Saturday, May 23, 2015

Possibly the Best Coat of Arms in the World

I would like to nominate as the best coat of arms in the world : Hensbroek

Hensbroek is a village in North Holland, Netherlands. "Hens" is dutch for chicken and "broek" is dutch for pants so obviously the coat of arms is a picture of a hen in pants.

from wiki (where they seem less sure as to what chickens look like.)

Hensbroek means hen's pants so why not draw a hen wearing pants?  Actually, it turns out that it's origins are "It was founded as "Heynsbroec", meaning the marshy wetland of Heyn"

An explanation in Dutch is here. I think it means that it was a swampy, marshy land where a person would not want to wear long trousers but instead wear pants (in the British sense). So, meaning "need-to-wear-short-pants-land of Hen" Presumably, the coat of arms was drawn without the historical memory of the original meaning.


To the people of the village of De Hulk in the Netherlands I offer a coat of arms of their own. I hope they won't be too modest and start calling themselves incredible.

Incredible Hulk coat of arms of De Hulk, North Holland,  Netherlands
De Hulk, Netherlands Coat of Arms

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Search suggestion fail

All I did was innocently search wikipedia for the admittedly obscure Dutch painter Barend Dircksz and look at what wiki thought I meant. No thanks.

Search for Barend Dircksz and wiki's suggestion fail : Banned Dicks

There is a tiny entry on the Dutch Wikipedia. For Barend Dircksz I mean.

Monday, May 18, 2015

How Orwellian : racism isn't racist

Bahar Mustafa is a student union diversity officer at Goldsmiths University in the UK who was trying to organize a racially segregated event but asserts that she can't be racist or sexist because she is an ethnic minority woman.

According to reports at the time, Ms Mustafa posted a message on Facebook which read: "Hey, I made as many of you hosts so please invite loads of BME Women and non-binary people!! 
"Also, if you've been invited and you're a man and/or white PLEASE DON’T COME just cos I invited a bunch of people and hope you will be responsible enough to respect this is a BME Women and non-binary event only."
Ms Mustafa added: "Don't worry lads we will give you and allies things to do", followed by  a winky face emoji.
In a video recently uploaded on local news website however, Ms Mustafa has described the backlash as "an outrageous distortion of fact".
In the seven-minute video, Ms Mustafa also refuted any accusation of racism and sexism', claiming "reverse racism and reverse sexism are not real".
In a presentation made in front of fellow students, Ms Mustafa said: "Furthermore, there have been charges made against me that I am racist and sexist to white men.

"I want to explain why this is false. I, an ethnic minority woman, cannot be racist or sexist towards white men, because racism and sexism describes structures of privilege based on race and gender.
"And therefore women of colour and minority genders cannot be racist or sexist because we do not stand to benefit from such a system.
"In order for our actions to be deemed racist or sexist, the current system would have to be one that enables only people of colour and women to benefit economically and socially on such a large scale and to the systematic exclusion of white people and men, who for the past 400 years would have to have been subjected to block colonisation.

"We do not live in such a system, we do not know of such a history, reverse racism and reverse sexism are not real."

First, this fails in reciprocity. Treat others how you want to be treated.

"Hey let's round up people based on their race and put them in a death camp!" should be considered racist who ever says it. Some people prefer chauvinism and think their racial hatred should be acceptable.

This definition enables racism against minorities.  "Hey, [ethnic slur], get in the back of the bus!" should be considered racist if uttered by an African to a Korean or vice versa. Her definition would mean that neither is racist.

If benefiting is the essential requirement of racism then wouldn't that mean a hotel owner who refuses to serve black customers is damaging his own business by turning away customers and is not benefiting from the discrimination.

It seems to me sadism is worse than someone benefiting. It is disturbing that treating another person badly isn't seen as poor behavior in and of itself.

Her notion that 400 years of discrimination until a minority could be considered racist is an appalling support of transgenerational race-based punishment. Fortunately, few people support punishing children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren for the deeds of their ancestors. Strangely, she doesn't seem to consider that transgenerational could be used against her.

400 years would suggest (about 25 years per generation) that she approves of punishing the great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandchildren not for any abuse dished out by the 16th generation grandparent –the individual's actions are irrelevant – but for the misdeeds of people who share the same race as the 16th generation grandparent.

I can't help but think of the similarity to the Curse of Ham being used as a justification of the slavery of the supposed descendants of Ham.

Some people aren't opposed to people suffering but just want to put the yoke of suffering around the neck of someone else.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The War on Metaphor

A tweet from Richard Horton (‏@richardhorton1) who is the editor in chief of the UK medical journal the Lancet and totalitarian crankypants :
The NRA's use of the "war" metaphor is an illegal incitement to violence and should be prosecuted.…
 [link to a BBC story about an NRA official saying "This is not a battle about gun rights,'' Mr Porter told attendees on Friday, saying it was "a culture war".]

Classic war on metaphor… Oops, did I say war? He is campaigning against … oops a campaign is a war metaphor too. He's targeting …ah, no.  He's going to the barricades to … nevermind. 

He even recognizes and identifies it as a metaphor! Unlike some people who don't understand (or pretend not to understand) that a metaphor is not literal, he identifies that a figure of speech is being used but unfortunately that makes him sound like even more of a book burning totalitarian.

First metaphors are jailable, then similes, then allegories, then onomatopoeia and then, well, he'll just make up a reason after you're in jail.

Speaking of war, guess who wrote a book called Health Wars? The very same Richard Horton.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Some people are bad at math with other people's money

Currency by Denis Beaubois, 2011
(aka $20,000 AUD cash)

Denis Beaubois received a $20,000 grant from the Australia Council for the Arts. According to the Australia Council for the Arts the "decision date" was July 5, 2010 but it wasn't exhibited until Aug 18-30, 2011 and his "work" was auctioned off Aug 31, 2011. Assuming the government sends its checks promptly, he could have collected interest on the $20,000 for over a year. 

He took the $20,000 AUD in 100 dollar bills and declared the pile of 2 bundles of money to be art. He titled it the creative name "Currency." It was then auctioned off with a high bid of $17,500 AUD but with the buyer's premium the total was $21,350 AUD. I suspect the high bidder may have gotten carried away or hadn't known the correct percentage charged for the buyer's premium. 

Some of you might notice that $17,500 is noticeably less than $20,000 while some art majors might not. Spending $20,000 to get a return of $17,500 does not seem like the best business plan. It seems Australian arts funding isn't focused on efficiency. But don't worry, he wasn't spending his own hard earned money.

(note some of the pdf links I had found no longer work since I originally wrote this post and were removed and I can't find the replacements. This is not necessarily a complete list. A searchable database is here)
in 1995-1996 he received $8,200 for a "hybrid art project"
in 1997 he received $6,200 for Presentation and Promotion to "O'seas"
in 1998-99 he received $8,045 for Presentation and Promotion to Germany and the Netherlands
in 1999-2000 he received $5,694 for "new work"
in 2000-2001 he received $8,930 for promotion in the USA
in 2001-2002 he received $8,000 for "Part-time residency at UNSW to work with forensic psychologists"
in 2005-2006 he received $20,000 for "new work"
in 2007 he received $20,000 to "Create new video works ‘video for living room’"
in 2010/11 $20,000 to be sold as a pile of cash.
in 2012 he received $20,000 to "Research theories of Capitalism and the Banking system to produce a series of new artworks"

I wonder what percent of grant recipients have previously received a grant?

You'd think the Council would require the grant recipients to send a photo of their work into the council website so people (ie the people paying for it) could see what they've been up to. Imagine a series of photos of Denis Beaubois sitting in a chair between July 5, 2010 and August, 2011 thinking and planning and practicing (counting and stacking bills) and learning the necessary skills ("Hi, I'd like to withdraw $20,000 in cash") and then executing his project.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

How Orwellian : "Event organizer offers no apology after thwarted attack in Texas"

The headline at the Washington Post reads :
Event organizer offers no apology after thwarted attack in Texas

One who just skims the headlines might be led to believe that the event organizer had organized the attack. Not so.

The line of thinking is similar to Garry Trudeau's suggestion that Charlie Hebdo staff "incited" their own murders. The notion is that Pamela Geller organizing an event caused people to attack it. Would they ever claim a broad group of adults lacked moral agency?

It seems only if they encounter a contradiction between what "everyone knows" / "things you can't say" and reality. The solution seems to be to rephrase reality so that "everyone knows" factoid can stay standing.

Like the previous post suggesting that media outlets that ostensibly show a Mohammed cartoon but censor it are signalling compliance, there is another signaling going on : to signal "I'm not one of 'those' people."

It says "*I* follow the social rules." If you can't say "some muslims refuse to accept the American level of freedom of expression" then the source of agency must be elsewhere. 

It seems to be a social set of rules. Trudeau's punching up/punching down distinction stands out because Trudeau appoints himself as the person determining which way is up.

People with guns executing unarmed people in a magazine office? Ah, well the people with guns are members of a minority group (note that this can override the circumstances of a specific individual). They can keep adding criteria to analyze until they reach the destination they want.

from Ace of Spades :
1. To speak of Islamist violence, or to suggest there is a problem in Islam, is racist, and hateful, and irrational, and "islamophobic."
2. It is so predictable that Islamists will kill you if you say something "anti-Islamic" that victims of murder attempts can be said to have brought their attacks on themselves.
It depends on who says it. These are social rules with the consistency of High School cliques. 

Immediately after the Boston Marathon Bombing, Esquire's Charles P. Pierce (who, by the way, is an idiot) wrote :
Obviously, nobody knows anything yet, but I would caution folks jumping to conclusions about foreign terrorism to remember that this is the official Patriots Day holiday in Massachusetts, celebrating the Battles at Lexington and Concord, and that the actual date (April 19) was of some significance to, among other people, Tim McVeigh, because he fancied himself a waterer of the tree of liberty and the like.

Don't jump to conclusions is a fine sentiment, but he does so want to disparage someone. Don't jump to conclusions about foreigners when you can jump to conclusions about your fellow citizens. There are socially unacceptable targets of venom and there are socially acceptable targets of venom.

from the NYTimes editorial by the NYT Editorial Board titled "Free Speech vs. Hate Speech" :
There is also no question that however offensive the images, they do not justify murder, and that it is incumbent on leaders of all religious faiths to make this clear to their followers.
But it is equally clear that the Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest in Garland, Tex., was not really about free speech. It was an exercise in bigotry and hatred posing as a blow for freedom.
(As an aside, note that the New York Times Editorial Board views religions as hierarchal with followers and leaders and nary a mention of books or ideas.)

In the editorial, the Times draws a distinction between free speech vs hate speech depending on who is speaking. What is being said is pushed off to near irrelevance so the exact same thing can be said by two different people and one can be noble Free Speech while the other is odious Hate Speech.  More importantly, the New York Times appoints itself as the arbitrator of who is or who is not an acceptable speaker.
Charlie Hebdo is a publication whose stock in trade has always been graphic satires of politicians and religions, whether Catholic, Jewish or Muslim. By contrast, Pamela Geller, the anti-Islam campaigner behind the Texas event, has a long history of declarations and actions motivated purely by hatred for Muslims.
The NYTimes defense of Charlie Hebdo as free speech, in contrast to Geller's hate speech, is that they have a broader range of targets. That is to say, Charlie Hebdo is not as offensive as Geller because they are more offensive to more people.