Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Quote for the Day


Paulo Coelho (1947 - ) is a Brazilian novelist and lyricist.


Vincent - Stars, Oils and Ink

Vincent van Gogh, Self-portrait without beard, end September 1889

Vincent van Gogh wrote numerous letters to his brother Theo, to his sister and to other artists, often describing the paintings he had finished or that he was working on and frequently accompanying those letters with sketches of the paintings.  It makes interesting reading, as do the comparisons between the sketches and the completed works.

Some examples:

Starry Night Over Rhone River



In a letter to Belgian painter Eugene Boch in October of 1888, Vincent describes the painting as "...a study of the Rhone, of the town under gaslight and reflected in the blue river. With the starry sky above -- with the Great Bear -- with a pink and green sparkle on the cobalt blue field of the night sky." In a letter to his brother Vincent refers to the two figures as “lovers”.

The foreground of the painting indicates heavy reworking with wet on wet, the sketch probably predating the rework.

In the rework, the land and the water are much less separated than shown in the sketch to Boch, the figures appear to be wading out of the water and the colours are darker. Are they escaping a sinking overturned boat? Did he rework the foreground because of some personal dark moment he was going through?

Cafe Terrace at Night:


(with detail in both above images)

Painted about the same time as Starry Night Over Rhone River, Cafe Terrace at Night is part of the star trilogy, along with Starry Night painted the next year.

It shows a cafe on one of the public squares in Arles, lit by gaslight. The cafe still exists, and has become a tourist attraction, renamed "Cafe Van Gogh." After completing the painting of the cafe terrace, Van Gogh wrote in a letter to his sister, Willemien: "It amuses me enormously to paint the night right on the spot. Normally, one draws and paints the painting during the daytime after the sketch. But I like to paint the thing immediately." He included an ink drawing of the painting.

Unlike Starry Night over Rhone River, the mood in this work appears to be cheerful, tranquil rather than of turmoil and darkness.

Starry Night:



Starry Night was painted in June 1889 and depicts the view from the east-facing window of his asylum room at Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, just before sunrise, with the addition of an idealized village. He had voluntarily admitted himself into the asylum after the breakdown that resulted in his mutilating his own ear.

In a letter to his brother, Theo, he described this painting and three others done at the same time: "...these are exaggerations from the point of view of arrangement, their lines are warped as that of old wood."

Vincent made a detailed study of the painting in pen and ink, now titled "Cypresses in Starry Night." It shows the movement in the curving textures in the sky, trees and landscape elements even more dramatically than the painting.

One art analyst, Jessica Caldarone, has interpreted the cypresses in Starry Night to represent Vincent himself, his isolation from family, friends and the artistic community just as the cypresses are isolated from the town below –

As I said, fascinating.


Monday, August 31, 2015

Quote for the Day



Monday Miscellany


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A contribution from my daughter, worthy of a Friday Corn Corner:

I just deleted all the German names off my phone. It’s Hans free.

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From Byter Arthur T in respect of the post about Annandale:
What magnificent houses were built in Annandale. I remember only as far back as 1970 you could not give them away. A lot of Portuguese were buying there, I was working on Parramatta Road selling real estate. It was the same in Balmain where I grew up - if you stood at the Town Hall and sang a song they would have donated Balmain to you. How things have changed. I remember when I got married and brought my wife to live in Balmain from Fairfield - my in-laws were not impressed. That’s life. Enjoy the day. Yiasou. AT
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An email from Martin S:

An old one, but a good one:


Martin’s link is to a clip of comedian Stan Boardman appearing on the Des O’Connor show in England in the mid eighties.

Some comments:

The sound and visual are not synchronised very well, so it is easier to listen than to watch and listen.

The description of the clip is as follows: “This few minutes of live TV cost Stan Boardman his TV career and stopped the Des O'Connor show ever going out live again....but my god it was funny!”

This would have taken place in the days before the 7 second delay broadcasting which today allows material to be stopped from being sent if objectionable.

Des O’Connor was known as a nice guy with a middle of the road, style who appealed to the mums and dads. This would have made Stan Boardman’s joke even more shocking to viewers.


It is correct that Des O’Connor’s show could no longer go out live after this incident and that Stan Boardman had difficulty with TV gigs thereafter. 

F bombs were a lot more controversial 30 years ago than today so this joke caused a fuhrer furore back then.

One commentator has made the observation that “American readers, who are accustomed to ‘Polish’ jokes, may be expecting this to be an anti-Polish joke which depicts Polish people as stupid. It's not. In fact, the stereotype of Poles in this country is probably very different to that of the US, since the main thing that people think of here - when they think of Poles - are all the Polish airman who fought for the RAF in the Battle of Britain, and the Polish paratroopers who fought at Arnhem.”

Focke-Wulf was a German aircraft manufacturer which provided many of the WW2 German military aircraft, including the Focke-Wulf 190.

The final comment is that it is audio humour that does not work as well when written. Click on the above link and have a listen.

For those who don’t wish to take the time to do that, here is a slightly different version to that in the Youtube clip, but which maintains the same elements and key ingredients: 

The joke:

A BBC TV journalist is interviewing a elderly former Polish fighter pilot.

Interviewer: So Mr Stanczewski, I understand that in 1943 you shot down five German aircraft in a single engagement. Could you tell us what happened?

Polish Fighter Pilot: Well we were flying at 20,000 feet when we spotted five Fokkers flying along below us. So we dived down and I aimed at one of the Fokkers and fired a burst from my machine guns right into him and he exploded. Then I saw that one of the Fokkers was on my tail, so I pulled round in a loop and got behind him, and fired and he went down on fire. I looked around and saw two Fokkers attacking my squadron leader, so slipped in behind them, and fired, and that was another Fokker going down in flames. The other Fokker tried to get away from me, but I got right up behind him, and blasted him with my machine guns and turned over and exploded. There was only one of the Fokkers left now, and he was trying to get away, but I flew up behind him, shot - bang, bang, bang - and he blew up too!

Interviewer: I should point out for the benefit of the viewers at home, that the Fokker was a type of German aircraft used in the war.

Polish Fighter Pilot: No, no, no - these fokkers were Messerschmitts!

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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Quote for the Day

"The control of information is something the elite always does, particularly in a despotic form of government. Information, knowledge, is power. If you can control information, you can control people."

- Tom Clancy (1947 – 2013)


American novelist best known for his technically detailed espionage and military science storylines set during and after the Cold War. Seventeen of his novels were bestsellers, and more than 100 million copies of his books are in print.


Sunday Sydney Suburbs continued: Annangrove - Arcadia

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ANNANGROVE:

Location:
42 kilometres north-west of Sydney

Name origin:
In the beginning was George Johnston (12764-1823), who was granted land whereon he built a house, and he named his house Annandale after the place of his birth, Annan, in Scotland, and he saw that it was good. The people of the village also saw that it was good and they named their suburb after his house, Annandale. Then George begat Robert (1792-1882) who begat Edward Charles (1850- 1913) who also acquired land, which he named Annangrove after the house of his grandfather. And he too saw that it was good.

Comments:
And it came to pass in the year of Our Lord Two Thousand and Three that in this community of devout and pious members of the Christian faith, members of a different faith, Islam, wished to establish a centre where they could offer up prayers to Allah. There was a great wailing and gnashing of teeth in the land that was known as Annangrove with some predicting it would be the End of Civilisation As We Know It, but the application was granted by the Elders of the community and in the year 2004 the Imam Hasan Centre was opened. And it came to pass that the predicted dire consequences did not came to pass, the Elder Phillip Ruddock saying in the House of the Elders in 2011, as written in Hansard:
More recently, I had the opportunity to attend another function. This time, it was in the electorate of Mitchell but organised by a constituent of mine. The constituent, Mr Abbas Aly, is a significant businessman in the Norwest Business Park, running a firm called Triforce. He was the inspiration for holding this function, which, along with Hornsby Shire Council, which became the recipient of the funds, served to ensure that the victims of floods in Queensland would benefit. This function was supported by the community of the Imam Hasan Centre at Annangrove, who, having previously supported the Pakistan flood appeal, thought they should do more for those in our own community. One hundred per cent of the funds, over $52,000, went to the Queensland flood appeal via the Hornsby Mayor’s Flood Appeal, which was a very significant occasion.  
The Imam Hasan Centre in Annangrove, a suburb in my electorate, was established only fairly recently, on 16 October 2004, coinciding with the first night of Ramadan. Even though it had a fairly rocky initial path, the comments I have received suggest that it has settled well into our community. It participates in the broader community and holds regular interfaith meetings with other religious organisations. The centre was named after the first grandson of the Holy Prophet, the Prophet Muhammad. Imam Hasan was an advocate for peace, and it is said that an example of his character can be seen in his saying:
The most preferable adornment is graceful manners and height of intelligence is associating with people amicably. 
The community in my electorate represents the religious diversity of Australia, something of which one can be very proud. In our community there are people of many different religions, cultures and races, who come together and support each other in a very positive way. I commend Abbas Aly and the community of the Imam Hasan mosque for their support for the people of Queensland in the horrific floods that they experienced. I am sure that, as many more people see examples of this sort of commitment to our broader community, it will make it much easier for us to be a harmonious society. In the context of Harmony Day, which we celebrated this week, I am pleased to have been able to bring these matters to the attention of the House.

Editor’s note: compare this with the racism at Camden when it was sought to establish an Islamic school 

Gallery:

Imam Hasan Centre

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ARCADIA:

Location:
42 kilometres north-west of Sydney.

Name origin:
Arcadia is a region in Greece that dates back to antiquity. It has given its name to a mythical idealised, utopian area of unspoiled wilderness where the people are virtous, living close to nature and unspoiled by civilisation. The name Arcadia has also come to mean “a pastoral retreat” as a flow-on from the foregoing.

The Sydney suburb Arcadia came into being in 1817 as one of a number of timber cutters’ settlements in the area. These early settlements were originally known as Upper, Middle, Lower, North and Little Dural. The name Arcadia was given to a public school that opened in this area in 1894 and was later adopted for the suburb. The school still functions.

Comments:
Although some orchids and farms, nurseries and cut flower farms remain, the area is today one of residences, trees and hills, a pastoral retreat as the name suggests.

A website on the history of Arcadia the suburb and Arcadia Public School was created in 2014 as part of the Arcadia Public School 120th celebrations: 

Gallery:


Official school photo 1897

Phillip Ruddock at Arcadia Public School



Saturday, August 29, 2015

Quote for the Day



Saturday Snippets

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KKK emblem

The Ku Klux Klan was founded on 24 December 1865 in Tennessee by 6 veterans of the Confederate Army. Former Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest, after whom Forrest Gump was named, was the KKK’s first grand wizard; in 1869, he unsuccessfully tried to disband it after he grew critical of the Klan’s excessive violence. 

General Nathan Bedford Forrest

The name Ku Klux Klan is derived from the Greek word kyklos, meaning “circle,” and the Scottish-Gaelic word “clan,” which was chosen for the sake of alliteration.

There have been 3 Klan movements:

1865-1871: 
Founded the Klan sought to overthrow the Republican state governments in the South during the Reconstruction Era, especially by violence against African American leaders. 

1915-1944: 
The second Klan movement was founded in 1915 and was more structured, better organised and more widespread. It had a peak membership of 4-5 million men and had a platform of strong opposition to Catholicism. This period saw the adoption of the burning cross symbol. Internal divisions, criminal behaviour by leaders, and external opposition brought about a collapse in membership, with a fading away in the 1940’s.

1950’s, 1960’s -
The Ku Klux Klan name was used by a numerous independent local groups opposing the Civil Rights Movement and desegregation, especially in the 1950s and 1960s. During this period, they often forged alliances with Southern police departments, as in Birmingham, Alabama; or with governor's offices, as with George Wallace of Alabama. Several members of KKK groups were convicted of murder in the deaths of civil rights workers and children in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham. Today, researchers estimate that there may be 150 Klan chapters with upwards of 5,000 members nationwide.

Ku Klux Klan Parade on Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C.
Sep, 1926
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Pink Floyd’s Another Brick In the Wall Trefers to the "walls" people put up to protect themselves. Any time something bad happens, we withdraw further, putting up "another brick in the wall."

As the song ends, the sounds of a school yard are heard, along with a Scottish teacher who continues to lord it over the children's lives by shouting "Wrong! Do it again!", and "If you don't eat yer meat, you can't have any pudding! How can you have any pudding if you don't eat yer meat?!", and "You! Yes! You behind the bikesheds! Stand still, laddie!", all of it dissolving into the dull drone of a phone ringing and ending with a deep sigh.  (Meaning: you can't have the second course, dessert, often called "pudding" in England, if you don'rt finish the first course, ie meat, vegies etc).


When Pink Floyd first recorded this song, it was one verse and one chorus, and lasted 1:20. Producer Bob Ezrin wanted it longer, but the band refused. While they were gone, Ezrin made it longer by inserting the kids as the second verse, adding some drum fills, and copying the first chorus to the end.

The name Pink Floyd is derived from the given names of two blues musicians, Pink Anderson and Floyd Council.
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The expression “Curiosity killed the cat” was originally expressed as “care killed the cat”, with “care” in this context meaning “worry” or “sorrow”. That form of the expression is first recorded in the English playwright Ben Jonson's play Every Man in His Humour, 1598:

"Helter skelter, hang sorrow, care'll kill a Cat, up-tails all, and a Louse for the Hangman."

Shakespeare used it a year later in Much Ado About Nothing:

"What, courage man! what though care killed a cat, thou hast mettle enough in thee to kill care."

The transformation to cats being killed by curiosity is probably due to the inquisitive nature of cats and that curiosity was looked down on as a negative trait. The earliest recording of the phrase in this sense 

is from The Galveston Daily News, 1898:

It is said that once "curiosity killed a Thomas cat." 

A Thomas cat is a male cat, btw.
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Two Nazi submarines declined to surrender when Berlin fell and instead remained submerged for two months before landing in Argentina. One of the submarines, U-530, is said to have offloaded a Nazi officer and a civilian before being detected. There was speculation at the time that the officer and civilian were Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun in disguise.

Submarine U-530 after surrender.
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When the Nazi Party held its first bookburnings, one of the works destroyed was an 1821 play by Heinrich Heine containing the famous line: “Where they burn books, they will in the end also burn people.”


Friday, August 28, 2015

Quote(s) for the Day

A treasure trove of anonymous quotes for this fine Friday . . .








Funny Friday


Friday again, so time for some Friday fun.

Ashley Madison has been in the news. 


For those who have been in a coma or off-planet for the last 4 weeks, the following is a summary from Wikipedia:
Ashley Madison is a Canada-based online dating service and social networking service marketed to people who are married or in a committed relationship. Its slogan is "Life is short. Have an affair. The website was launched in 2001. The name of the site was created from two popular female names, "Ashley" and "Madison". 
According to third-party web analytics provider SimilarWeb, the site has more than 124 million visits per month, as of 2015, and is ranked No. 18 among Adult sites.  
The company received attention on July 15, 2015, after hackers stole all of its customer data—including email addresses, names, home addresses, sexual fantasies and credit card information—and threatened to post all the data online if Ashley Madison and fellow Avid Life Media site EstablishedMen.com were not permanently closed. By July 22, the first names of customers were released by hackers, with all of the user data released on August 18, 2015. More data (including some of the CEO's emails) was released on August 20, 2015. The release included data from customers who had earlier paid a $19 fee to Ashley Madison to allegedly have their data deleted. The $19 charge was applied to people who had accounts set up against their will, as a workplace prank, or due to a mistyped email address.

I hadn't thought about pranks or mistaken identities until reading the above.

There have apparently been 2 suicides as a result of disclosure of the Ashley Madison data (one suicide has since been linked to general depression) with some celebs having been outed, including high profile moralists. The latter illustrates Ralph Waldo Emerson's observation that “The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons.”
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Some Funny Friday Ashley Madison observations and comments:

After the leak of the hacked Ashley Madison adult dating website data I have discovered a long lost identical twin brother I didn't know I had. He even has the same name as me.
















Corn Corner:

There was this troupe of dancers that travelled around the country dancing in clubs and theatres. They were called the Steppers.

At one club, the Steppers did such a good job of pulling in patrons that the management gave them all the drinks they could drink after the show.

Well, they all got plastered and were having a big party. When it came time to get on their bus to travel to the next town, they did not want to stop partying, so they just moved the party to the bus. As they rode down the highway, you could here their yelling, singing, and laughing for miles.

At a house along that very highway, there lived a family that had a pet snake. It was a viper, and it's name was Peter.

That night, Peter Viper was asleep in his snake house in the back yard. Suddenly, he was awakened by a loud racket. It was the bus carrying the Steppers still having their party.

But Peter didn't know that. In his confusion, he thought he was back in deep dark Africa being pursued by Pygmies. He slithered out of his snake house, headed across the yard as fast as he could, and crossed the highway just in front of the bus.

The bus driver, who was a little sleepy, saw Peter Viper in the road, and mistook him for a giant log. He swerved, and the bus landed in the ditch, drunk Steppers lying everywhere.

The next day, the headline in the paper read: "Peter Viper wrecks a truck of pickled Steppers."