22 March 2013

A young dancer


Tasteless painting fetches nearly £1m

The original  painting of the Chinese Girl, thought to be the most reproduced print in the world, was sold for nearly £1 million yesterday. The work by Russian-born artist Vladimir Tretchikoff raised £982,050 - nearly double its expected price - as part of a sale of South African art at Bonhams auction house.

Millions of reproductions of the picture, also known as the Green Lady because of the unusual blue-green skin tone of the subject, have been sold since it was painted in the 1950s.

A Bonhams spokesman said: "It's very exciting. Suddenly the market has decided they like what they can see with Tretchikoff."

The Bonhams spokesman added: "It's almost triple the £380,000 we sold his painting Lenka for last year. It shows he's beginning to close in on the other major figures on the South African art landscape, Irma Stern - whose picture Arab Priest we previously sold for £3 million - and Pierneef."

The identity of the Chinese Girl buyer was not known, but the painting will remain within Europe, the spokesman said.

No accounting for taste I suppose

21 March 2013

Ahmadinejad and the discharged shotgun...

The Atlantic has a short item, an extract from a forthcoming book, the consequences of which I shudder to think

One morning in September 2006, during the United Nations General Assembly, President George W. Bush’s daily intelligence brief contained a particularly chilling item. It was three sentences long, and it scared the hell out of the dozen or so White House officials cleared to read it. According to one official, it began, “A U.S. Secret Service agent, in an apparent accident, discharged his shotgun as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was loading his motorcade at the InterContinental Hotel yesterday.”

At the time, the Bush administration was weighing how to deal with the Iranian nuclear-weapons program. And here a Secret Service agent had just given Iran a potentially devastating public-relations coup. Ahmadinejad was certain to reveal the accident in some grand form before the whole of the United Nations. He might allege that the United States had tried to assassinate him, and thus upend the entire conference. “When I read that, I remember closing my eyes,” recalls the official.
The agent was adjusting the side-mounted shotgun on one of the motorcade’s armored follow-up Suburbans when it discharged. “Everyone just stopped. The Iranians looked at us and we looked at the Iranians. The agent began to apologize. Ahmadinejad just turned his head and got into his car.” And that was it.

The Iranians told no one. Their silence led several White House aides to begin to see Ahmadinejad in a new light. Here was evidence that maybe Iran was acting strategically, and therefore cautiously.

—Adapted from Deep State: Inside the Government Secrecy Industry, by Marc Ambinder and D. B. Grady (to be published this month by Wiley)

An accident for sure rather than some hare brained plan to off Ahmadinejad (not that I would be sorry to see him out of the picture). I shudder to think of the consequences of him eing shot or even illed in such an accident....

And why the V&A is concerned!

Napalm Death Cancel a concert at the Victoria and Albert

The Independent reports that leading death metal band have been forced to cancel a one-off performance at the Victoria and Albert Museum amid concerns for the historic fabric of the building.

Napalm Death, who formed in Birmingham in 1981 and count songs such as “Scum”, “Greed Killing” and “Mentally Murdered” among their musical repertoire, were due to play a ground-breaking concert in collaboration with the V&A’s resident ceramicist, Keith Harrison.

Mr Harrison had planned to construct a speaker system that was filled with liquid clay, which would have cracked and fragmented as the sound reverberated inside it, creating a unique live installation.
Napalm Death were chosen to play the special set as it was hoped their deep bass sound would have created the perfect frequency to shatter the tiles and create the artwork.

The one-off gig was due to take place this Friday in a disused gallery currently undergoing renovation.

But the museum announced today that it had been forced to cancel the event after a safety inspection raised concerns over the potentially damaging effect such loud music could have on the both building and artwork, the organisers reluctantly cancelled the concert.

Concern about the preservation and safety of the Victorian structure has been heightened in recent years with the advent of the ‘FuturePlan’, a multi-million pound modernisation scheme designed to bring the museum into the 21st century whilst retaining its original splendour.

Now Napalm Death are not my cup of tea but I never thought to hear the and mentioned in the same sentence as the Victoria and Alert Museum!

09 March 2013


I keep on saying it but right now I just a not in the mod to blog.I will try to visit my favourite blogs but Black Dog is visiting

28 February 2013

Dermot Morgan 15 years on

Is it really 15 years since Dermot Morgan died. Here's a couleof non Father Ted clips. I wish I saw his standup routine

And y choice for the Contact page

My favourite photograph of a supremely talented artist

New Website

This is the cover photo for a new website I've setup for my photographs. Its only a Wix site.When I have oney I will create something better again. If you've seen my portfolio log or my Facebook photogrphy page then there's not a lot of new. content but I have created separate pages for Tim and for Li.

26 February 2013

Nominations for 2013 Diagram Prize!

The Diagram Prize  surely ranks with the Razzies and the IgNobels as one of the most coveted awards availale in this world today A few days ago the nominations for the 2013 prize were announcedandquite a fine line up there is as ever!

How Tea Cosies Changed the World – the 160-page follow-up to Really Wild Tea Cosies – is up against How to Sharpen Pencils and God's Doodle: The Life and Times of the Penis to win the little sought-after accolade of the oddest book title of the year.

Loani Prior's tea cosy extravaganza, containing "24 vibrant new designs that transform the conventional tea cosy into a knitted piece of art", is one of six books shortlisted for the Diagram prize, alongside David Rees's "manifesto and a fully illustrated walk-through of the many, many, many ways to sharpen a pencil" and Tom Hickman's look at man's relationship with his penis.
A niche guide to pigeon housing, Lofts of North America: Pigeon Lofts, fairy hunter Reginald Bakeley's Goblinproofing One's Chicken Coop and Was Hitler Ill?, an examination from a historian and a professor of medicine of whether Adolf Hitler was fully responsible for his crimes, complete the lineup for this year's Diagram prize

The Bookseller's Philip Stone said he was "particularly fond" this year of How to Sharpen Pencils, "not only because of its oddity, but because I find something beautiful in the fact a publisher has been brave enough to publish a book concerning a centuries-old implement in hardback in the digital age. Upon my next trip to my local independent bookshop, I hope to see it alongside all the pornographic literature that appears to be keeping the entire book industry in rude health."

According to Stone, the prize "draws welcome attention to an undervalued art".

"Publishers and booksellers know only too well that a title can make all the difference to the sales of a book," he continued. "A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian has sold almost 1m copies to date, while books such as Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared perhaps all owe some of their success to their unusual monikers."

The winner will be chosen by a public vote at thebookseller.com and welovethisbook.com and announced on 22 March. The Bookseller's diarist and the prize's custodian Horace Bent said: "It remains a great honour of mine to represent a prize that draws attention to authors not called Hilary Mantel that may need a little help in gaining column inches and subsequently entering public consciousness and bookshop bestseller bays."

The shortlist

Goblinproofing One's Chicken Coop by Reginald Bakeley (Conari, £9.99)
God's Doodle: The Life and Times of the Penis by Tom Hickman (Square Peg, £12.99)
How Tea Cosies Changed the World by Loani Prior (Murdoch, £12.99)
How to Sharpen Pencils by David Rees (Melville House, £12.99)
Lofts of North America: Pigeon Lofts by Jerry Gagne (Foy's Pet Supplies, £51.50)
Was Hitler Ill? by Hans-Joachim Neumann and Henrik Eberle (Polity Press, £20)

I cant wait to see who wins!

Astronomers break record for smallest exoplanet disovered

This may e a few days old but the BBC reported that astronomers have smashed the record for the smallest exoplanet beyond our Solar - finding one only slightly larger than our Moon.

To spot the tiny, probably rocky planet, they first needed to precisely measure the size of its host star.
They did so using "astroseismology" - effectively, turning tiny variations in the star's light into sounds.
A report in Nature describes the blistering, probably rocky planet, which orbits its star in just 13 days.
It is joined in this far-flung solar system by two other planets, one three-quarters Earth's size and one twice as large as Earth - all circling their star too closely to harbour liquid water or life.

Moving target The record for smallest "exoplanet" is routinely being broken, as astronomers get better and better at finding them.

The best tool in the planet-hunters' toolbox is the Kepler space telescope, which stares at a fixed part of the sky, trying to detect the tiny dips in stars' light that happens when planets pass in front of them: what is called a transit event.

In its earliest days, the Kepler team tended to find large planets - Jupiter- and Neptune-sized behemoths. In more recent years, the catalogue of exoplanet has seen an increasing number of so-called super-Earths, up to about twice the radius of our planet.But the new find is a planet just a third the size of that recent record-holder, smaller even than our Solar System's smallest planet, Mercury.

"I think it's an amazing technological achievement to be able to be able to detect small rocks like this," said Francois Fressin, a co-author of the paper based at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. It means we're really in the arena where it's possible to detect all the planets of our Solar System, but around other stars," he told BBC News.

The find of Kepler 37b and its two companions can in part be ascribed to a wealth of data from the Kepler telescope; it has been recording data for nearly four years, and signals that would once have been too small to see have been slowly accumulating, with smaller planets becoming more apparent.
But telling just how small a given planet is depends on a relative measurement: how much light there is when the planet is and is not in front of the host star. The degree to which we can know the planet's size depends on how well we can know the host star's size.

That is where the science of astroseismology comes in - and a team of experts in this area of science at the University of Birmingham in the UK took a look at the data.
"Inside stars it's a very noisy environment, and that noise sets up sound waves that travel all the way through the star," said Birmingham astrophysicist Prof Yvonne Elsworth.
"Some of (the waves) will resonate, just like a musical instrument - the turbulence causes them to ring at frequencies that are characteristic of the star," Prof Elsworth told BBC News.
"If we look at the star we can see those oscillations, the amount of light we get from the star varies - slowly and by a very small amount - at frequencies that tell us what's going on inside the star."
And also like a musical instrument, those "resonant" frequencies tell researchers just how big the star actually is.

'Decade of discovery' Together, the analyses point to the presence of three planets. Kepler 37b and c are about 30% and 74% as large as the Earth, and Kepler 37d is about twice Earth's radius.
  An artist's conception shows what the smallest of the three planets, Kepler 37b, may look like
The three orbit their star in 13, 21, and 40 days respectively - all within orbits just 20% of the Earth-Sun distance.

It is, in short, another interesting solar system to go in the burgeoning catalogues of exoplanets - and the notion that exoplanet news has been in plentiful supply in recent years is not lost on Dr Fressin.
"I understand that people could get bored by these successive announcements," he said.
"But hundreds or thousands of years from now, this will be remembered as the decade where discovery of other worlds of all kinds has been made possible."

What more to say but that this is truly fascinating stuff

Arctic Convoy Medal and Bomber Command Clasp Issue Imminent

The Guardian is reporting that surviving veterans of the Arctic convoys and Bomber Command will receive new medals or clasps within a fortnight following the government's decision to acknowledge their bravery during WWII.

Up to 250,000 veterans (So many? unless this includes relatives too) will be eligible for the decorations, but those still living or their widows will receive the awards first, the defence minister Mark Francois will announce on Tuesday.  Production of the Arctic Star medal and the Bomber Command clasp will begin this week after the final designs were agreed. The former has been based on the second world war stars, and the clasp is similar to the one given to veterans of the Battle of Britain.

The decision to award the decorations was made last December following a review by the former diplomat Sir John Holmes, who was asked by the prime minister to review the rules on military medals.

The Arctic convoys are credited with having played an important role in buoying Russia as Hitler mounted an invasion. The supplies helped the Red Army to push back against the Nazis, but this effort came at a cost.
More than 3,000 seamen were killed during 78 convoys that delivered 4m tonnes of cargo. Eighty-five merchant ships and 16 Royal Navy vessels were destroyed. It is thought 66,500 men sailed on the convoys, but only 200 are alive today.

Once again good news but too late in the day for the vast majority of Arctic Convoy and Bomer Command veterans. Still I am sure my father will be pleased to have a clasp to his 1939-45 star

18 February 2013

Waiting to die?

On Friday and Satuday Robyn looked as if he was about to give up the ghostHe didn't even want is Dreamies. But he's picked up again.Still it's only a matter of time before he dies.  He is a very old chap but he's had a good life