Sunday, August 30, 2015

Refugee housing and a New Life

Updated (at end) 

It is a huge problem for Europe, we are told in the Tavern, that hundreds of thousands of refugees are pouring out of largely Muslim countries and into Europe. They mostly do not stop in the countries they land in - Greece, Italy - but travel on to Germany, Britain, France and the Scandanavian countries. 

The further away from the middle east and Africa, the better, it seems. For them, at least.  They are mostly Muslims fleeing Muslim countries. 

Those countries to which they flee do not think much of the idea however as they are crowded and have housing problems of their own. And the refugees get 'bottlenecked' in places even more deperate.
Mediterranean Cruise it is NOT 
Migrants’ intense frustration at being stuck in Hungary erupted into a noisy unified protest at the country’s main railway station at Keleti, Budapest this morning, with further disruption planned for tomorrow at the start of the working week.
In scenes of increasing desperation, children as young as five held up signs on the shoulders of their parents as they whistled and chanted their way through two levels of the station.
For the first time, all of the migrants had a common voice despite their historic differences, and Kurds, Afghanis joined Indians, Syrians and Iraqis to plead to be allowed out of the country. Around a thousand people have been camping for more than four days at the station desperate to try move onto Austria or Germany.
There are tens of thousands of mainly Syrians and Afghans fleeing the Middle East. They have arrived in Hungary after a months-long journey.
Andy Bolt told us..... 
Invading Germany
Europe must change or be changed: 
Hundreds of angry migrants demonstrated outside Budapest’s Eastern Railway Terminus on Tuesday demanding they be allowed to travel on to Germany, as the biggest ever influx of migrants into the European Union left its asylum policies in tatters…
A refugee crisis rivaling the Balkan wars of the 1990s as Europe’s worst since World War Two has polarized and confounded the European Union, which has no mechanism to cope with the arrival of hundreds of thousands of poor and desperate people.
Germany is likely to accept by far the largest share. In the case of those fleeing the Syrian civil war it has effectively suspended an EU rule that asylum seekers must apply in the first EU country they reach.
But with trainloads of migrants rolling into Munich and Rosenheim from Austria and Hungary, it insisted on Tuesday that the rule was nevertheless still in force and urged other EU countries to abide by it.
Germany is fast realising it can’t keep acting noble in the way approved by most journalists. It may have to close its borders against illegal immigrants: 
The German Chancellor said for the first time that the Schengen zone, which allows passport-free travel across mainland Europe, cannot continue in its current form unless other EU countries accept their share of migrants…
Her comments ... signal that European leaders are beginning to question whether the EU can continue to exist with open borders as it struggles to cope with the hundreds of thousands of migrants coming into the continent from Africa and the Middle East…
Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, is set to receive 800,000 asylum seekers this year, four times the total for 2014 and more than any other EU country.
Where to put all of these people? How to give them a 'New Life' ?

In Oz we get many people with great sympathy for refugees, but not one of them is willing to house them, feed them, clothe them etc.,  'Personally'.  

It is always the Taxpayer who has to foot the bill. 'Someone else'

But there is 'someone else', a country that has already footed huge bills building cities that remain quite empty. 

One might wonder why the refugees do not go there. It is further away from the middle east than Norway.
Ghost cities: The bustling places with no people

THEY are the cities and towns filled with museums, big buildings and even mega highways.

The only thing missing is people.
This may sound odd, China having so many people. But the 'move' from the 'country' to the city is mainly to Beijing and Shanghai. The regions are being depleted.
From capital cities to mega towns, these are places that time, and people, have literally forgot.

In some cases, the cities wait for people to move in, while in others they have been left to rot.

Here are just a few of the places around the world which are full of buildings but are empty of residents to fill them.
Here are some - just a very few of dozens - examples. 


Opened in 2005 and hailed as the largest luxury shopping centre in the world with 659,612 square meters the owners expected 100,000 visitors a day, CNN reported.

However, one employee claimed it had just a 20 per cent occupancy rate and the visitor rate is far from that.
The video further below shows that 20% is wishful.

China has been adopting and adapting the 'European' style and feel, too, for those refugees who seek that instead of the middle eastern and African chaos they run from.
Dongguan is home to more 10 million residents and the luxury centre was built in a rural area, with some suggesting its residents are unable to afford the designer labels it aspires to sell.
Not 'just' China.

This purpose-built city became the capital of the country formerly known as Myanmar in 2005.

It was commissioned by the then ruling military junta three years earlier and hosted the ASEAN Summit in 2014.

The city boasts large government buildings, parks, golf courses, housing and even a 20-lane highway.
Its name literally means “seat of the king”, but the only leader who lives here is President Than Shwe.
It’s a space he shares with other government workers, military and police in a city designed for one million people, according to government figures. The city has a military-only zone, a ministry zone while its residential zone is filled with apartments which are allocated according to rank and marital status.
Chinese 'Italy'. The Italians would be delighted to send refugees here.
Filled with wide empty boulevards, Ordos has a central plaza that’s 2.5km long which seems massive when you consider the city has a population of just 140,000.
The roads are wide and even in peak hour appear to be empty according to SBS Asia correspondent Adrian Brown.

The city located on the outskirts of Ordos is another giant place which appears to be empty.
Originally designed to accommodate a million people, many of the city’s properties have been sold, but according to Brown, remain empty.
The homes were purchased for an investment when a mining boom which is now over.

China building mega cities but they remain empty ghost towns
A recent CBS 60 Minutes report in the US exposed dozens of new cities in China sitting empty - with the apartments snapped up as investments by the nation's wealthy middle class, then sitting empty as the owners fail to find tenants who can meet the rent.
Financial experts fear the ghost town explosion will lead to a housing bubble burst, following China's real estate boom which came after the government changed its policy 15 years ago and allowed people to buy their homes.
The middle class saw real estate as a solid investment, more stable than the sharemarket and offering better returns than the banks.
Government laws do not allow the Chinese to invest overseas.
Hong Kong-based financial analyst Gillem Tulloch said while the initial boom provided good returns, he fears the bubble is about to burst.
"What they (the wealthy middle class) do is they invest in property because property prices have always gone up by more than inflation," he told CBS's 60 Minutes.
"It's the main driver of growth and has been for the last few years. Some estimates have it as high as 20 or 30 per cent of the whole economy.
"I think they're building somewhere between 12 and 24 new cities every year."
But the huge growth has let to a glut of not just apartments, but entire towns and has forced the government to bring in a one-apartment law, where people can own just one property.
In Inner Mongolia, developers built the city of Ordos for one million people. But most of it remains empty.
Early last year the BBC reported Ordos was the largest ghost town in China, and that the housing bubble there had already burst.
Mr Tulloch told 60 Minutes China's government had spent an estimated US$2 trillion to build the cities and to keep the country's economy going.
"They've simply built too much infrastructure too quickly," he said.
"People are being moved into the cities but that doesn't necessarily mean they can afford these apartments which cost US$100,000. These are poor people moving into the cities, so they're building the wrong kind of apartments.
"There are multiple classes of people that are going to get wiped out by this, people who have invested three generations' worth of savings into properties will see their savings evaporated."
But a more balanced view, not really dispelling the theme, also is considered. 
The myth of China’s ghost cities
Ghost towns tend to start as boomtowns, and contemporary China more than likely has more boomtowns than any other country in history. No economy has ever risen so rapidly and no place has ever built so much so quickly. This rapid growth has resulted in peculiar side effect: ghost cities, everywhere.
Although the term “ghost town” is technically a misnomer in this case. A ghost town is a place that has become economically defunct — in other words, a place that has died. What China has is the opposite of ghost towns: It has new cities that have yet to come to life.
There are nearly 600 more cities in China now than there were when the Communist Party took over in 1949. This large-scale urban transition began in the early 1980s, when rural areas began being rezoned as urban en masse and the city took center stage in China’s plans for the future. In the early 2000s this urbanization movement was kicked into high gear. New urban developments began popping up seemingly everywhere — along the outskirts of existing cities as well as in the previously undeveloped expanses between them. Many cities doubled or even tripled their size within relatively short spans of time. In just 15 years Shanghai alone grew sevenfold and its population increased to more than 23 million from 6.61 million.
China’s broader urbanization movement shouldn’t be thought of as a developmental free-for-all. There is a method behind all of this building and an overarching framework. Ten massive new urban conglomerations called mega-regions have been proposed in strategic locations across the country. These are essentially city clusters of 22 million to more than 100 million people each that are to be connected through infrastructure, economically, and, potentially, even politically.
China’s fiscal policy all but requires local municipalities to comply with this broader urbanization plan. According to the World Bank, local municipalities must fend for 80 percent of their expenses while only receiving 40 percent of the country’s tax revenue. Land sales make up much of the difference, resulting in a buy low, sell high scheme, as municipalities buy up cheap rural land, re-designate it as urban, and then resell it at the high urban construction land rate — pocketing the difference. According to China’s Ministry of Finance, land sales raised $438 billion for China’s local governments in 2012 alone.
When developers purchase these new plots of land, they are prohibited by law from sitting on them. They must build something. While it is commonly thought that getting in on a new development zone early is key to making a big profit, these areas tend to lie far outside the bounds of mature, built-up urban areas. This often means constructing vast apartment complexes, giant malls and commercial streets in places that do not yet have much of a population base to support them.
Building a new city from the ground up is a long-term initiative, a process that China estimates takes roughly 17 to 23 years. By 2020, Ordos Kangbashi plans to have 300,000 people, Nanhui expects to attract 800,000 residents and 5 million people are slated to live in Zhengdong New District. China’s new cities are just that: new.
There is hardly a single new urban development in the country that has yet gone over its estimated time line for completion and vitalization, so any ghost city labeling at this point is premature: Most are still works in progress. But while building the core areas of new cities is something that China does with incredible haste, actually populating them is a lengthy endeavor.
When large numbers of people move into a new area, they need to be provided for; they need public services like healthcare and education. Therefore, a population carries a price tag and there is often an extended period of time between when cities appear completed and when they are actually prepared to sustain a full-scale population. This could be called the “ghost city” phase.
Most large new urban developments in China eventually move through this phase and become vitalized with businesses and a population. Essential infrastructure gets built, shopping malls open, and places where residents can work are created. In many of the biggest new cities, new university campuses will emerge and government offices and the headquarters of banks and state owned enterprises will be shipped in, essentially seeding these fresh outposts of progress with thousands of new consumers. From here, more businesses are attracted — often drawn by favorable subsidies like free rent — and more people trickle in as the city comes to life.
Some of China’s most notorious ghost cities saw phenomenal population growth in recent years, according to a report by Standard Chartered. In just a two year period from 2012 to 2014, Zhengdong New District’s occupancy rate rose doubled, while Dantu’s quadrupled and Changzhou’s Wujin district increased to 50 percent from 20 percent. Though there is still an excess of vacancies in these places, when urban areas of high-density housing are even half full there’s still a large number of people living there — more than enough for the place to socially and economically function as a city.
It generally takes at least a decade for China’s new urban developments to start breaking the inertia of stagnation. But once they do, they tend to keep growing, eventually blending in with the broader urban landscape and losing their “ghost city” label.
China has another significant advantage over Europe, as far as taking Muslim refugees. The Chinese authorities do not like muslims. They have a way with deterring Islam.

This is an advantage for any muslim refugee fleeing the chaos of Islamic life. Most are scared to abandon Islam because other Islamists will kill them.  They just might otherwise.

Any 'moderate' muslim that we hear so much about, wishing to escape Islam, the Koran, the evil anti-human creed that holds life so nastily as it beheads it, can find real refuge in China where the authorities would be right on their side.

A new life in a new country that would have no hesitation in cracking down HARD on extremism would benefit all of us.

Perhaps we can give china a hand. 

Food for thought and I have a cellar-full to wash it down with.

As a final thought, however, all that land used for the new cities. We saw the video of the reporter and his gummunt minder being shown around and speaking to the 'grateful' farmers, but is there perhaps more to it than meets the eye? 

Oh yes.


Friday, August 28, 2015

Hillary's Potemkin Village

Several of my customers, as well as I myself, refer to the land beneath the Mountain as Hillary's Village. It is almost a misnomer. As a term it wins out over 'Potemkin' only because they ran out of paint down there; it was banned by the Greenies.

Greenies have done well in trying to drag Tasmania into the dark ages. And believe me, being a Knight of that era I know all about the dark ages. There was little to recommend it, bar the annual Dragon-hunt season.

Not one of us however is at all lost for a reason to live here. Tasmania is (one of) the most beautiful places you could wish for.  It is the only compensation but sufficient for we who soldier on here doing our Knightly duty.

Hillary Clinton, famed for claiming in her incompetence even at being a mother, that 'It takes a Village to Raise a Child',  is of course, a Socialist. She can afford to be. Most of the powerful socialists are very wealthy.  Well they would be, wouldn't they (as Mandy R D might have said) when they dip their hand into so many pockets. And the socialists have done immense damage down in the Tasmanian town.

Socialists and Greens. But wait: there were three witches in Cawdor. Yep, we have the third too. Feminists.  Woe is the land under those three harridans. Many cannot see a difference between them.

But today we had a new customer drop in: John *, pulling the veil back to expose this dark Green underbelly. We trust that the World, gazing at this scourge' also takes a look at the beauty here. For balance, doncha know.
These are no beauties!
The Greens Demolition Of Tasmania
The state election in March last year saved Tasmania from becoming an Aussie version of the Amish. They came within a whisker of existing without any meaningful business and were just about forced to re-invent the horse and cart. A 12.2 per cent swing to the Liberals meant they had the first pro-business state government in years.
With the Greens sharing power, it’s Earth Hour all year round if you want to run a business. 
Tasmania suffered years of neglect under a Labor/Green state goverment, and the result was loss of jobs, loss of industry, loss of standards and loss of wealth.
The Greens would like to see them scavenging for seeds and berries to eat, and trading possum pelts for a living, as long as the possums had died of natural causes first. 
The Federal Government should have come down hard and ruled that if the state doesn’t produce anything or earn any money, there will be no welfare available. As it stands, Tasmania has the highest number of illiterates in the country and the highest per capita of people living off a government hand out.
Tasmania is rich in minerals, it has great natural resources including fisheries and farming and tourism. It is nearly the size of England with a population of 500,000. There are 23 local councils who all fight with each other and are dominated by the Greens. 
It’s almost impossible to run a business. The Greens simply bring in overseas “experts” or apply to some international body to stifle any development.
The trashing of the Triabunna pulp mill and its associated port on Tassie’s east coast offers an insight into the looney Green’s tactics. The mill was purchased from Gunns in 2011 by the Wilderness Society. A Tasmanian parliamentary inquiry found the mill to be a viable business and said the purchasers had a contractual obligation to keep it running. 
Wilderness Society boss Alec Marr and his cronies went in and wrecked the joint.
A group of businessmen wanted to develop a tourism venture by running a cable car from the top of Mt Wellington down to Hobart and then join up with an overhead tramway that would travel around the Hobart waterfront. 
The tramway was to be purchased secondhand from Sydney. It would have created building jobs and permanent employment. 
The Mountain (Mt. Wellington) provides spectacular views and is snow-covered for half of the year. But the road is closed when there is snow so no-one gets to see the view. A Cable-car would be a fine enterprise.
NO! said the Greens.
It’s not only in Tasmania. The Greens are out to stop all 21st century development. Christine Milne’s solution for second airport in NSW, take a train. In Victoria, scrap the East/West Link and take a train. The same people who have prospered due to human progress now want to prohibit that from the next generation. 
The loopy Greens are the ‘Taliban’ of the Australian economy.
The Green voter doesn’t have the intellectual capability to understand the gravity of their policies, but is more worried about gaining favour among their urban social peers because it’s cool to vote Green. 
The Universities are the problem, not the solution. Almost all Leftist policies emanate from radical university lecturers. Christopher Pyne should be spending his time trying to eradicate this cancer from the teaching/lecturing mob.
The demographics are that a lot of them will have a university degree, where the ability to think and reason should be highly developed. However, there are very few of them who understand the basics of maths and economics.
Tasmanians have learnt a very painful lesson and it is doubtful they will ever hold the Greens party in the esteem they once did. Unfortunately, the inner city elite on the mainland have yet to learn that painful lesson, but eventually they will be forced to acknowledge that the socialist nirvana promised by the Greens is nothing more than a mad dreamscape.
Tasmania would like to develop a new and unique export industry – shipping off the loopy Greens to their spiritual home in North Korea.
Well, I cannot find anything to disagree with there. Except perhaps to remind you all of the 'size' point. Yes, the Island is near the size of England when you strip out Scotland and Wales. It is just about the same size as Ireland. 

It was also the Greens (still is) that pushed for the wicked Abortion laws here; the most draconian in Australia for its punishment of anyone with an alternative opinion. Here we have a fine of $9750 and a year in Jail for anyone who dares to hold up a plaquard or say a prayer near our Abortuary. 

It is the Greens that pushed for Same-Sex marriage and Euthenasia. They still push. They shove. They lie and distort. They bully and calumnise. 

Greens are anti-Human Life.

It is a fine place for a Knight to live.  A Target-rich environment, as we have Feminists and Socialists too. They hate human life as well.

Now, I must go and sharpen my sword.
* John blogs from his home computer desk close to Bulcock Beach on the Sunshine Coast of Australia. He is a Website Designer and WordPress Aficionado in his spare time. "The Australian media are a biased, brain-dead cheer squad for the Left. Accurate and honest reporting is a thing of the past. This blog will bring you the inconvenient facts, the information the mainstream media like to filter out.
John’s other office is on the Boardwalk beside Pumicestone Passage


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Close Enough for Government Work.

I just love it. The iconic timepiece, known all over the world, does not keep the right time.

Big Ben has been 'out' by as much as six seconds. And I am chuffed.

And why should it? Why should we be ruled down to the last millisecond. Close enough is close enough for human beings surely. As they say, 'Close enough for Government work' is close enough for tourists.

The media has been all over it like a rash, but have missed the bus and the point. 

Big Ben - named after a bare-knuckle prize fighter - was the biggest bell ever cast in Britain - all 14 tons, close enough - and is a 'human' bell. It is the People's bell.
Big Ben's Iconic Clock Has Been Running Six Seconds Fast.
LONDON — It's part of the most recognizable landmark on the London skyline, and Brits have relied on its chime for more than 150 years — but Big Ben has recently been telling the wrong time.
The iconic tower's bell has been fast by as much as six seconds in recent weeks,the BBC Radio 4's "PM" radio show revealed Monday.
The Elizabeth Tower that houses the Great Bell — which is commonly known as Big Ben — is seen along with Britain's Houses of Parliament. 
"If you set your watch by Big Ben, the bad news is that the first 'bong' signifying the hour has been off by five or even six seconds sometimes," host Eddie Mair told listeners.
The Elizabeth Tower that houses the Great Bell — which is commonly known as Big Ben — was built 156 years ago.
"We do carry out regular checks, as you can imagine, because this is a mechanical clock. It's not digital, it's not electronic, it does take a lot of love and care," said Steven Jaggs, who as "Keeper of the Great Clock" helps to maintain it.
The problem happened, according to Jaggs' fellow clock mechanic Ian Westworth, after the clock started running slightly slow.
The team attempted to rectify this through a painstaking process of climbing the tower's 344 steps each day and removing or adding coins to change the weight of the clock's pendulum.
But "when we started correcting it, it corrected itself at the same time," Westworth told the BBC, describing the "fluke" that caused the slowdown.

"To tell you the truth, we don't actually know why it happened," he added. "You're talking about a 156-year-old clock, and…it's a little temperamental. Imagine running your car 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, for the last 156 years."
Luckily — for a landmark that's as regular as English tea and bad weather — Big Ben has "settled down, telling you exactly the right time," Westworth said.
Shame. Shame, I say. 

I like the idea of it being just that little bit imperfect.

Ah well, we rarely call 'Time' in the Tavern anyway.


Monday, August 24, 2015

A Hero's Final Journey

Some people make a difference. Not all Heroes are Knights. Not all Knights are Maori Warriors.

When they take that final ride across the drawbridge they will be missed, and those whose lives have been affected by them may shed a tear. Some however share the manly qualities that maketh the Hero and send him on his way with an Honour that befits all. 

So it was for a Teacher at Palmerston North High School in Wellington, New Zealand.

Dawson Tamatea 

He taught the boys for 30 years. Maths and Gym.  The boys showed their love and respect.

A fine manner of Salute.

Few outside his orbit knew of him.  His boys did. They are on their way to becoming men like him.

I have no doubt at all that another Haka will welcome him at the other side of the bridge.

He is Honoured in the Tavern.

Raise your cups.


Saturday, August 22, 2015

Whispers from the Crypt # 5

“Watch your thoughts; they become words. 
Watch your words; they become actions. 
Watch your actions; they become habit. 
Watch your habits; they become character. 
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”
I think I heard the words of a friend. Stephen Gunnell. Zeg to his readers. He is now in the crew on the right side wall.

Someone else, an old man, spoke from the shadows down there too. 

He spoke of Loss. 
I'm old. 
What that means is that I've survived (so far) and a lot of people I've known and loved did not. 
I've lost friends, best friends, acquaintances, co-workers, grandparents, mom, relatives, teachers, mentors, students, neighbors, and a host of other folks. I have no children, and I can't imagine the pain it must be to lose a child. But here's my two cents...
I wish I could say you get used to people dying. But I never did. I don't want to. It tears a hole through me whenever somebody I love dies, no matter the circumstances. But I don't want it to "not matter". I don't want it to be something that just passes. My scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person. And if the scar is deep, so was the love. So be it. 

Scars are a testament to life. Scars are a testament that I can love deeply and live deeply and be cut, or even gouged, and that I can heal and continue to live and continue to love. And the scar tissue is stronger than the original flesh ever was. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are only ugly to people who can't see.
As for grief, you'll find it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you're drowning, with wreckage all around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was, and is no more. And all you can do is float. You find some piece of the wreckage and you hang on for a while. Maybe it's some physical thing. Maybe it's a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it's a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float. Stay alive.

In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don't even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you'll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they still crash all over you and wipe you out. But in between, you can breathe, you can function. You never know what's going to trigger the grief. It might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything...and the wave comes crashing. But in between waves, there is life.
Somewhere down the line, and it's different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall. Or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or landing at O'Hare. You can see it coming, for the most part, and prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you'll come out.

Take it from an old guy. The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don't really want them to. But you learn that you'll survive them. And other waves will come. And you'll survive them too. 
If you're lucky, you'll have lots of scars from lots of loves. And lots of shipwrecks.

I grieve. Daily. I pray for my daughter, daily.  I love her.  But He upstairs has sent solace and very special friends. One is as my daughter and I love her too. I must go down to the Crypt tomorrow. Much mopping of floors to do. 

I have much to grieve and much for which I am thankful.


Art Appreciation for self-abusers.

OK, so tonight I will listen to music. And maybe tomorrow look at some fine art, after Mass. Tonight's music I mentioned yesterday, and even gave you a preview. But as for art, we had Bill Leak in this morning, bright and early, for a rant.

I do love the sound of a fine rant in the morning. And Bill was up for it. 

He had an bone or three to pick with the poncy wassers that dominate our 'art' exhibitions. Bill has not time for cant and flatulence-in-oils. He pokes fun at any falseness, in cartoons. Pretty damned funny cartoons at that. 

He is as good as my other favourite cartoonist, Zeg.  (I must give him  some wall space too one of these days.) But, to Bill and his rant. He took a look at the 'Premier' (well, most popular amongst the farteratti at any rate) art competition in Hillary's Village, The 'Archibald'.

The Archibald brings out the 'portraitists' who choose a subject from amongst the (mainly left-wing) glitterati. The prize is awarded to the best sychophant by the most aclaim-seeking art critics.

The guys in the back room where the paintings are unpacked also get to choose a winner. The two 'winning' paintings are never the same. 

So, let it rip, sir.
Archibald hanging offences

When it comes to the Archibald Prize, I’m best known for having lost it, lots of times. When, one day, the definitive history of the Archibald is written, I fear I may warrant a mention in an amusing little chapter called The Biggest Losers.
[Art] exists in a sort of mysterious realm protected by an impenetrable barrier of spin, written in arcane but deeply politically correct language. And no one dares question it for fear of revealing they don’t know what it means.

The spin doctors of art have been very successful at making the world of art an inhospitable place, inhabited only by the cognoscenti and shut off to everyone else.
Great paintings are a source of unadulterated aesthetic pleasure… The world is a confusing place, but there’s nothing confusing about the transcendental power of art.
You never hear two people arguing about whether the sunset they’re looking at is beautiful; similarly, you never hear two people looking up at Michelangelo’s ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and arguing about whether that’s beautiful. 
Like the glimpse of the universe you get when you look at the sunset, the Sistine Chapel ceiling has the capacity to take your breath away. To make you go weak at the knees. To swoon.

You’ll swoon, too, if you go to the Frick Collection in New York and stand in front of a painting Turner did in 1826 of a boat arriving in Cologne…
The mistake many people make is to make it complicated. 
Instead of experiencing paintings, many people try to read them. Picasso, whose work has been subjected to more interpretations and explanations than just about any other artist, once said: “People always want to know what a painting means. Why don’t they want to know the meaning of the song of a bird?” 
The trouble is, of course, we’re all being told that’s how we should approach paintings by highly qualified and internationally acclaimed art historians and academics.
Standing in the middle of the Simpson Desert and looking into the clear night sky is the sort of visual experience that can give you a sense of the numinous, to put you in direct contact with something too awe-inspiring to even begin to understand.

Standing in front of great paintings can be overwhelming, too. Looking at great works of art and wondering how they were created is like looking at the night sky and wondering how all the stars got there.

The difference, of course, is you know what you’re looking at was not created by an unimaginable God but by an almost — but perhaps not quite — imaginable human being.

There are plenty of academics and art historians who find it impossible to believe anyone could exist whose genius makes them seem rather dull by comparison. 
You wouldn’t want to argue with a bloke with a title such as the Charlotte C. Weber professor of art at Wake Forest University, North Carolina, David Lubin, BA, MA, PhD, now would you? He’s written more books and articles on art than I’ve had abusive letters from people who don’t think my cartoons are funny.
So, when he looks at a beautiful group portrait painted in 1882 by John Singer Sargent called The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit he doesn’t see four attractive young girls at home in a very comfortable Paris apartment like the rest of us. He sees “an unhappy psychodrama fraught with exploitation, anxiety and tension”.

Sargent, bless him, thought he was simply painting portraits. 
Instead, according to Lubin, “Portraiture was an acting out in sublimated form of the artist’s own sexuality. It was a means of declaring the otherwise indeclarable, a method of externalising and temporarily reconciling that highly unstable, even volatile, sexual difference that was felt within but not understood."…
After a break of 10 years from attending the Archibald exhibition I was hoping this year to see portraits that would make me feel positive about it and what it says about the state of art in Australia today. 
I am genuinely sorry it did not.

The trustees want to make sure there’s something for everyone who visits the show, so they throw in a smattering of paintings such as Peter Churcher’s exquisite portrait of his mother Betty and Robert “Alfie” Hannaford’s beautifully painted self-portrait as a sort of sop to boring old farts like me who think the artist’s statement is the one written in paint, not in the list of instructions next to it.
You might be forgiven for thinking Kim Leutwyler’s painting Start the Riot is just a portrait of a woman called Ollie Henderson if you didn’t read the accompanying notes that tell you that it is, in fact, an emphatic statement about “the fluidities and complexities of sexual identity” and “the unrealistic modification of images that set unattainable standards of beauty”. It’s not a painting, it’s a teaching aid, and Leutwyler painted it because you need to be taught a lesson.
You can also learn a thing or two if you read the notes first and then look at Tim Gregory’s Self-portrait as Ancestors. To ensure you have an educational, as distinct from a transcendental, experience when you see it you have to know that “white painters (particularly male painters) in Australia, and the white population more broadly, cannot contribute in any significant way to cultural, political or social evolution until we acknowledge that we arestill a colonial country, absurdly and violently layered on top of the world’s oldest, continuous culture”. 
There you go. You’re a white supremacist and you should be ashamed of yourself because Gregory, who lectures in art at the University of NSW’s school of art and design and whose research focus is the spatio-political potential of pornography, says so.
As for Nigel Milsom’s winning portrait, I’m sure if I saw it anywhere other than in the context of the Archibald Prize I’d just think it was a really great painting and a damned good portrait of lawyer Charles Waterstreet.

The trouble is, in the context of the Archibald Prize it becomes something else. 
It becomes a statement spoken in a loud voice by the trustees of the gallery, who want you to know that they know you know the artist, Milsom, may have been jailed for bashing up a shopkeeper and robbing his convenience store in Sydney’s Glebe a few years ago, but they’re going to award the Archibald Prize to him anyway. 
That way, you see, they can demonstrate not only how compassionate they are but they can show you how transgressive they are, too.

They want to be seen as anarchic and progressive, the type who are willing to “push the boundaries”. 
I’d bet that if Milsom had gone to all the trouble of getting diagnosed with depression, getting a drug habit and getting caught knocking off a convenience store and then turned up with a portrait of Piers Akerman or Andrew Bolt he wouldn’t have got a look-in.
'Nuff said. I cannot find anything to disagree with there, and you know me by now. I can disgree with the Pope on a sunny day with the wind behind me. 

Take care Bill. The Lefti-Ignorranti will be after you. But then you are used to that. Truth is on your side.


Friday, August 21, 2015

Rehearsals for the Big Night

So there was I just having made sure the restaurant was clear after breakfast when three lively, lovely and very blond girls walked in.

I have to say that after a very heavy week with the world going mad and bad as well increasing in stupid, it does an old Knight good to be reminded that there is lightness, brightness and gaity (in the old and proper sense) around.

And it was a beautiful day on the mountain too.

"Can we play for you, Sire", the little one breathed.  "Tomorrow Night, in the Tavern?"

By the Lord Harry, Pretty girls", says I, "strut thy stuff and let me see. And tell me about yourselves."

In a jiffy they were out of their dusty mountain walking boots and jeans and into smart little frocks.

What could I say. I booked them. I negotiated, of course. Food and Grace, for song and beauty.

So tomorrow evening the Tavern will be alive with the sound of these delightful girls.

They told me more.

Don't little ones grow up so fast.

I let them get on with their rehearsals and wander around the grounds.

I have not heard that for a while.  

A few male voices could be blended with these girls quite nicely. I may suggest that to some Monks I know.

Still, the girls are far nicer to look at as well as listen to, so......

They had a fine old time exploring the Tavern buildings and grounds so I left them at it.

Much to do to get everything ready for the concert. If it is a pleasant evening (tho' winter here) they may get to play to the aurora. With snow flakes perhaps.

They will sing for their Grace and give of theirs.