Monday, 31 December 2018

Earth from Space - NASA Live Stream



I know 
it's another forlorn wish . . . 
but even so I put it out there

Sunday, 30 December 2018

A Reflection at the Year's Turning

1920 - 2018

She walks in beauty, like the night

Of cloudless climes and starry skies; 

And all that's best of dark and bright

Meets in her aspect and her eyes, 

Thus mellowed to that tender light 

Which heaven to gaudy day denies. 

One shade the more, one ray the less,

Had half impaired the nameless grace

Which waves in every raven tress,

Or softly lightens o'er her face; 

Where thoughts serenely sweet express,

How pure, how dear their dwelling-place. 

And on that cheek, and o'er that brow,

So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,

The smiles that win, the tints that glow,

But tell of days in goodness spent,

A mind at peace with all below,

A heart whose love is innocent.

- Byron -

Friday, 28 December 2018

My Best Film Poster of 2018

Went to see it yesterday.  The scene in the poster is the film's climax when a mountain of plastic is set on fire - computer screens, televisions, and other rubbish.  It follows a scene where a baby girl is born and her family wish her a better future.

The inhabitants of Sodom come and go. At any time there will be found 6,000 people scavenging in a semi-organized way. It is the only way many can survive. Others are there to hide.

A gay Jewish man who used to be a doctor and read Shakespeare lives in Sodom for fear that the Muslims will behead him. He has nowhere else to go. He says he will die there.

There is no commentary to the film. It is merely the protagonists who speak.

Many dream of Libya and the route to Italy.

The whole dirty business is illegal.

No policeman or other authority will ever set foot in Sodom.

It's the proverbial blind eye, or the three monkeys, whatever you like.

A hard film to watch.

Thursday, 27 December 2018


The exhibition at the Bank Austria Kunstforum (until 20th January 2019) is devoted to the influence of Japanese Art on European artists like Klimt, Degas and Lautrec to name just three.

A happy discovery for me was the Prague-born Emil Orlik (1870 - 1932).  One of his Japanese woodcuts is the third one down.

 '36 Views of Mount Fuji' - Katsushika Hokusai 1830
'Under the Wave at Kanagawa'

 '36 Views of Mount Fuji' - Katsushika Hokusai 1830
'Tama River in Musashi Province'

'Japanese Pilgrims on Way to Fujiama' - Emil Orlik 1901

I can imagine that European artist Henri Riviere (1864 -1951) drew inspiration from Katsushika Housai for he titled his 1902 series '36 Views of the Eiffel Tower'.

For copyright reasons I don't have any of Henri's Eiffel Tower pictures to show you.

Van Gogh's 'Butterflies and Poppies' on loan from Amsterdam was on show, and there were a couple of quotes from Vincent on the wall nearby, including this one: 

I envy the Japanese the extraordinarily clear clarity pervading their works. It is never boring and never seems to have been done in haste. It is as simple as breathing.

'Butterflies and Poppies' 1889
Vincent Van Gogh 

A famous and mysterious work to be seen was this:

'The Red Cow' 1889
Paul Gaugin 

It's a real mystery, that  decapitated cow.

Even the two 'experts' I watched on YouTube didn't have an answer.

Tuesday, 25 December 2018

Resolute Time Travellers

Looking ahead with Albert

Should we make New Year's resolutions?    If so, why?    If not, why not? 

  As we mark the time a few apposite words from Mr. E.
and others.I will add to them as the year ticks to its close.

Nota bene - Time travellers are already 4 days into the new year!!!!

There is no particle at the source; particles do not create other particles. (Einstein)

Everything is Energy and that's all there is to it.  (Einstein)

What is the summum bonum of knowledge? (It) is understanding what I am.

All people smile in the same language.

The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are 

evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it.  (Einstein)

Sunday, 23 December 2018

It's going to be a warm Christmas with or without you

In space we are not alone.

On the Red Planet the polar ice caps are melting.

There is enough locked-up ice to cover the Martian surface with water up to a depth of 11 meters.

Since measurements began in the late 1970s the Martian temperature has increased by 0.86 Celsius.

Dust  storms  covering up to 40% of the Martian surface reflect heat back into space.

Other planets affected by climate change include Jupiter (+10 Celsius) and Pluto (+1 Celsius). Neptune's largest moon Triton has seen an increase of 2 Celsius.

The Sun is also experiencing global warming.  The temperature of the Sun's radiation has increased by 0.5 Celsius every decade since the late 1970s, a figure which fits exactly into the context of a warming up of the whole Universe.

What is the Universe? A sidebar link to the Electric Universe website is my Christmas present to visitors here.

Sources: NASA, The Carl Sagan Centre, Kronen Zeitung, Electric Universe Thunderbolts Project.

Saturday, 22 December 2018

It's what Les would say

Disruption at London's second busiest international airport as 110,000 passengers found themselves unable to travel due to flights being cancelled due to illegal drone activity.

The chaos was brought to an end with the deployment of specialist equipment by the military and the arrest of a middle aged couple by the police.

Mr L Dawson of Manchester tweeted:

"Couples will do anything to avoid Christmas with the mother in law."

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

The 18%

A Gallup poll published in my morning paper reports that only 18% of German would be prepared to take up arms to defend their country. The figure for the USA is 44%.  India is 75% and Pakistan is 89%.

Between them the countries of Germany, France, USA, Russia and China export 75% of the world's weapons of war.

Sunday, 16 December 2018

31st European Film Prizes

Best film - Cold War

Best comedy  -  Death of Stalin

Best documentary  -  Bergman, a year in a life

Best film by new talent  -  Girl

Best actor  -  Marcello Fonte.  Dogman

Best actress. -  Joanna Kulig.  Cold War

Best film music. -  3 days in Quiberon

Best camera. -  Utoya 22nd July.

   The only one I've seen of the above is the film about Bergman.  Or more correctly, I saw a film earlier in the year about Bergman and I'm making the assumption that it was that.

   I hadn't realized that The Death of Stalin is a comedy.  As I'm an incurable fool when it comes to comedy I'm looking forward to that one.

   Disappointed that Lazzaro which was shortlisted didn't win anything but it was a laugh out loud comedy in many parts. Perhaps the judges were a little confused by the abrupt ending?

   For me, three or four films to look out for. I think a couple of them may be showing here already.

   I'll put them in my Christmas stocking!

   Hope you enjoy the European films in 2019.  

Saturday, 15 December 2018

Dear Mr Juncker . . .

the main reason the continent of Europe exists today as a political entity and not as a thousand year Reich where the jackbooted man rules with a cruel hand is due to the exemplary leadership of this man, the British people who stood alone for 18 months against the German tyrant and his Nazi cohorts, and the Commonwealth friends and exiled Europeans who joined us to save Europe from permanent darkness and the forces of evil.

 His name is Winston Spencer Churchill.

Sir Winston Churchill - saviour of civilization

According to the reliable EU website 'EU Observer' you said that some of the prime ministers at the EU Brexit summit are guilty of spreading fake news.

You homed in on the Hungarian PM as your example.

You said: "When Mr Orban for example is saying that I am responsible, guilty for the Brexit: fake news."

That was you wrapping up the two day summit on 14th December.

I just have one question for you Mr Juncker.

Who has been in charge of the EU since 2014?

Definitely not Mr Orban or some of the prime ministers.  

And it certainly wasn't Mr Orban and some of the other prime ministers you refer to who tossed the immigration laws into the trash can and came up with an alternative without consulting the people of Europe was it? The motive of certain persons remains unclear. Nebulous to use your own word.

In my humble opinion the whole Brexit scenario could have been avoided if the EU had made the much needed reforms instead of rushing headlong in the wrong direction under your leadership.

It is little wonder that much of Europe is leaning to the right.  Mr Orban and other prime ministers can see the danger looming.  

The EU project depends on newspeak and a mountain of legislation that nobody has time to read and decipher. They may get round to reading it and decoding its intricacies when it's too late. 

I'll explain the term newspeak if you like, Mr Juncker.

So what can we do to save the situation?

I would suggest you get yourself over to London on the next plane and offer to negotiate properly with the British Prime Minister.

You and your 27 owe a debt to Britain that you can never hope to repay.

God Save the Queen

Friday, 14 December 2018

Urinal as art?

It happened once that 500 art experts voted a urinal as one of the most important artworks of the 20th century.

Recently I saw this artifact in an exhibition of artworks and I wondered what other commonplace object ought to be designated as an important artwork.

What about an igloo? It also has a curved and attractive shape.

And you could hang this picture inside.  

Or how about a wooden Father Christmas ornament? Also suitable for the home.

Or if you'd prefer it, a book with a portrait on the cover?

Or some bags of cement? Not much use in an igloo.

A bicycle to hang a wall? This one is in a hotel reception area. It fills a space.

Off-piste* here's a Jean Claude Juncker presidential greeting. Pass me a paper bag please, I feel quite queasy.

Jean Claude cut it out.  I'm trying to eat my pizza!

What about a photo of the Empress Elisabeth of Austria?

And a beach hut away from it all?

Here's the Union Flag!   How proudly I carried it for my team at the European Masters Mountain Running Championships 2012 in Austria.  To me the British flag is a work of art and a symbol for freedom and democracy.

It is far superior to the humble urinal which 500 experts thought to be important. And you can't say that about every national flag in the world.

*We've been neglecting the humble hyphen Rachel. 

It's good to check.

I decided to check.

The result was as exactly as I expected.

One of my two mail addresses (my global one on the far side of the pond) had been hacked.

I've closed the account.

 My other had not.

I'm glad I checked.

You can check yours HERE

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Va, Pensiero

Guiseppe Verdi (1813 - 1901)

Nabucco (Nebuchadnezzar) is the opera which brought the composer fame and the opera in which he "gave expression to his countrymen's aspirations towards the liberty of self-government which had never yet been theirs.

"No Italian who heard 'Va, pensiero' could fail to identify himself with the exiles . . . "  (Kobe's Opera Book edited by the Earl of Harewood).

Yesterday evening's performance in the Vienna State Opera was conducted by Maestro Paolo Carignani with Luc Salsi in the title role and Liudmyla Monastyrska as Abigaille. 'Va pensiero' featured the Chor der Wienerstaatsoper. 

The above rendition of 'Va, pensiero' conducted Maestro Ricardo Mutti before an Italian audience in Milan is quite remarkable as you will see if  you watch it all the way to the end . . .

Enjoy on YouTube.

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Reasons . . . (Part 3)

   Your body belongs to you and nobody else.
A lot of people don't seem to know that.

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Reasons . . . (Part 2)

Here in civilized Europe millions of young Ferkel 
are routinely castrated without the use of anesthetic. 
Will 2019 see the end of it? Man is a cruel creature.

Reasons to be Fearful: Part One

Top Line: German Exports to France in €billions.
Bottom Line: French Exports to Germany in €billions.
The Berlin-Paris Axis?

Hot Spots

The Future is Now.

Electric Universe. Follow the Electric Universe or be left in the dark.

Mr Lincoln Reflects

Monday, 10 December 2018

The Other Very Big Problem for France

At the outset I will point out that I am an agnostic.

Until mankind discovers a giant brain hovering in space and silently communicating its thoughts to sentient beings here on Earth it's the only way I believe I can go.

If I have to have a prophet his name is Carl Sagan.

I have always preferred unvarnished facts.  The following information is sourced and was published in the morning paper. The red colour was used in the paper. And so I've kept it.

Recently the European Agency for Fundamental Rights surveyed 16,000 Jewish people living in 12 European countries.

One of the questions they  asked:

Is anti-semitism against Jews in your country of residence a very big problem.

Here is the result:


FRANCE    65%


SPAIN  30% 

ITALY  21%


Interesting to see that Jewish people feel less fearful  in so-called populist Italy than in socialist Sweden was one of my first thoughts.

Yet, this should come as no surprise.

Not long ago I read an article in which it was mentioned that Italy's Mr Salvini was Europe's most popular  politician.

On the other side of the coin with only 18% of the French public supporting him the ex-Rothschild investment banker (as described on ORF1 news by French reporter in Paris) Macron is well into the red at the political credibility bank.

It's a very big problem for France.

You may note that Merkel's Germany and Michel's Belgium (joint 2nd place) are following the French trend.

On a lighter note I enjoyed this cartoon in the morning paper. I actually heard myself laughing out loud having turned to it.

It's going to rain. I can feel it in your bones.

Sunday, 9 December 2018

Modern Architecture


Cityscape (1) with "Machines for living in"

Cityscape (2) with "Machines for Living in"


South Africa


Cityscape (3) with "Machines for Living in"

Cityscape (4) with "Machines for living in"

"A house is a machine for living in"

Sagmeister & Walsh: Beauty: MAK Vienna (until 31 March 2019)

Thursday, 6 December 2018


The film begins with some alarming statistics regarding the spread of female genital mutilation. It's not just a problem in Africa or in Arab lands. It's a problem in Europe too. Not least in countries like Great Britain and Germany. In fact, as the film says, it is now a world problem.  

Five "courageous, intelligent and independent women break the taboos of silence and shame that their societies and/or their religions with their archaic and patriarchal structures have imposed upon them. 

"With incredible positive energy and strength Deborah Feldman, Leyla Hussein, Rokudenashiko, Doris Wagner and Vithika Yadav" courageously show the way forward. 

In the picture above a group Kenyan women courageously decide to break with tradition and form a circle which cannot be broken. They will spare their daughters the shame and pain of female genital mutilation. 

The technical details of the ancient Egyptian practice were effectively demonstrated using a giant vagina moulded from different colours of plasticine was presented and cut to pieces by a woman armed with a knife and a pair of giant scissors.

First comes a so-called "grade 1 cut" where the clitoris is removed and finally a "grade 3 cut" where the whole vagina is removed and the subsequent hole is tied up with string and a giant needle to make it smaller. 

The shock and horror on the faces of the young men who witnessed the demonstration was surely a sign of hope. 

One muslim woman said: I don't know which mutilation I had to undergo. I've never had the courage to look. 

Deborah Feldman, a member of a Jewish sect forced into an arranged marriage, told how for years she hadn't seen her own body since she was a child. She had to dress and undress so that "not even the ceiling would see" her body.  At the end of the film she walks into the sea clad in a holy garment that only a Jewish man is allowed to wear. With this act of defiance she claims back her own body. 

Doris Wagner, a one time nun, tells how she was raped by members of Roman Catholic clergy. 
And how her two letters to the pope went unanswered. 

The Japanese artist, Rokudenashiko, takes impressions of her vagina. and with the aid of a 3D copier constructs a plastic boat in the shape of a vagina. She is charged with obscenity. And has to appear before the court. In her defence she points to the myriad of sex toys on sale throughout Japan. The judge rules that her vagina boat is an example of pop art.  One small victory for common sense. 

In India, where women are beaten and raped every day, there's a festival where men walk through the streets with a giant penis.  A counter movement is started by Vithika Yadav. With street theatre and red t-shirts they bring their situation to public attention. 

The above are just a few examples of women's courage taken from the film #FEMALEPLEASURE. Hopefully we will soon witness a new dawn for millions of women and their daughters. And for future evolution of all mankind. 

You can go to the official trailer via the link below. 

# FEMALE PLEASURE (Official Trailer)

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

With the Train to Brno (Moravia / CZ)

Taking advantage of the final days of my ÖBB special train ticket I went to Brno to see the Welsh National Opera's performance of Janacek's House of the Dead.  And that I enjoyed it very much almost goes without saying. 

Leos Janacek in his garden

Of ourse there were other things so see and do in the Czech Republic's second largest city (pop: 400,000).

One thing was to visit the Maravska Gallery's exhibition and admire the works by the Czech artist Josef Sima (1891 Jaromer - 1971 Paris).  The first two pictures shown here are from the artist's early work.

The Train

A person writing on a table
 The cafe' scene painting below is from the artist's Paris period. Id guess it's from the time Sima  founded Le Grand Jeu movement in 1927 together with young French poets.

In Brno it was already Christmas and the streets were thronged with crowds and seasonal lights, the air was filled with the aroma of hot wine and sounds of jollity:

Freedom Square

City Hall

Thomas Edison's Lightbulbs
 The weather was suitably seasonal:

The Cabbage Market 

Nativity Scene

Central Railway Station 
I had a great time. Thank you Brno!

Checking the Score