Friday, 22 May 2015

Lost and Found

In a way that neatly illustrates that we are not as clever by half as we think we are .. a couple of statues have now been re-attributed as being the only surviving bronzes by Michelangelo.

I say re-attributed, because art experts in the in the 19th century has been happily convinced that that was exactly what they were, but 20th century art scholars, with that intellectual arrogance and historical revisionism that they have so often portrayed, dismissed this idea, and instead attributed them to an almost unknown Dutch sculptor Willem Danielsz Van Tetrode .... on what grounds its hard to say.

One glance suggests that these are not run of the mill statues by a lesser sculptor, but hey that's what the expert scholars thought, so who was to argue.

Michelangelo's Statues or Dutch Nobodies?

Wacko In Waco (part 2)

In another one of those strange coincidences which we have discussed before, the news in the UK was full of tales of the latest results of a bloody biker battle in ..... Waco Texas. This barely a week after I had discussed strange political goings on surrounding that location.

The reports were that nine people were killed, 18 injured and at least another 170 arrested (bail being set bail set at $1 million), and over 300 weapons retrieved, after a shoot-out between rival biker gangs, the Bandidos and the Cossacks in Waco, Texas, in a sort of territory war ... it was apparently provoked over parking spaces in the bar car park. The fight started with punches and then escalated to chains, clubs, knives and finally firearms, with over 100 rounds of ammunition fired off. One officer on the radio reports said that it was the worst incident of its kind that he had seen in over 34 years of Texas law enforcement.

Eerie Indiana Is Rivalled By Waco Texas For Strangeness

What gave this its Eerie in Indiana element was that the battle took place in the Twin Peaks Sports Bar and Grill .... I understand from its Wiki page, that the attraction of this particular chain of sports bars may hold to bikers is that it is known for having its waitresses dress in revealing uniforms that consist of cleavage- and midriff-revealing red plaid tops, as well as khaki short shorts ... the 'Twin Peaks' are presumably in the cleavage. But of course to those of less inclined towards 'Hogs and Ho's', Twin Peaks conjures up a different vision.

The Passing of A Great Kuan

Even in democracies, there are often politicians who are greater than the normal run of the mill. Some such as Winston Churchill are recalled for one specific moment in time, on which their colossus status is secured. Others such as Margaret Thatcher and Indira Ghandi, are recalled for their sheer ability to win elections, and provoked as much controversy after they died, as they did when they were alive.

One politician managed to span both role of national icon and controversial elected leader .... The great Kuan .... well actually Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore, the passing of whom on the 23rd  of March this year provoked the same sort of responses as Mrs Thatcher did in the UK .... but of course he was also the nations founder and great helmsman, so had a measure of sainthood that Mrs Thatcher never had. Though, like all these politicians mentioned they both got similar funerals.

Mr Lee's State Funeral With Vast Crowds

Thursday, 21 May 2015

School For Scoundrels

Teachers cheating to get better results for their pupils is probably nothing new ... after all early in the Western tradition, teachers were often paid only on results.

In ancient Greek and Roman times, a teacher would often stand in a market or open area, and discourse on a subject, hoping to get a meagre payment from a collection at the end of the lesson. In many respects this was little different from story telling, from which it undoubtedly derived. If he could attract enough followers or pupils, he might open his own school of teaching, ranging from mathematics, oratory and public speaking, through to law, geography or philosophy. This new school may well have still be in the open air, but under a tree or shelter (lighting and summer heat being a big factor).
 
During the early middle ages in Europe, non religious teaching lost so much prestige as a profession, that travelling teachers would flock around centres of learning such as Paris and Oxford, looking for paying pupils .... it wasn't completely unknown for the paying pupil to chastise and beat the teacher if unhappy with their performance (although normally it was the other way around, with 'teachers' often stereotyped as a sadistic tyrants). The arrival of 'grammar schools' (such as those attended by a certain Mr Shakespeare) for craftsmen's children e.g. boys nicknamed "Carpenter's Children", set the teacher back on the road to respectability.

Gradually, in the West, teaching regained its role and prestige and by the high Victorian era teachers were respected and comparatively well paid members of society. It was a male role for male students in most 'public' (meaning private fee) schools, but with the factories needing literate workers for the machines, state schooling started to develop for workers children up until basic level (aged 14 at maximum), and this opened up the profession to women as well.

This led us into modern times, when certainly after 1945, schooling up until age 16 for both sexes was a legal requirement in most of North America, and Western and Central Europe, and this spread to all the colonies as well, certainly for the white settlers, and then for many of the natives as well. So that in modern times, again in the Western tradition, teacher probity around examinations was considered to be the absolute minimum standard required.

Schools For Scoundrels Are Not A New Concept

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Gagging Windbags

In Kenya a recent dispute between the major TV companies and the Government  over moving TC broadcasting from analogue to digital transmissions (the companies want more time), led to the proceedings in the Kenyan parliament not being broadcast on public TV (just on radio).

Apart from the blessing of not having hours of TV showing a bunch of ill mannered and overpaid politicians physically fighting ....

Kenyan MP's Fighting Is A Common Sight On TV ....

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