Saturday, November 05, 2022

SATURDAY NIGHT ALTERED IMAGES, BIG AUDIO DYNAMITE.

Altered Images with Don't talk me about love. Album Bite (1983).





Scottish new wave/postpunk band from Glasgow. Founded in 1979 and, despite a couple of breakups, still around! Singer's Clare Grogan.



Big Audio Dynamite with E=mc2. From the album This is Big Audio Dynamite (1985).





Formed in London in 1984 by Mick Jones, singer and guitarist. Also ex The Clash, from which he was fired in 1983.



Hat tip for both OutlawDaughter. Would you believe it!


Slaap wel.



MFBB.

Sunday, October 09, 2022

SUNDAY NIGHT ART SNACK: PEDER MORK MONSTED (1859-1941).

Peder Mørk Mønsted (10 December 1859 – 20 June 1941) was a talented Danish landscape painter in the realistic style, although some works show impressionist influences.



Green spring landscape with a sitting child at the edge of the beach (1887)




An ardent traveller, especially in the Mediterranean (Algeria, Greece, Egypt...), he produced countless sketches during these travels which he later developed into paintings. He was especially popular in Germany, where he displayed several times in Munichs Glaspalast (destroyed in a fire in 1931).



Wooded river landscape (1929)




Good night.



MFBB.

Saturday, October 01, 2022

SATURDAY NIGHT THE ALAN PARSONS PROJECT, MAC DEMARCO.

The Alan Parsons Project with Silence and I. From the album Eye in the Sky (1982).





English multi-instrumentalist rock band around Alan Parsons and Eric Woolfson, active between 1975 and 1990.



Mac DeMarco with Chamber of Reflection. From the album Salad Days (2014).





Canadian singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist (often vintage) and producer.


Slaap wel.



MFBB.

Saturday, May 21, 2022

SATURDAY NIGHT METRONOMY, OUTKAST.

Metronomy with Corinne. Album The English Riviera (2011)





English electronic music band, founded by Joseph Mount in 1999. Hat tip OutlawDaughter.



Outkast with Hey Ya!. Released as a single in 2003.





American hiphop duo which formed in East Point, Georgia, in 1992. Hat tip OutlawDaughter again.



Nite.



MFBB.

Sunday, May 08, 2022

SUNDAY NIGHT ART SNACK: LEONARD CAMPBELL TAYLOR (1874-1969).

Leonard Campbell Taylor RA (12 December 1874 – 1 July 1969) was a British painter, mainly of portraits and interiors in a traditional style. During World War 1, he served as an official war artist.


Women playing chess



Exquisite! More on Taylor here.



MFBB.

Tuesday, May 03, 2022

MAY 2ND, 2022.

It's been eleven years already since my father died.





For many of my in memoriams I've been using Bachs beautiful "Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ" (BWV 639). And I would have done it again this time, were it not for a conversation on Twitter I had with a friend of mine whose father, too, passed away, just one week ago. That friend was asking for suggestions for musical accompaniments during the church service.


I did suggest BWV 639, but then my friend himself wondered whether Bedrich Smetana's Ma Vlast would be okay as the final musical piece, when the coffin is carried outside...


...and it suddenly sounded like a good idea to me! Not for its length, because it's a full twelve minutes, too long for this intended purpose, although you could truncate it at the 5th minute or thereabouts...


... but for its inherent optimism, and why not? For Christians, Death is not the end.


On this humble blog of mine I do not face the same constraints as the pastor who may suspect - rightfully - that many churchgoers would not be, ah, at ease with a twelve minute composition at the end of the service. So... this In Memoriam will, for once, have Ma Vlast as an homage to the excellent human being my father was:





Rest in Peace, father. You are not forgotten.



MFBB.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

THE DISMAL PERFORMANCE OF THE RUSSIAN ARMED FORCES IN UKRAINE.

I can't make any sense of it. The Russians are failing on all counts. What's most obvious is that they are failing on the operational level, what with the ubiquitous footage of T-72s with their turrets blown of, charred hulks of APC's, dead bodies of Russian soldiers... and Ukrainian tractors towing away Putins tanks and mobile artillery.


Less obvious, but even more damning for the way Russia is waging this war, is the absolute failure on the strategic level. For over 60 days on end now, the Russian war machine has tried to engage the UA Army on a half-ring front beginning just west of Kiev and extending clockwise around Ukraine's eastern portion until Kherson. In the process, numerous Russian units have broken their teeth trying to neutralize city centers. During all of this, they allowed the free flow of all that is necessary for a modern army to fight from west to east - which doubtlessly happened during the night.

But if they had not wasted all those efforts in absurd and costly battles and instead staged two strong attacks, one towards the south from their foothold just West of Kiev and the other northwards from Kherson, they would have cut off that lifeline and bagged not only all of the UA Army in the east, but in the process strangled the defenses of Kiev and the other big cities as well. They don't know their own history anymore, for this area was once the scene of another big encirclement which cost them 600,000 troops with all their equipment.


Other failures presented themselves in not taking out all of the UA Air Force on Day 1, which, given the Russian Air Force's far bigger size, should have been possible to achieve. Then there is attacking just prior to the onset of Rasputista, turning Ukraines famous Black Earth, frozen until half February, into an impassable quagmire and confining even tanks to roads.


Let Michael Kofman weigh in now:





I don't know how this will turn out, but I hope the lines of communication between the West and Russia remain open, because barring a miracle, I fail to see how Russia can extricate itself from its self-inflicted disaster and still pretend it has 'achieved' its goals. Mounting losses and getting nowhere may lead the Russian top brass to employ tactical nukes, and when that happens... the road to Nuclear Armageddon lies wide open.


In light of all this, the EU's pathetic rushing of the process to accept UA's membership is utterly foolish. Instead, it should shut up now and keep quiet... while, instead of raking the fires of discontent and frustration n Moscow even higher, working quietly on a diplomatic way out of this mess for Putin so that he can save his sorry face - although the bastard by no means deserves it.



MFBB.

Sunday, April 17, 2022

HAPPY EASTER 2022!

DowneastBlog wishes all its readers of good will a Happy Easter!





The painting, oil on wood, is part of a tableau in a chapel in the main church, Saint Bartholomew, of my birthplace.



MFBB.

Saturday, April 16, 2022

SATURDAY NIGHT KACEY MUSGRAVES, PERTURBATOR.

Kacey Musgraves with Oh, what a world. Album Golden Hour (2018).





"Modern Country" singer/songwriter from Golden, Texas. Hat tip OutlawDaughter.



Death Squad van Perturbator. From the 2016 album The Uncanny Valley.





Despite his real name, James Kent, Perturbator is a frog. Synthwaver from Paris. Hat tip OutlawSon.



Good night.



MFBB.

Sunday, March 27, 2022

SUNDAY NIGHT ARCHITECTURE SNACK: LOUIS SULLIVAN BUILDINGS.

Louis Henry Sullivan (September 3, 1856 – April 14, 1924), one of the torchbearers of the Chicago School, has been called both a "father of skyscrapers" and the "father of modernism". He coined the phrase "Form Follows Function". Some projects:


First, the Prudential (Guaranty) Building in Buffalo, New York. Completed in 1896. Sullivan designed it together with Dankmar Adler.





The Wainwright Building, St Louis, Missouri (completed 1891). Also with Adler. Steel skeleton, brick walls, terracotta ornaments:





The Sullivan Center, formerly the Carson, Pirie, Scott and Company Store (1899), a solo project by Sullivan.





Good night.



MFBB.

Saturday, March 26, 2022

ONE MONTH OF WAR IN EUROPE...

By now it's been over one month since Russia's invasion of Ukraine started, and the fact that Europe now lives through its second biggest war since World War Two is no less real than on Day One. Here are some exerpts, courtesy The Washington Post, from an account by "Alex", a 38-year old volunteer with humanitarian aid in Chernihiv, a north Ukrainian town under siege by the Russian Army:


"From what I understand, they hit the water pipes and cut them off. Almost the whole city was without water for almost two days. Just this evening, the water began to flow slowly, at least in some areas. There is also no heating or electricity in most of the city. The Hotel Ukraine building was completely destroyed by an airstrike. Just last night, three Russian bomber planes hit the city and one was shot down. The humanitarian corridor is still not there. There is no passage via the Kyiv-Chernihiv highway. People who try to leave drive through a very strange and scary route on mud roads toward Anysiv. Many people do not have gas. In the courtyards of houses, people are gathering and lighting fires, cooking some kind of soup in large pots. Because there is no electricity, no gas, no heating. The grocery stores are running out of supplies. Finding meat or dairy is unrealistic. It’s a catastrophic situation with baby food. People bring some things into the city but it is in very small quantities and brought by desperate drivers under shelling along the road. So they bring medicine, baby food and diapers. But pharmacies are empty. The lines are so long, so even if you manage to get to the counter it doesn’t mean you’re going to get what you need there, because it may not just be there. The military still seems to think the city will not be taken. Multiple rocket launchers continue to shell the city. There are many unexploded shells — they are sticking out from the gardens, roofs and in the yards of houses. But on the positive side, since yesterday, our connection and the Internet are getting a little better..."



More troubling testimonies here, again per The Washington Post:





Possibly no Ukrainian city exemplifies wanton and senseless destruction more than Mariupol in the south:





But one month of a horrible, unnecessary war has brought us, apart from the upheaval, death and destruction also knowledge...


...it doesn't take professionally trained analysts to conclude that, as happened so often in the past, the mighty Russian War Machine is prone to serious flaws and gross inefficiency. Huge errors have been made, and massive flaws emerged, and this both on the strategic and tactival levels. Russia may still win this brutal contest on account of its superior numbers. But those in the Kremlin cannot fail to fear that the West will conclude that in a war with a peer adversary, the Russian Army would get its balls handed to it on a silver platter.



MFBB.

Sunday, March 20, 2022

SUNDAY NIGHT ART SNACK: JOHN LAVERY, CECIL OSBORNE.

Sir John Lavery RA RSA RHA (20 March 1856 – 10 January 1941) was an Irish painter from Belfast, best known for his portraits and wartime depictions.



The Bridge at Grès (1901)




Influenced by Whistler. In 1924 elected to the Royal Academy.



Cecil Osborne (1909–1996) was a self-taught natural painter from Poplar, East London.



Sunday Morning, Farringdon Road (1929)




An echo of Hopper here. Osborne studied in the evenings at John Cooper’s Bow and Bromley Evening Institute classes, and exhibited with the East London Group at Lefevre Gallery, also with NEAC, RA and Civil Defence Artists’ Association at Cooling’s Gallery.



Click on the images to get an unobstructed view please. Good night.



MFBB.

Saturday, March 19, 2022

SATURDAY NIGHT JOHNNY MARR, SURVIVOR.

Johnny Marr, ex The Smiths, ex The The, ex Electronic, with New Town Velocity. From his 2013 debut solo album The Messenger.





Arguably one of the greatest British guitarist of the past 30 years. Hat tip OutlawDaughter.



Survivor with Burning Heart. From the album with the soundtrack for the movie Rocky IV (1985).





Chicagoan band formed in 1978 by Jim Peterik and Frankie Sullivan. The lead singer for this number is Jimi Jamison, who had joined the year before. Burning Heart was a smash hit, peakin at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in early 1986.


Good night, but save a prayer and some money for the Ukrainians.



MFBB.

Saturday, March 12, 2022

STALEMATE IN UKRAINE?

If the past three weeks in Ukraine have proven anything it's that the much vaunted Russian War Machine is still prone to the same old errors its historical predecessors were (in)famous for. As in the past, the Russian military top brass have again shown themselves to be slow learners and fast forgetters. The performance of the Russian army in Ukraine is eerily reminiscent of another invasion of a weaker neighbour possessing numerically far inferior forces - which nevertheless acquitted themselves well. I am talking about the Winter War of 1939-1940, when the USSR invaded tiny Finland, yet got its armies clobbered by small Finnish units almost devoid of armour.





Certainly, what is noteworthy of the conflict is the emerging role of tank busting drones. At the start of the conflict, the Ukrainian military reportedly boasted an altogether modest force of 12 Turkish-made Bayraktar drones, but in three weeks of combat these exacted a heavy toll:





Just like in World War Two, Russian commanders make the same obvious tactical errors time and again, like e.g. lining up their armor in neat rows on obvious avenues of approach. See for yourself the effect of Ukrainian artillery:





But old habits die hard, and among those is the deliberate, blind use of brutal power when things don't go according to plan:





It is hard to fathom how the war in Ukraine - Europe's biggest one since World War Two - will develop from here. The Ukrainian military has shown remarkable resilience, helped in no small part by their sky high morale. That of their adversaries may very well be vastly lower. I suppose even ardent chauvinist Russian troopers will have a hard time kidding themselves that they are fighting for a good cause. Next, while generally armor on both sides is roughly similar, the steady supply of modern, man-portable Western weaponry like the British Javelins and NLAWS, or the German Panzerfaust 3, has the potential to turn into a game changer. It can no longer be denied that these weapons are exacting a heavy toll on Russian armour.


Even so, I fear that in the end numbers will tell the tale. If you put a welter boxer against a heavyweight, the former may initially score a number of successes... but ultimately, the heavyweight will have the upper hand. At some point, Russians forces may elect to bypass Kiev and simply push south, while those at Kherson may advance north. When they join up, they will have bagged an enormous chunk of the Ukrainian military in an area that has seen a mass encirclement before.


A possible scenario thereafter is that the remaining UA forces conduct a fighting withdrawal to the West, where they either may make a brave last stand, or else perform so well that the Russians consider the cost of subduing them simply too high and allow them to keep Western Ukraine. All the while, Putins divisions may have to cope with isolated small pockets and an insurgency behind their backs.


As dreadful as these scenarios sound, I fear that for the West the sending of weaponry and supplies, and maintaining the sanctions, will remain the most it can do. Ukraine is no NATO country, and therefore Article V cannot be invoked. Active military engagement, like e.g. imposing a No Fly Zone, is totally out of the question. As hard as it may be to watch the Ukrainians fight and suffer for their country, under no pretext can a nuclear war be risked - because that's what NATO engagement would inevitably lead to.


We can and should support Ukraine where we can - sending tank busting weaponry, ammo, take in their refugees, lending financial support, fastening the economic screws on Russia, but in the end, out there in the field, I see no other sensible option than that it's the Ukrainian soldier who must bear the brunt of this foul war.



MFBB.

Saturday, February 26, 2022

THE UNTHINKABLE HAS HAPPENED: BIGGEST WAR IN EUROPE SINCE WORLD WAR 2.

Putin is a rogue, but until a few days ago, I considered him a rational being, no Ahmadinejad-like nutcase eagerly anticipating the end of the world. Over the course of the past two decades, Russia under Putin emerged relatively prosperous from the chaos of the USSR's demise and the subsequent lawlessness of the Yeltsin-era. I never thought he would want to give all that up. I was convinced the huge troop deployments along the Ukrainian border were just sabre-rattling.


Imagine my surprise then, when he launched a full blown air, land and sea war against Ukraine, the enormity of which I'm still struggling to comprehend. This is nothing less than an old fashioned, WW2 era power and land grab, a callous invasion of a sovereign nation.


And after three days of fierce fighting, it is safe to say that the fighting in Ukraine already represents the biggest land war in Europe since World War Two.


Needless to say, Ukrainians deserve our sympathy, prayers and support. However, I'm stopping short of advocating direct military involvement, which has the potential of unleashing a nuclear war. Ukraine is no NATO country, so Article V cannot be invoked. Sending supplies and even weapons are OK in my view, but troops should be totally out of the question. The World simply cannot risk a nuclear holocaust, no matter how much the Ukrainians deserve freedom and prosperity.


It is therefore with a heavy heart that I post this photograph of Ukrainian soldiers praying before an icon of Our Lady of Pochayiv, Protectress of Ukraine, because for the moment I fear that on the battlefield, the task of repelling the invader will rest on their shoulders only:





Belgium has pledged 3,800 tons of fuel and 2,000 machineguns with ammo. If you live in Belgium, you might also want to channel help via the Ukrainian Embassy:





Useful phone numbers and banking accounts are below, if you want to contribute with humanitarian and/or financial aid:






Spare a moment or two, from the comfort of your house, for thoughts and prayers for Ukraine's brave soldiers fighting it out RIGHT NOW in the cold and the mud, and its citizens sheltering in basements and the Underground. Also, for what I suspect is the majority of their adversaries, simple Russian conscripts told to go fight and die for nothing on orders of a cruel madman.



MFBB.

Sunday, February 20, 2022

RECOMMENDED READS: "SAVING DEMOCRACY FROM THE PANDEMIC" BY JOHN P.A. IOANNIDIS AND MICHAELA C. SCHIPPERS.

A timely piece, and an absolute must read, brought to my attention via Tijl De Bie, Professor in Artificial Intelligence at Ghent University. Follow him on twitter: @TijlDeBie



SAVING DEMOCRACY FROM THE PANDEMIC
Three years of crisis were used to justify the concentration of powers and suppression of freedoms that must be clawed back
BY JOHN P.A. IOANNIDIS AND MICHAÉLA C. SCHIPPERS JANUARY 24, 2022



"COVID-19 has killed millions and threatened the prospects of democracy for billions more. Since early 2020, the world has witnessed a marked expansion of governmental decision-making regarding health. Lockdowns and curfews were instated in many countries, and many freedoms were taken away under the justification of a major health threat. Health authorities and politicians alluding to or exploiting health authorities acquired extraordinary power to regulate society at large, including the application of mandates. A Freedom House report found that democracy grew weaker in 80 countries during COVID-19, and that in 2020 the number of free countries reached the lowest level in 15 years. Countries that regressed included ones you’d expect like China and Belarus, but also democratic bulwarks like the United States, France, Denmark, and the Netherlands. The United States was listed as one of the 25 countries that witnessed the steepest declines in freedom. Even if the pandemic enters a less threatening endemic phase (as may already be the case in several countries), the legacy of authoritarian measures and mandates may leave behind a more enduring threat to democracy.


Several governments responded to the lethal pandemic by undermining the very systems that were in place to ensure accountability and to protect public health and well-being. No single individual can be blamed for this—it was a systemic problem, as decisions taken by one government or government agency instantaneously affected the decisions of others. But the result was the restriction of basic freedoms and the normalization of scapegoating and exclusion, both historically a prelude to atrocities. While some extreme actions were justified as efforts to achieve otherwise laudable goals (like increasing rates of vaccination), the attempt to isolate vast numbers of people while whipping the general population into agreement on aggressive public health policies probably damaged even these goals.


Some people, organizations, corporations, and lobbyists (or combinations thereof) saw this crisis as an opportunity to establish some version of a desired ideological utopia, which, in reality, benefited only a zealous minority confident in their “truth”, “science,” or whatever name they used to legitimate blind dogmas. In the end, half of the world’s working population suffered financially under lockdowns, creating massive ripple effects. Most people thrive when they can make their own decisions within the boundaries of the law, even during a crisis. But the loss of these basic freedoms was celebrated as a victory for public health, even as the loss of basic freedoms probably made public health outcomes worse in several countries. Many citizens of the United States and other democracies saw their businesses shutter, their life’s work disappear, and were not allowed to visit sick and dying loved ones or to even attend their burials. Younger generations were probably affected most, as students saw their schools close and their social lives thwarted with consequences we won’t fully understand for many years.


A critical mass of people, especially among those hit hardest by the crisis or whose concerns were marginalized by political and health authorities, may eventually conclude that their governments and leaders have failed them. Frustration may be expressed through peaceful, democratic means (voting officials out of office, for example), or through riots and revolution. Across the world, we have already seen instances of both. The outcomes of such social explosions are by nature chaotic and unpredictable.


The worst way to address such circumstances is to double down on trying to replace concrete values like freedom and equality with goals like safety and health under the guise of “science” and the greater good. No reasonable person would question that all of these values and goals are worthy of our efforts. But when they clash (or are portrayed as clashing), democratic societies must make decisions on priorities. Once individual freedom has been downgraded as a priority, it is difficult to ever get back.


In navigating such difficult circumstances, we need to ask ourselves: What kind of society do we want to have, and what legacy do we want to leave behind to our descendants? To stay healthy and thrive, human beings need positive reinforcement, engagement, close relationships, meaning, and a sense of accomplishment. Even if run by benign “experts” or agencies, top-down societies in which decision-making power is concentrated in the hands of a small group of people make it harder, not easier, for people to live these types of lives. It becomes still more difficult when small groups of people also preside over the concentration of wealth and information.


Many billionaires enjoyed a big expansion of not only their wealth but their influence over public decision-making during the pandemic. Some of them are no doubt brilliant human beings, well-intentioned benefactors, and generous philanthropists. But a big part of society’s increasing distrust of authorities has been the sense that elected representatives and health authorities have become too dependent on or susceptible to the lobbying and influence of tech and financial magnates.


Concern about the manipulation of power and influence has also been exacerbated by the performance of media and social media. It is critical in free, democratic societies that media never become a vessel for a single, state-sanctioned, official narrative at the expense of public debate and freedom of speech. The same applies for social media: Removing content considered “fake” or “false” in order to limit the ability of ordinary people to judge information for themselves only inflames polarization and distrust of the public sphere.


This is especially important in the realm of scientific debate. Anyone who believes that it’s possible to cleanse “science” of error through brute force censorship has no understanding of how science works or how accurate, unbiased evidence is accumulated in the first place. The idea of arbitrators who select what is correct and dismiss what is incorrect is the most alien possible concept to science. Without the ability to make errors or make (and improve on) inaccurate hypotheses, there is no science. The irony is that scientists understand (or at least should understand) and embrace (or at least should embrace) the fact that we all float in a sea of nonsense; it is the opportunist influencers and pundits, lacking in any understanding of the scientific method, who believe in the possibility of pure, unconflicted “truth.”


The population at large would benefit more from scientific skepticism (which doesn’t require a Ph.D.) than from the purging of “bias” by spurious information purifiers. Teaching free citizens about the risk of multifarious biases and how to prevent, detect, and avoid them is a job for educational institutions like schools and universities, not for tech companies, billionaires, federal bureaucrats, or online mobs. Being sensitized about bias has nothing to do with conspiracy theories, and may be the best way to diminish the alarming number of followers of conspiracy theorists. Willingness to acknowledge what we don’t know creates space for respect and dignity; pseudoscientific dogmatism only leads to bullying, violence, and repression. This is as true during times of crisis and emergency as it is during periods of peace and prosperity.


Many governments have demonstrated in the past three years that they can summarily impose decisions on free people without their consent, and can even whitewash their actions if they backfire. A balancing force is needed in a well-informed democracy to promote thoughtful discussion and the adoption of cautious and moderate policies, rather than conflicted agendas based on the proclamations of manipulated mobs. Intolerance and humiliation may seem like expedients, but tolerance and scientific humility may achieve even more.


As the pandemic ebbs, the years ahead will help determine whether we as democratic citizens and free people are still capable of making our own decisions, pursuing happiness, and refraining from harm, without falling prey to the authoritarian temptations that have felled democracies in the past."




John P.A. Ioannidis is Professor of Medicine and Professor of Epidemiology and Population Health, as well as Professor (by courtesy) of Biomedical Data Science and Statistics, at Stanford University.


Michaéla C. Schippers is Professor of Behavior and Performance Management at the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, and Director of the Erasmus Centre for Study and Career Success.




MFBB.

Saturday, January 08, 2022

SATURDAY NIGHT PAUL CARRACK, MGMT.

Paul Carrack with How Long.





Actually a single from English band Ace's debut album Five-A-Side (1974), of which Carrack was a founding member.



MGMT with Little Dark Age. From their eponymous 2017 album.





American indie rock band from Middletown, Connecticut. Founded in 2002 by multi-instrumentalists Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser. Hat tip OutlawSon.



Goede nacht.



MFBB.