think it will be the death of the City of London. But only time will tell.

Turning to the United States….

An American will say “1986 is that the year the Republicans lost control of the United States Senate?” – yes it was, but I am not concerned with party politics here. I am concerned with policy.

In 1986 an amnesty Act was passed by the Congress (including the Republican Senate) and signed into law by President Reagan. It was not descibed as an amnesty Act of course – the people who voted for it (and Reagan when he signed it) thought they were “controlling immigration” from this point onwards – and (to start from a clean slate) people who had been in the country a long time (and were nice and good – and had puppy dogs with big eyes) would no longer fear being dragged from their homes by evil jack booted thugs from the government. After all this was how officials (and the media – following academia) explained everything to the politicians, just as they had during the 1965 immigration law debate – which first messed up American immigration law.

“But what is wrong with this Paul – free migration, sounds very libertarian”. So it might be – had the Supreme Court (5-4 some years before 1986) not ruled that government (local, State and Federal) had to give “free” (i.e. paid for by taxpayers) education and other benefits to illegal immigrants – otherwise it was “discriminating” against them.

And the few nice illegals (the ones with the puppy dogs with big eyes – the people who love America dearly and do not wave the Mexican flag and pray for the destruction of the United States, not even slightly) who got amnesty? There turned out to be three million of them and (of course) many more millions of illegals followed them into the United States, believeing that they would eventually also get amnesty. As Comrade Barack is doing by Executive Order right now, after all the illegals vote for him even though they are not citizens, thanks to the “Motor Voter” (a driving license is enough to vote) Act he supported as a Senator.

“We should try to win their support Paul” – a person (regardless of ethnic background) who loves the United States can enter legally right now (join the military – serve your term, and you have citizenship). Yes the American immigration system is a mess (and has been since at least 1965 – the Teddy Kennedy Act), but 1986 made it worse – and made it farcical.  Someone who believes the United States unjustly took land from Mexico in 1848 (ignoring the fact that the Mexican government, a military dictatorship,  also wanted war – and had its own expansionist plans) are not likely to vote for people who do not hate the United States. Odd that they are so eager to vote for Barack Obama – of course not odd at all. But have “free migration” as long as there are no government benefits (“free” education for the children and so on) – except, oh dear, there is that Supreme Court judgement  (see above) of some 30 years ago.

Lastly there is the another major Act of Congress from 1986 – one that may help to destroy civilisation, and not just in the United States.

Again neither the people in Congress or President Reagan understood what they were supporting (the officials, media, and academia – advised them again). They thought they were supporting an Act that prevented evil hospitals throwing women on to the street in the middle of giving birth (seriously – that is how the Act was presented to them, after all it is so wonderful for the reputation of a hospital to throw a women who is the middle of giving birth on to the street, they were doing it all the time……).

What did the Act really do?

It made “emergency” treatment (without proof of payment) compulsory at all private hospitals with an ER (formally a hospital was not covered by the Act if it in no way had anything to do with government schemes – in the age of Medicare try and avoid any involvement with government schemes…..).

Wonderful – free treatment for the poor (indeed for anyone – one might try and chase them up afterwards, but about half of them never pay so what is the point….). Accept someone has to pay to pay for all this “free” treatment – so the bill (as with all government mandates) got passed on to the people who were paying their bills. The people who had carried on with private insurance in spite of the previous government interventions – such as Medicare and Medicaid (which has the same effect on health cover costs as government backing for student loans had on college tuition fees – they sent costs into the upper atmosphere) and the endless regulations (insurance mandates and so on) that have so increased costs. No surprise – insurance bills (that now carry all the “free” treatment) have exploded since 1986.

American government (State and Federal) interventions have been pushing up the cost of healthcare since doctor licensing spread from State to State like a plague (that this is about “protecting the sick” was exposed as a lie by Milton Friedman – more than half a century ago, it really has the same purpose as lawyer licensing, to increase producer incomes by keeping people out of the market) and the FDA (this agency was made even worse in 1962 – turning the development of new medical drugs incredibly expensive and delaying their introduction for years, thus costing tens of thousands of human lives). However, it was the Act of 1986 that really sent American health cover into a death spiral – that pushed the costs of insurance (for the old mutual aid “fraternal” system had long been undermined) beyond the reach of ordinary people.

Most people still oppose “Obamacare” (which will complete the destruction of independent health care in the United States – replaceing it with crony capitalist “private providers” who will depend upon the government – till the government decides to get rid of the crony capitalists, as it already has with the providers of government backed student loans), but the majority of people that are opposed was not a big enough majority to stop it (let alone repeal it). After all  everyone agrees that “something must be done” and the “something” is always even more collectivism – “free” health care for all “children” up to the age of 26 (SCHIP on steroids – but paid for by the insurance companies, i.e. by their customers) no “denial” (i.e. honest priceing) of medical cover for “pre exiting conditions” and on and on – the honest insurance companies (oh yes there are some) will be bankrupted over time, and only the cronies (those in bed with the government – hoping to become “private providers” for government funded health cover) will remain. Already more and more employers are dropping health insurance for their employees – as they have worked out that the fines will be cheaper than paying the inflated (inflated by Obamacare regulations) costs of medical insurance.

Does anyone really believe that Mitt “Romneycare” Romney is going to be willing or able to repeal all this?

So American health care will fall – and more than this will fall. For this entitlement program is added to all the existing entitlements – the ones that are already bankrupting the United States.

So the United States will go into de facto bankruptcy. And it will not fall alone – most other major Western nations stand on the knife edge of economic collapse already. The fall of the United States will drag us over the cliff with it.

So, overall, 1986 was not a good year. It may even lead to the “Progressive” dream (of Richard Ely, mentor of  “Teddy” Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, more than a century ago) of the desruction of “selfish capitalism”. For the history of the last century (including 1986) has not been an accident – and nor has it been some hole-in-the-wall “conspiracy”.  On the contrary it has been out in the open  – for those who bothered to look.

The Progressives were open in their aims – and even in their means. They openly said in their books (the century old books that, for example, Glenn Beck tried to bring to public attention) that they would use schools, universities and the newspapers to fundementally transform society – by manipulating opinion (both public and political elite opinion). Truth does not matter to the Progressives (it has never mattered to them) only their cause matters – and they will use any lie and distortion to further their cause – the cause of the destruction of existing society, of “selfish capitalism”. The Fabians in Britain had much the same aims – and used much the same methods. Including the desire to dominate education – not just at university level, but at school level (via text books and “teacher training” – step forward Comrade Bill Ayers and “social justice” education).

The books are more subtle today – such books as “Looking Backward”, “Philip Dru: Administrator” and “New Deal” (oh yes there was such a book) were a lot more blatent in their love of tyranny and hatred of freedom (sorry hated of selfish capitalism) than “Freakonomics”,  “Nudge” and “Thinking – Fast and Slow”, but they have the same message. The message is as follows …. most people are vermin (“Homer Simpson” types) they are bound to be maniputed by someone (most likely by greedy capitalists) so why should not the noble we (the enlightened elite) manipulate them – for their own good. “Thinking Fast and Slow” is the most fundemental of the lot – it openly denies that people (apart from, nudge and wink, the noble author and his noble readers) are human beings, they do not really think (they do not really have free will) so someone must control them – for their own good……. Yes it is “So You Think That You Think” the fictional collectivist book (aimed at making people accept that they are vermin – fit only to be controlled by an enlightened elite) that Ayn Rand makes up in her novel “Atlas Shrugged” back in the 1950s (the collectivists never really change – and their “science” is actually as old as Plato).

“But Paul – how do you know the authors of Freakonmics and Nudge share the idealogy of the author of Thinking – Fast and Slow?” Errr  – the praise they give the latter work (on its front and back cover – and when interviewed) is a little hint. I did tell you that this was not a hole-in-the-wall conspiracy – it is quite open, if you look. What more do you want – for the evil elite to have glowing red eyes and tenticles? Sorry, but they look like ordinary folk – and have gentle voices full of charming wit (whereas their enemies, people like me, sound like old storm crows).

The Progressives may not share the doctrines of the Marxists (although modern Frankfurt School “cultural” Marxists do not seem to make a big thing of the actual doctrines of Karl Marx either) – but they share their aim (the destruction of selfish capitalism). Ditto the alliance with the Black Flag people (the so called “anarchists” who happily cooperate with the Red Flag Marxists in such things as the international “Occupy” movement and the unions the collectivists control, for you see the Black Flag “anarchists” do not really oppose collectivism, they just want to rename the state “the people” and then get on with the looting and killing) – the Progressives may (privately) sneer and their uncouth allies – but leading Progressives (such as Mr George Soros and the other rich people who fund such things as the “Tides Foundation”) still fund them. And Progressive teachers and college Profs understand that both the Red Flag Marxists and the Black Flag “anarchists” are allies – allies against “selfish capitalism”, the old world they must destroy in order to build their perfect world.

Of course I am a reactionary – I do not believe that the interventions (the ever higher government spending and ever greater regulations) make the world a better place. And many of the Progressives do not believe that either – they believe (along with the Marxists who follow the “Cloward and Piven” doctrine and others) that the ever greater statism will destroy the present world – and, thus, (in their minds) leave things open for the building of the perfect world.

The “Fabian Window” (perhaps the most blatent example of evil turned into a work of art – and the Fabians were natural allies of the Progressives) makes this clear – wolves in sheep’s clothing, trickery and lies (openly praised), the world held over a fire and beaten with hammers (in order to create a better world – regardless of the human cost). George Bernard Shaw and H. G. Wells openly talked of the tens of millions of human beings they wished to kill (not because they hated them “I do not hate anyone” said Shaw), but simply because they were in the way – in the way of creating the perfect world (the Heaven on Earth). And these evil people remain “liberal” heros to this day – ever seen a television show or a Hollywood film where they are shown as “bad guys”?. And, of course, they went on to support the Soviet Union – with Mr and Mrs Webb pretending that tens of millions of people were not being murdered (remember lying is O.K. if it is for the Progressive cause). Mrs Webb had some doubts, over the mass killings in Poland when the Soviets invaded in 1939 – you know when they were the allies of Adolf Hitler, but Mr Webb simply told her that “in a century no one will even remember this”. All was justified to build the “New Civilisation”.

And the American Progressives were the same. With Hollywood personalities busy doing such things as justifying the Soviet invasion of Finland – “I have been there and it seemed a little Fascist Republic to me” said Lillian Hellman (wife of  Dashiell Hammett [1929 "Red Harvest" evil capitalist America "Poisonville"] – together they made the prototype “celeb” Progressive power couple, both in Hollywood and in literary circles). One could always tell when Hellman was lying – her lips moved, not only was Finland not Fascist but Hellman had not been there.

One could go on and on – and people may already be bored (although in 1986  – and 2012 the Progressive celebs are just as powerful in cultural circles). And there is the standard defence (made by “anti McCarthyites”, even though Joe was actually interested in Communist agents of influence in the government not in the culture,  since the 1940s) “they are not Marxists”.  And they may not be – they may not have read a page of “Das Kapital” . The “Progressives” just share the objectives of the Marxists – the extermination of the existing society of  “selfish capitalism” (and anyone who defends it – rich or poor “henchman of the capitalists”), and the building of the wonderful new perfect world.

However, I am such a reactionary that I not only believe that that their interventionism (their ever higher government spending and ever more regulations) makes the world worse (not better) than it otherwise would be -  I also believe that their wonderful new perfect world (the one they dream of creating on the ashes of the existing world) would be Hell on Earth.

Flying Cats in Amsterdam

They call this art in Holland.  A prime contender for the Turnyer Stomach prize…?

Boris Broadcasting Company

Boris Johnson – another politician that simply doesn’t “get it“.

So what do you think, eh?” I turned to the BBC’s art critic, the brilliant, bulging Professor Branestawm lookalike Will Gompertz. We were standing on the top of the ArcelorMittal Orbit in Stratford; London was spread beneath us like a land of dreams – was that France I could see in the distance? – and yet I was nervous.

London is a land of dreams but only in the la-la sense.  Ground zero being centred on Westminster, of course.

This sculpture is a masterpiece, far better and more rewarding up close than it appears at a distance. The steel loops are an arterial red, writhing and shifting against each other beneath the blue sky. Anish Kapoor already has many fans, but he has excelled himself with this vast fallopian ampersand, this enigmatic hubble bubble, this proud vertical invitation to London 2012.

This blessed plot, this, earth, this realm, this England?  Give me a break!  That heap of junk would have the Bard himself frothing into his beard. Let’s hope that it gets nicked, weighed in and shipped off to China.   It would be a mercy.

The Orbit is a decisive assertion of the city’s status as the world capital of culture and the arts. That’s my view, anyway, and I am sticking to it, though I am conscious that not everyone agrees.

First we get that ridiculous Olympic 2012 logo foisted upon the event and now this?  Do you really want to associate London’s credibility status in the cultural arts on that tortured miscreation, Boris?  The only way that “sculpture” could be worse is if Tracey Emin had been commissioned to tie used femidoms all over it.

There are plenty of people who absolutely hate the thing, just as most Parisians initially despised the Eiffel Tower (and didn’t Charles Dickens campaign against the building of Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster?).

Boris, Boris, Boris.  You can’t go around comparing architectural wonders with a high rise scrap yard.  It just isn’t the done thing, old bean.

I have heard it compared to a catastrophic collision between two cranes, a mutant helter-skelter, a mangled trombone, and worse. So of course I waited with bated breath for the verdict of the BBC.

Why?  Haven’t you got something better to do with your time?  Like mayoral stuff or riding your bike or something?

Did Gompertz like it as much as I did?

Who gives a flying fig?

My friends, he did not.

Diddums!

Or at least, he liked it, but he had two complaints. “It’s not big enough,” he said, “and surely it should be free.” Not big enough! Free! There you have everything that is wrong with the BBC and with this country.

At which point Boris departs from this reality and signs up as a jockey for the Megalodon Steeplechase.

The thing is already colossal – about twice the height of Nelson’s column. If we went much higher we would have to re-route the planes out of City airport. And yes, it costs something to go up – though less than it costs to go up the London Eye – but what is the alternative? The alternative is that the whole operation would have to be subsidised by the taxpayer when it is one of the (many) saving graces of this structure that it has been very largely financed by private sponsorship.

It’s colossal all right.  A colossal eyesore.  And how largely subsidised by private sponsorship is very largely subsidised?  Boris doesn’t say.  It goes without saying that the rest of the money was wrested from the public purse.  So let’s set Boris’ semantics aside and be truthful.  Joe and Joan public have picked up part of the tab for this epic tower of cultural mutilation.

In his criticisms, Gompertz was revealing not the instincts of an art critic – but the mentality of the BBC man. Unlike the zany eccentric ArcelorMittal Orbit, the zany eccentric Gompertz is almost entirely publicly funded. It is up to you whether or not to go up the Orbit – though I thoroughly recommend it. You have no choice about funding Gompertz. Everyone who possesses a TV has to pay more than £145 to put him on air.

So the taxpayers who dug into their pockets to make up the lack of 100% private sponsorship were given a choice, were they?

The BBC is unlike any other media organisation in the free world, in that it levies billions from British households whether they want to watch it or not. No wonder its employees have an innocent belief that everything in life should be “free”. No wonder – and I speak as one who has just fought a campaign in which I sometimes felt that my chief opponent was the local BBC news – the prevailing view of Beeb newsrooms is, with honourable exceptions, statist, corporatist, defeatist, anti-business, Europhile and, above all, overwhelmingly biased to the Left.

Of course they are: the whole lot of them are funded by the taxpayer. Eurosceptic views are still treated as if they were vaguely mad and unpleasant, even though the Eurosceptic analysis has been proved overwhelmingly right.

And the different between the Beeboids and post normal Toryism Cameroonism is…?

In all its lavish coverage of Murdoch, hacking and BSkyB, the BBC never properly explains the reasons why other media organisations – including the BBC – want to shaft a free-market competitor (and this basic dishonesty is spotted by the electorate; it’s one of the reasons real people are so apathetic about the Leveson business).

It’s that same dishonesty so prevalent in party politics that has been spotted by the electorate, Boris.  People have also grown wearily apathetic to the LibLabCons.  Aren’t you aware of the similarities?  Or are you willfully blind to them?

Well, folks, we have a potential solution. In a short while we must appoint a new director-general, to succeed Mark Thompson. If we are really going ahead with Lords reform (why?), then the Lib Dems should allow the Government to appoint someone to run the BBC who is free-market, pro-business and understands the depths of the problems this country faces. We need someone who knows about the work ethic, and cutting costs. We need a Tory, and no mucking around. If we can’t change the Beeb, we can’t change the country.

That isn’t a solution, Boris.  Labour bias, Tory bias, what’s the difference?  We’ll still get bias!  The solution is to scrap the telly licence, remove the BBC from the public teet and let market forces prevail.  Who then will give two hoots what bias the BBC has because we won’t be paying for it.  And who gives a kipper’s dangly bits what the Lib Dems will allow or not.  They lost the last election, Boris.  L. O. S. T. lost!  Stupendously!  iDave seems to have sold his soul to Clegg in order to get his greasy mitts on the crowbar of power only to find it was actually a teaspoon, one that only stirs to the left!  Was it worth it?  Apparently so.

Boris, I like you as a bloke.  You are affable and amusing.  You make interesting documentaries.  However, there is no way, in the seven screaming hells of Wattalottaflanul, I would ever accept you as potential Prime Ministerial material.

A classical education is clearly not required by the Met.*

While London looks increasingly like a city under martial law it is nice to see the Met still have time for pursuing nonsenses as well as going round looking like characters from some post-apocalyptic FPS game…

There were no complaints from the public when a Mayfair gallery exhibited a dramatic modern rendering of the ancient Greek myth of Leda and the swan in its window.

But the sensitive souls of the Metropolitan Police took a different view when they spotted Derrick Santini’s photograph of a naked woman being ravished by the bird.

Personally I quite like the picture and I think it’s a bit more “artistic” than “ravished”.

An officer took exception as he passed the Scream gallery in Bruton Street on a bus. He alerted colleagues and two uniformed officers from Harrow arrived to demand the work be removed.

“Alerted”? I mean this morning a copper in Leeds on his way into work spotted and then alerted his colleagues and then apprehended a double murder suspect. That’s “alerted”. And why two coppers? I dunno though in the current climate of Olympic and Jubilee paranoia I guess it’s lucky they didn’t send a SWAT team.

Jag Mehta, sales director at the gallery owned by Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood’s sons Tyrone and Jamie, said: “We asked them what the problem was and they said it suggested we condoned bestiality, which they said was an arrestable offence. The show, Metamorphosis, had been running for a month and was really well received.”

Now that is the nub of it is it not? Bestiality is illegal though to be fair I’ve always tended to see it as it’s own punishment. But is “condoning bestiality” or indeed condoning anything actually illegal. Or did the cops just take offence and make it up? Like when they made-up a death penalty for being a Brazilian electrician in South London?

The final day of the exhibition was on Saturday and the gallery was taking down the artworks when police arrived. Ms Mehta pointed out that for prim Victorians, the myth of how Zeus, in the form of a swan, raped young Leda and produced Helen of Troy, was an acceptable form of erotica. But the explanation that the picture was based on a legend that had inspired countless generations of artists failed to cut the mustard with the police, she said.

They didn’t know anything about the myth. They stood there and didn’t leave until we took the piece down. They asked us whether we had had complaints and we said quite the contrary. Lots of people were intrigued by it.

As I said I rather like it. What is this about, really? I suspect at some level the cops were acting due to the our old friend – the absurd and illiberal Violent and Extreme Pornography Act. To summarize. This act potentially makes almost any image deemed pornographic potentially illegal. Everything from an old copy of the Sun (with Sam Fox aged sixteen back when that was legal) to this rather famous example of Japanese art**. Yes, it is retroactive and yes it applies to paintings or drawings or CGI as well. It is not just victimless thought crime (though it is) but it’s a also a strict liability which means that if a court decides it is Frankie Vaughn or could be construed as such you’ll be taken up the Gary Glitter.

It is understood that the incident was not recorded by police as a crime.

Because it wasn’t one. Or shouldn’t be. God knows. The law doesn’t.

*Or even a passing aquaintance with English law or Peel’s Principles of Policing. Or a Terry Pratchett Watch book.

**A peculiarity here is that this image would be regarded as very naughty by the Japanese due to the depiction of pubic hair. In comparison here it would appear now that a shaven woman is more likely to get you into trouble for making the image look child-like. Yes, an image seen to be of a child regardless of the model’s actual age can be illegal. Yes, the actual age of the model is no defence. And neither is the purpose for which the image exists. Here is a theoretical example. Let’s imagine my wife (33 – but still sometimes gets IDed for buying wine which like nude modelling is an 18+ thing) and I take some foxy piccies of her in the buff. I have potentially committed a child pornography offence even if it is entirely for private purposes. Of course if this photo-shoot ends with us having sex that is OK but filming or photographing it might be illegal if it was deemed by a court as a representation of a minor. The fact that this was an entirely consensual act between a married couple for their own fun with no intent to sell this is as kiddie-porn would not be a defense. This is strict liability recall.

Spot The Difference

Image H/T PetaPixel

The images have a similar theme: a red Routemaster bus against a greyscale Westminster Palace background.  Both shots of familiar London landmarks and fairly innocuous as such images go.  At least you would think so.

The image at the top is the intellectual property of Temple Island Collection (TIC), a company that produces souvenir gifts.  The lower image belongs to New English Teas (NET).

So far, so mundane.  So what?

If you scroll down to the bottom of TIC’s page you’ll see this:

TEMPLE ISLAND SCORE SECOND COPYRIGHT VICTORY OVER NEW ENGLISH TEAS

However, TIC fail to elaborate what their victories entail.

Take another look at those images.  Red Routemaster bus, greyscale Westminster Palace.  There the similarities end.  The compositions are different even if the subjects are the same.  We’ve all seen similar images and they are nothing new.  Here’s one selling promoting London and Hyde Park Towers hotel.  Here’s another one being sold as a poster.  Such images are all over the internet and have been popular with the souvenir/poster buying tourists and public for decades.  It’s a typical London scene that must have been photographed millions of times.  Yet NET has been denied the use of their image on product packaging by a British judge because of a perceived breach of copyright.

Yes, you read that correctly.  Red bus + greyscale Westminster Palace = copyrighted by TIC.  Kerrrrr-ching.

So you want to market goods promoting Britain using an image synonymous with all that is London and British. You shoot a photograph of a world renowned London Routemaster bus using Westminster Palace as a backdrop.  You then Photoshop the image in a popular and highly unoriginal way and use it to sell your merchandise.  Job done.  But wait, what’s this?  TIC own the intellectual rights to ALL similar images even if the composition is different and the concept of a coloured subject against a greyscale background predates Adobe Photoshop by a century or more?  How come you suddenly have no choice but to approach TIC for a licence to use your image commercially?  Has the UK gone completely nucking futz?

Sadly, the answer is yes.  Yes it has.

We have a controversial and deeply stupid copyright law ruling to blame for this latest insult against fairness and common sense.  For photographers nothing is safe from the lawyers and the legal system.  Not familiar landmarks.  Not tried and tested photographic manipulation.  Not even the fruits of your creative imagination.  Not unless you are a bastard and patent your output even though it’s not original by a long shot.

You can read about the whole sorry story here.

Taking the Piss, Bigtime…

The other day I dropped in to Longrider’s site. He had a post up about the pretentious piece of crap calling itself Art, that is one of the most boring photos the world has ever seen, but which sold for over two million sponds (there’s a sucker born every minute), when someone called Voyager turned up telling him that he didn’t understand, and launched into the usual Artobabble. Well you don’t want to be doing that with Longrider, he understands perfectly well what is and isn’t crap, and put the boot in.

Well that was just the usual elitist Art snobbery at work, but this folks, well it reaches new heights of fuckwittery previously thought unattainable in the annuls of utter claptrap.

Graffiti daubed on the walls of a flat by the Sex Pistols’ Johnny Rotten could be as important as the discovery of early Beatles recordings – or even the prehistoric Lascaux cave paintings.

Oh my giddy fuckin pogoing Aunt!

Though they admit it could be considered offensive, they argue that its presence confirms the Denmark Street flat as an important historical and archaeological site.

No it friggin doesn’t! Look here’s a definition of Archaeology, you’re an Archaeology Department, you must know what your own discipline is about, surely??

“Archaeology is our way of reading that message and understanding how these peoples lived. Archaeologists take the clues left behind by the people of the past, and, like detectives, work to reconstruct how long ago they lived, what they ate, what their tools and homes were like, and what became of them.”

No guesswork needed here, all you have to do is get on a plane to LA and knock on John’s door, be greeted with a wide grin, a plate of crumpets and a lot of beer, and fuckin ask him about this “Historic” find. He will then proceed to wind you up something Rotten, then kick you out when he gets bored, laughing his arse off!

The “historic” artwork is plain Beano circa 1970, not Picasso’s Blue period. And to even dare to compare it to the Lascaux cave paintings is ludicrous.

They are 17,000 years old and were done flat on their backs with torchlight by our ancestors using the most primitive implements imaginable, and they are among the most beautiful works of Art the world has ever produced. John probably did these cartoons after a long night down the pub, with a felt tip.

How these academic loonies cash their paycheques every month with a straight face is beyond me.

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