Veronese: Master of colour and structure.

Sometimes, when you’re walking through the gallery, you come across a painting that stops you in your tracks. Often,  you’ve never seen before and it’s by one of the myriad artists that you’ve never heard of. And the gallery is the Hermitage.

 The painting is The Mystic Marriage of Saint Catherine from the Workshop-of-Paolo-Caliari,-called-il-Veronese is one such painting. And it is by one of the most famous Renaissance painters.

This painting depicts Catherine of Alexandria, who before her martyrdom was mystically married to Christ by the Virgin Mary, a ceremony seen as an allegory of the pious soul’s spiritual betrothal to God. Here she is richly dressed and crowned (the Golden Legend records that she was of royal birth) and kneels on part of the broken wheel on which she was to have been executed. With one hand the Christ Child takes the ring from the young John the Baptist, unique in Veronese’s depictions of this subject, and with his other he takes Catherine’s hand to receive it. (Royal Collection Trust)

What is so immediately striking about this painting is the way in which Veronese uses colour as a major structural component. The brown flesh tones of the four women, the Christ child and be seraphim form the cross structure of the painting running from the top right bottom left. The other structural element is from slightly stooped figure of John the Baptist through Catherine and Christ child running at right angles. This sets up the major tension in the painting which runs through the figure of Catherine.  Notice how the orange colours of John the Baptist’s cloak link through the garments of Catherine and her attendant and blue of John Baptist through links to the cloak of Catherine in the bottom right of the picture. And then the curve of John the Baptist’s arm swoops round includes the head of the seraphim, picks up Catherine’s arm and comes to include the Christ child. Brilliant

It is truly a masterwork of structure and colour. 

Some students waiting for their first round university offer will suffer anxiety levels equal to those of first time parachute jumpers

In 2000, I published a paper with Kosmas X.Smyrnios, & Charles Osborne entitled A Cusp Catastrophe Analysis of Anxiety Levels in Pre-university Students in The Journal of Psychology.

It involved getting students to fill out an anxiety questionnaire just before and after receiving their first round offer of the University place. Naturally, the results varied. Some students who were certain they would give their first-round offer were not anxious at all. Some who were uncertain of receiving a first-round offer, initially experienced high levels of anxiety and when they found they had been successful, experienced huge drops in anxiety levels. Those who were uncertain and unsuccessful, maintained their anxiety levels. Generally, the anxiety levels often approached those of first time parachute jumpers.

Although the research to not investigate all the causes of anxiety, it is highly likely that the uncertainty surrounding the cut-off point for entry into some courses contributed to the anxiety levels.

Anyone who is interested in reading the paper can send me an email at thaslett@bigpond.net.au


Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party to run candidates in all 151 seats in the next federal election. Now that’s a good idea!

Just a bit of history first.

In the house of Reps, in 2013 Palmer got just under 710,000 votes, and one seat, his own in Fairfax. In 2016, he got just 315 votes. In 2019, he will have to buck the trend.

In the Senate in 2013 Palmer got 4.9% of the vote and three Senate seats . In 2016, he got 0.19% and no seats.

Clearly, Australian public has not been impressed by the performance of Palmer or PUP.

None of its Parliamentary representatives has been re-elected and Lambie was disqualified under the dual citizenship regulations. The party has also been plagued by resignations which you can see on the Wikipedia website.

.Source Wikipedia

One wonders what makes him think he can reverse this disastrous trend. He has already sent SMS messages to 5.6 million Australians in an almost certainly mistaken assumption that this will make people like him

Palmer’s track record in selecting candidates who stick around is not great. Remember these guys?

Dio Wang, Jacqui Lambie, Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party senator Ricky Muir  and Glenn Lazarus pose with was Palmer in happier days.  Both Lazarus and Lambie quit the party and Muir pulled out of the alliance. It hardly speaks well of Palmer’s ability as a political leader when two thirds of the party get jack of him.

There is a high probability that this time round there will be a high proportion of political adventurers, oddballs, screwballs, right-wing weirdos and all manner of loonies sneaking under the selection radar and all keen to have their 15 minutes of fame. There’s not much chance of any of them being elected but they will certainly be able to do a fair amount of damage to the UAP brand in the run-up to the election.

The logistics of selecting 151 candidates before closing date for nominations for the next election, which is at best four months away, would be a formidable task even for a major established political party, let alone one that was establishing June 2018. Unless Clive is going to do all the interviews himself, the party will need to establish interview committees in all of the electorates. Even that is a a formidable task.

And all this work when none of them have a snowball’s chance been elected.

Education Minister James Molino’s proposal for testing teaching graduates for numeracy and literacy may look like a good idea but it sidesteps the real problem

Naturally, he is concerned that some teaching graduates do not meet acceptable standards of numeracy and literacy. It is highly desirable that they enter the teaching profession. But it would also have been more desirable that they hadn’t started teaching degree in the first place, let alone completed one. This is the real issue.

Source Sydney Morning Herald

The question is one of quality control. And one of the major tenants of quality control is that you do not test for quality at the end of the process because it’s too late at that stage. You have wasted all your time, effort and money producing a dud product.

The first important principles is to have the correct raw materials, namely students with sufficient ATAR score in Maths and English before they begin a teaching degree. The second important principle of quality control is that quality control checks are built into the process. This would mean that numeracy and literacy standards are built into all subjects in teaching programs. If it is obvious that students literacy skills are not up to scratch while they are completing any element of a teacher education course, they should be given remedial programs or failed.

This may mean that the Ministry of Education needs to have a hard look at the programs that the universities are running in teacher education to ensure that the standards of numeracy and literacy ensure that the graduates meet the required standards so that it is not necessary to test the graduates after they have graduated.

It’s actually appalling to think that a graduate of a university may not have sufficient numeracy and literacy standards to teach in a Victorian school.

Sometimes you think that maybe Qantas is more than Jetstar trying a bit harder but then you fly with them and you think “Nah”

I’m regularly bombarded by emails from Qantas, which appear impossible to unsubscribe, glossy, wonderful pictures of this great airline, smiling staff, wonderful destinations et cetera et cetera. Recently flew with them to Perth and the reality is quite different. And it’s the same old Qantas: Remember, Cancelled the Friday night flight from Sydney to Melbourne because it’s not full.

This time, it’s summed up by the ground staff at Perth airport, abrasive to the point of rudeness, their customer service motto appears to be “We’re Qantas, we’re right, you’re the customer, you’re wrong.” Not just one, but repeatedly.

Not on our flight

And the technology doesn’t work, not once but repeatedly. 

And you find, without knowing that you are booked into an international flight, with no seat selection, next to the toilet and forced to go through customs and security Melbourne airport which is always a nightmare. 

And then Border Security has to check all the Qantas domestic passengers that are flying on a Qantas international flight from Perth to Sydney. This is a complete waste of taxpayers’ money and simply a matter of a decision by Qantas to fill up its international flights. Disgraceful.

Clive Palmer is running again. But whatever speed Clive can muster, it won’t be enough.

Clive Palmer is running for Parliament again. His campaign to date seems to be based on some fairly stupid ideas such as claiming to be the direct political descendant of Billy Hughes and Joseph Lyons. Most Australians who understand in the Australian history will find this suggestion simply preposterous. He seems to be basing his political strategy on that of Donald Trump “Just keep doing stupid and outrageous things. They just might work.” It will be interesting to see if Australians are as gullible as Americans

He has established a new political party calling it, the United Australia Party.“the precursor to the Liberal Party, which provided two prime ministers in the 1930s and 1940s: Joseph Lyons and Billy Hughes.

Billy Hughes and Joseph Lyons

Mr Palmer claims them both as former prime ministers of his own party, although Billy Hughes, who only ever led the UAP in opposition served as prime minister under other parties. Sydney Morning Herald

 It is also the party that was the forerunner of the modern Liberal party under Robert Menzies. Trying to connect himself with Hughes, Lyons and by implication with Menzies should piss a few people off.

He has decided to run in the Townsville seat of Herbert, the home of his collapsed Queensland Nickel refinery where his sacked workers still claim they are owed large sums of money in entitlements and superannuation. It’s hard to imagine an electorate where Palmer would be less popular.

Palmer could well be so unpopular in the seat of be song that he could lose his deposit

As a result, Anthony Green, the ABC polling guru, ranks Palmer’s chances in the seat of Herbert as ” nil”.

The third reason is that he will be one of a crowded field of independents and unlikely to finish within striking distance of the top polling candidate. The fourth reason is that the Australian electorate has seen Palmer at work in the Federal Parliament on the rather infrequent occasions that he attended. It wasn’t always an edifying sight.

Palmer has indicated that he, or rather his companies are prepared to spend a lot of money on the election. He claims that so far this has included sending text messages to 5.6 million Australian voters and presumably he intends contacting every voting Australian before the election. One can only assume that he thinks this will make people like and vote for him. You only have to read that sentence to realise what a stupid assumption that it is.

Having said all that, no circus is complete with clown and Clive is always good for a laugh.


Scott Morrison says he’s not ashamed to speak up in favour of standards

The trouble with politicians saying things like this is that the standards they talk about are their own standards and they want to impose them on the other people.

Case in point is that Morrison wants to impose dress codes on citizenship ceremonies. He claims that some people are not showing sufficient respect for Australian standards in the way they dress for these ceremonies.

Scott (My way or the highway) Morrison

The difficulty with this approach is that the standards of that of a rather narrow and, often religious, group whose views do not reflect those of the majority of the population.

Morrison’s claim that he will improve the dress standards at citizenship ceremonies is similar in type, if not in magnitude and seriousness, to Trump’s claim that drugs are flowing in across the border with Mexico. In fact, most drugs enter the US through the ports. The US media is so used to the US president lying that it’s fact checking systems pick things like this up pretty quickly.

But with Morrison’s claim on the standards of dress at citizenship ceremonies, there’s no evidence to suggest the need for a prime ministerial intervention. So Morrison simply claims to be defending the standards at an important Australian institution without any evidence that they actually need to be defended. It’s a cheap trick.

There are over 570 councils running citizenship ceremonies. Imagine being the council officer in charge of telling the guy in jeans in the front row he has to go home get changed

In an exercise of political dog whistling, Morrison is also fervently establishing his patriotic credentials by saying he will not shift the date of Australia Day. No better time than Australia Day to say that you are not changing the date of Australia Day.

Dr Samuel Johnson said “Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.”

Every voting Australian should read this piece by the Barnaby Joyce printed in The Australian today

The Australian printed and article by Barnaby Joyce entitled “Chaos is just one vote away.”

I have reproduced below. It is truly appalling but worth reading it because he is a member of Parliament and was once Deputy Prime Minister.

The new year is going to change our nation. This may be a trite, repetitious warning, but this time it is going to happen. We have arrived at the space where indoctrination has beaten logic.

We want an economy that has no baseload power but does have cheap power.

We export uranium but refuse to use it

We make little to nothing but close down export markets such as the live sheep trade.

We have a lower standard of education than Singapore but believe the Asian market will want the services of Sydney.

The Greens want to jail people who export thermal coal.

It won’t work guys you’re going to get smashed.

Poll after poll predicts we will vote in a Greens-Labor-independent government that is promising payments from an economy they are closing down, so the only other place to get money for the promises is your savings. If you want their nirvana then find yourself an excellent accountant You will need one.

If you believe Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane are congested, well, suck it up, because more people from God knows what country are on their way. They will come because they want to  under the circumstances they choose.

Do you say the words “son” or “daughter” they are now to be neuter people.

The right of the objecting individual will reign supreme over the complacent, polite broader body.

The Greens-Labor-Independent Alliance has its philosophical totems which it enforces by guilt to place more caveats over your assets and impositions over your income streams.

You have already fallen for it.

You stood by and let farmers be dispossessed of their vegetation rights because of global warming.

You will buy cars of their prescription because of global warming.

You will not eat meat because of global warming.

You fell for it, Sucker. Just keep handlng over your sovereignty.

I know, you don’t want to be involved, because it’s kind of awkward and impolite. That is not the problem for the far left, which is running to the election and not having to fire shot before they take you to the New World of the Teachers Federation and the Construction Forestry Maritime Mining and Energy Union.

As I noted in my book  Weatherboard and Iron  this may be bitter dirge that is one that is going to be sungto you in six months.

The  Labor Party will play the quiet game. It is too cunning to be led to a hostile battlefield when it can shoot us in a clear field from its own forest.

I live in a rented house but you don’t. No brother, you are going to pay because when they get their money out of your house by taking away your brothers because of the loss of negative gearing, it will be your problem and nobody else’s.

And remember, they don’t believe it is morally right that you have that wealth.

The election is not about Malcolm or Morrison or Mother Teresa leading the government.

It’s whether you will have a left-wing socialist government or a conservative government–a government which believes it if you work hard and earn money it should be protected. Or a government that thinks that your money should pay for its promises for its mates utopia.

 

I’m at a loss to know why The Australian has printed this. However, they have published an article by the number of senior women in the Liberal party saying that party does not have a problem with women. And in the same pape they have published an article by one of the men who seems to have incredible problems with women.

The problem is that I probably live in a parallel universe

Sister Wendy Beckett’s 10 Rules for Engaging with Art

Sister Wendy, a cloistered nun whose passion for art led her to wander out into the world, where she became a star of global proportions, entertained the television masses with her frank humanist assessments.

Unphased by nudity, carnality, and other sensual excesses, she initially came across as a funny-looking, grandma-aged virgin in an old-fashioned habit, lisping rhapsodically about appendages and entanglements we expect most Brides of Christ to shy away from.

 

Visit museums

They are the prime locus where the uniqueness of an artist’s work can be encountered.

Prioritize quality time over quantity of works viewed

Sociologists, lurking inconspicuously with stopwatches, have discovered the average time museum visitors spend looking at a work of art: it is roughly two seconds. We walk all too casually through museums, passing objects that will yield up their meaning and exert their power only if they are seriously contemplated in solitude.

Fly solo

If Sister Wendy could spend over four decades sequestered in a small mobile home on the grounds of Carmelite monastery in Norfolk, surely you can go alone. Do not complicate your contemplation by tethering yourself to a friend who cannot wait to exit through the gift shop.

Buy a postcard

…take it home for prolonged and (more or less) distractionless contemplation. If we do not have access to a museum, we can still experience reproductions—books, postcards, posters, television, film—in solitude, though the work lacks immediacy. We must, therefore, make an imaginative leap (visualizing texture and dimension) if reproduction is our only possible access to art. Whatever the way in which we come into contact with art, the crux, as in all serious matters, is how much we want the experience. The encounter with art is precious, and so it costs us in terms of time, effort, and focus.

Pull up a chair, whenever possible

It has been well said that the basic condition for art appreciation is a chair.

Don’t hate on yourself for being a philistine.

However inviolate our self-esteem, most of us have felt a sinking of the spirit before a work of art that, while highly praised by critics, to us seems meaningless. It is all too easy to conclude, perhaps subconsciously, that others have a necessary knowledge or acumen that we lack.

Take responsibility for educating yourself…

Art is created by specific artists living in and fashioned by a specific culture, and it helps to understand this culture if we are to understand and appreciate the totality of the work. This involves some preparation. Whether we choose to “see” a totem pole, a ceramic bowl, a painting, or a mask, we should come to it with an understanding of its iconography. We should know, for example, that a bat in Chinese art is a symbol for happiness and a jaguar in Mesoamerican art is an image of the supernatural. If need be, we should have read the artist’s biography: the ready response to the painting of Vincent van Gogh or Rembrandt, or of Caravaggio or Michelangelo, comes partly from viewers’ sympathy with the conditions, both historical and temperamental, from which these paintings came.

…but don’t be a prisoner to facts and expert opinions

A paradox: we need to do some research, and then we need to forget it…We have delimited a work if we judge it in advance. Faced with the work, we must try to dispel all the busy suggestions of the mind and simply contemplate the object in front of us. The mind and its facts come in later, but the first, though prepared, experience should be as undefended, as innocent, and as humble as we can make it.

Celebrate our common humanity

Art is our legacy, our means of sharing in the spiritual greatness of other men and women—those who are known, as with most of the great European painters and sculptors, and those who are unknown, as with many of the great carvers, potters, sculptors, and painters from Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America. Art represents a continuum of human experience across all parts of the world and all periods of history.

Listen to others but see with your own eyes

We should listen to the appreciations of others, but then we should put them aside and advance toward a work of art in the loneliness of our own truth.

Morrison calls on shoppers to shop to save his government

 

ScoMo has urged voters to ‘get shopping’ as retailers sweat on last-minute sales while claiming the threat of Labor’s negative gearing policy was having a negative impact on consumer sentiment.

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The Age reports that it is more likely that sluggish household consumption figures have been the dumbbell weighing down Australia’s economic growth over the past year, as consumers shut their wallets thanks to the triple threat of low wage growth, falling house prices and rising energy costs.

The problem with poor retail sales over Christmas is that it is a drain on GST tax returns and this affects the budget going into the next election. Not a good look for the Coalition.

The problem with this message is most people spend on credit cards so Morrison is basically encouraging people to increase levels of credit card debt, already very high in Australia.

The other interesting aspect of this message is that Morrison has linked the drop in Christmas spending to the Labor Party’s expressed policy of limiting negative gearing.  There is no evidence for this claim and cause-and-effect are distant in both time and space.

Morrison has simply trotted out as a stocking filler at Christmas. When is he going to realise the Australian electorate is a little bit smarter than this, even at Christmas.

It is more likely that people are spending less this Christmas because they don’t have as much money as result of stagnant wages growth.

This is something that Treasurer Josh Frydenberg did not mention in his budget update when he spoke about the Coalition’s wonderful economic management which is approaching budget surplus.

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The strong economic growth is a result of higher tax returns from strong coal and iron exports to China, nothing to do with government policies, something Ross Gittins of the Sydney Morning Herald pointed out.

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Frydenberg is a smart bloke but this disingenuous nonsense does his credibility no good. We expect this from people like Morrison, Tony Abbott, Eric abets and Barnaby Joyce.

But people have Frydenberg marked as a future Prime Minister and it’s becoming increasingly obvious that the Australian electorate is no longer going to suffer fools gladly.

And he has an opportunity to separate himself from the rest of the pack.

The days of just standing up saying anything you think you can get away with are over.