Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Archive for the ‘Arts’ Category


Posted by Dave Bath on 2011-02-07

Nicely thought out, very nicely. Hat Tip The Meta Picture (¿does anyone know where it comes from originally?).

Circle of leaves of different ages making up a spectrum

Life Is A Cycle

The degradation of different porphyrin rings (found in chlorophyll, rubrophyll, xanthophyll, as well as haemoglobin), shown by the different colors over time, is something I’m only vaguely aware of (mammals and microbes only at uni), but a botanical biochemist might be able to base an entire lecture on this piece of art.

Beautiful, even though I perceive it differently from most of you.

Dang – posting by el-cheapo mobile phone with a small screen does cause the odd typo or 10!

Posted in Arts, Science and Tech | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

The Scandinavian Play

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-12-16

Ashamed to be Australian when Howard encouraged warmongering across the world, now it’s time for Australians to be ashamed as KRudd effectively encourages warming.  And the citizens allowed both PMs to get away with such immoral actions!

With the Lost-Hope-nhagen conference, the politicians merely acting for audiences, it’s worth reminding everyone of another Scandinavian play "(An|The) Enemy of the People", more than 120 years old, written by Henrik Ibsen, perhaps looking at an old post of mine about the play, or look at Wikipedia.

When you read, simply replace "Doctor Stockmann" with "Scientific Community", and "tannery polluting the local spas that are the town’s cash cow", with "Big Carbon interests destroying the planet for illusory economic benefit", and you’ll think it was a current affairs re-enactment of what is going on today.

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Posted in Arts, Environment, Politics | Leave a Comment »

It ain’t over ’til the dead budgie sings

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-05-26

I know that the subjects and plots of opera can get a little bit tedious, and indeed far fetched (apart from "Kill the Wabbit!  Kill the Wabbit!… Poor little Bunny!", perhaps), but one about a dead budgie based on a bird-food commercial?!?!

Michael Nyman’s music is ok for a modern, but after his best-known music being introduced to most listeners with a voiceover by a mute, and this newer effort about a budgie, you’ve got to hope he finds someone who can write a decent libretto soon.

C’mon, there must be a million Stephen King short stories that would make better subjects – and surely those shorts provide lots of opportunities for the obligatory 5-minute aria "I’ve just been killed instantly"…

…that or Nyman could write an opera about chocolate, just like Bach wrote a cantata about coffee (and pre-nup agreements).

Posted in Arts | Leave a Comment »

Mahler warns about his music

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-05-07

The erudite and often hilarious Language Log demonstrates a bucket load of reasons why I (and perhaps anyone with an ear attuned to Bach) should hate Mahler.

"Mahler’s score markings" (2009-05-06) gives "accurate" translations of the directions in his manuscripts – which explains why Mahler sounds like Mahler does.

This covers a translation of various Mahler instructions by a professor of modern linguistics and second violinist in an orchestra – a translation also noted by the New Yorker music reviewer.

My anti-favorite because it makes no logical sense is:

Somewhat louder, though still inaudible as before

But the what-it-should-sound-like instructions are even more damning:

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Posted in Arts, Humor, Language Use | 1 Comment »

Keyboards – one handed and four limbed

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-04-16

My thoughts wandered across modern versus old instruments, disability, and something best termed "implied choreography" the other day, when my daughter broke down and wept as I did a walking bass under a munged "Fü Elise" to my grandson, and morphed Pachelbel’s Canon via a minor key and into "Puff the Magic Dragon".

(If you want resources for disabled piano-players, skip down to the notes at the bottom of this post.)

Regular readers will know my daughter was recently in a car accident, all the nerves in her right arm insulted by a broken humerus, and while she is getting some movement and sense back in her fingers and thumb, the wrist is still useless, and there are no twinges in the muscles required to give a "thumbs up" or Vulcan "live long and prosper" salute.

Hence my daughter’s crying when seeing my grandson enjoying himself.  Will she ever be able to play her flute or recorder to him?  Maybe not.  Guitar she’ll be able to do something with, as her left hand is unaffected, but she was really distressed by the piano.

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Posted in Arts, Society | 3 Comments »

A decent operatic heroine

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-03-13

Whether male or female, it’s probably hard to find operatic heroine who you can relate to.  They are either overly sentimental, stupid, cow-eyed, just plain vicious… or all of them!

So, I recommend an 18th century opera (or being pedantic, a cantata generally performed like an opera) about a woman seeking a pre-nuptial agreement… to be allowed to drink lots and lots of coffee.

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Posted in Arts | 1 Comment »

Solidarity with Kiwi Internetters

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-02-20

A reminder about solidarity with our kiwi cousins who are facing their own heavy-handed internet clampdown, so are blacking out facebook/myspace/twitter profiles (and their blogs if they can get to stylesheets) by Monday, when new copyright laws come into action.

It’s basically guilt by accusation, having your internet connection pulled, and no due process if someone "reports" you as a file-sharer of something someone doesn’t like – mainly to suit the big media companies.

My facebook profile is blacked out, I’ve joined Creative Freedom Foundation on Facebook, and urge you to do something similar.

The "Blackout" is supported by New Zealand media creators.

Coming to an Australian internet connection near you… probably

Posted in Arts, Economics and Business, Information Management, International, Media, New Zealand, Politics | 3 Comments »

Valentine: 4th July, Al Capone, and more Tom Lehrer

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-02-14

A few words on an Australian perspective of Valentine’s Day, and the problem with special days for modified behaviour that are desirable the year around, as so well described by Tom Lehrer (video links below, as well as to lots of other versions of Lehrer’s songs on YouTube)

The Feast of St Valentine became well-known in 19th century United States, and promoted by greeting card manufacturers  Any association with love on that day before the middle ages was with the Roman (and earlier Greek) Lupercalia (from lupus=wolf), which was a fertility festival where lots of young males run around naked, with perhaps the best modern equivalent of such practices being the Sydney Mardi Gras.

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Posted in Arts, Education, Humor, Science and Tech, Society | 7 Comments »

WOW! The impossible is now real!

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-01-22

Do yourself a favor and go through the slideshow at Scientific American called "Sculpting the Impossible: Solid Renditions of Visual Illusions" (2009-01-21) – no trick photography or image manipulation involved.

Lego version of Eschers Relativity

Lego version of Escher's ''Relativity''

Now look at the lithograph it is based on: "Relativity" by M.C. Escher.

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Posted in Arts, Humor, Science and Tech | 7 Comments »

Politicians don’t “get” Herodotos et al

Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-01-07

The Grauniad published a great piece on Herodotos a few days back, which I heartily recommend.

There was one aspect of The Histories that Charlotte Higgins missed:

Herodotos posited that the local land and weather are significant determinants of a society (which is why he’d go all geographical at the start of a discussion many particular civilizations), and this would in turn drive the currents of history and the clashes between empires.

Our political leaders are yet to grasp this basic insight, even though according to many, we’ve already had our first climate-change war (in Darfur/Sudan) and rainfall patterns could be used to predict violent conflict (New Scientist, "Rainfall records could warn of war", 2007-05-30).

The de-facto climate-change denialism (despite his rhetoric) of KRudd for short-term political gain proves that the most critical person in Oz who should understand Herodotos for his job, doesn’t.

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Posted in Arts, Australia, Environment, History, Politics | Leave a Comment »

Something Conroy might block – Pottery and Plato

Posted by Dave Bath on 2008-12-21

Over the fold is a link to the front cover of a book published by the University of Illinois, and links to some wikipedia pages, all entirely legitimate in my view, but which Senator Conroy could well want filtered from our internet, especially in the light of a recent court decision in NSW about a Simpsons-esque image.

Both provide learned discussion and archaeological images relating to the "erastes" (ἐραστής), the classical Greek "mentor" of the "eromenos" (ἐρώμενος).  I won’t display the famous images in the post (which depict actions between two people rather than merely one person striking a pose), just follow the links.  Note that many more explicit images are scattered throughout museum catalogs and textbooks from Oxford and Cambridge Uni Press, as well as Penguin.

I’m pretty sure that something like this was in the collection I took my then pre-school daughter to see when the best pieces of antiquity from the British Museum came to Melbourne (although she preferred the big statues and bas-reliefs to boring old pottery).

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Posted in Arts, Australia, Civil rights, Education, Politics | 2 Comments »

Something for non-Christian fans of Bach’s sacred music

Posted by Dave Bath on 2008-11-23

A couple of questions for readers that might push some types of posts and some of my hobby work:

  • How many of you are Bach fans?
  • How many of you Bach fans are not Christians, but love his sacred music?
  • How many of those people would like “sacriligeous” versions with the vocals replaced by instruments?

If any of you fit into any of these categories, try the MP3 files over the fold that I’ve generated (mainly with Rosegarden Linux Midi Editor), add comments with criticism or praise (especially voting for which of my renderings you like the most), and I’ll take it into account when preparing more tracks at home and uploading them for you.

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Posted in Arts | 8 Comments »

When art says something troubling

Posted by Dave Bath on 2008-11-21

More dangerous than the Henson exhibition to some people’s view of what civil society is and should be is an exhibition currently open in the US.  It goes to the heart of civil rights… and I’m not talking about censorship.

Have a look at the pictures.  Anyone care to comment about the aesthetic?  (They remind me vaguely of something Asian, with the Panbanisha seeming distinctly calligraphic.)  Details of the artists and more paintings over the fold, although I can say their talents may be familial: Kanzi and Panbanisha share a parent.

Pillow Painting by Kanzi

"Pillow Painting" by Kanzi

Untitled by Panbanisha

"Untitled" by Panbanisha

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Posted in Arts, Civil rights, Environment, Science and Tech | 2 Comments »

So you think you can dance, geek!

Posted by Dave Bath on 2008-11-21

While I’m a dance-blind geek (when young and choreographed, I could dance in a chorus line, but I’ve never been able to "read" dance), it was worth watching a Gonzo Labs Dance Competition for Ph.D. theses.

The videos of the dances are available on YouTube.

The winner from the Garvin Research Centre in Sydney, playing "The Sugar Plum Fairy" from the "Nutcracker", danced "The role of vitamin D in beta cell function"

Anyway… here is a selection from the top contestants as judged by professional dance teachers and the popularity on YouTube.

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Posted in Arts, Science and Tech | Leave a Comment »

Art monthly, the MRI, and the kid’s museum

Posted by Dave Bath on 2008-07-11

The the populist furore over art and p**n, I wonder if images such as this taken in an MRI for legitimate scientific purposes will become prohibited.  (Hat tip Pharyngula)

I also wonder if one of my daughter’s favorite exhibits (when she was pre-school) in the old Melbourne museum (dunno if the exhibit is in the new museum) will become prohibited.  While she liked the live bees in the glass hive, and the unrolled gut with “poo” (and sounds) coming out the end, she also really liked the lifesized naked statues of children, parents (one in a wheelchair) and grandparents, with kids encouraged, as with all other exhibits in the Children’s Museum, to touch and learn.

And what about books to teach children about their bodies and how they change?  Will they be banned, or only able to be sold to librarians.

<sarcasm>Maybe we should simply make all children where the Hijab</sarcasm>.

Posted in Arts, Australia, Politics, Science and Tech, Society | 2 Comments »

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