Missing Monet Moments in Modern Art

Brought to you by this announcement: https://mymodernmet.com/metropolitan-museum-of-art-open-access/

“Renowned for its comprehensive collection of work that captures “5,000 years of art spanning all cultures and time periods,” New York City’s world famous Metropolitan Museum of Art has recently announced that 375,000 of its pieces in the public domain are now available without restrictions.”

Cool 🙂

Hugosauriad 4.3: Doctor Who — Dinosaurs on a Spaceship

The 1960s brought a new dimension to science fiction fandom with the arrival of what would become iconic television series. In the US Star Trek had an immediate impact on the World Science Fiction convention and the Hugo awards. The 1967 Hugo Awards had three episodes of the first season nominated for Best Dramatic Presentation, one of which (The Menagerie) won the award.

There are silurians hibernating underground…

Why I’m Not Buying The Guardian Anymore

This is painful. Aside from The Guardian newspaper being one of the few independent and largely reliable news sources available, it is also a newspaper I’ve been reading since I was a kid. Over the years, as I’ve travelled round the world I would by The Guardian Weekly to catch up on UK news and later would subscribe to the newspaper electronically.

The backlash against recognising the basic human rights of transgender people has taken many forms. It is no surprise to find right wing extremists demonising and dehumanising people because of their gender but the anti-trans element of the centre & left has also been vocal, particularly in the UK. In the process supposedly progressive voices have adopted far-right rhetoric and modes of argument to push positions that will make life as difficult as possible for transgender and gender non-conforming people.

The Guardian and it’s Sunday equivalent The Observer appears to have had a degree of internal conflict over the past few years. Opinion pieces pushing alarmist arguments on the topic of people transitioning or transgender people in sport have been frequent. However, the agenda against transgender people has extended into news articles.

Consider this article:

Politicised trans groups put children at risk, says expert:Counsellors and other mental health providers fear being labelled transphobic.
School counsellors and mental health service providers are bowing to pressures from ‘highly politicised’ transgender groups to affirm children’s beliefs that they were born the wrong sex, a leading expert has warned.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/jul/27/trans-lobby-pressure-pushing-young-people-to-transition

Once you get into the article it becomes clear that what is being cited is the opinion of just one person. However, the structure of the headline and the piece is designed to create the impression that these are all likely events corroborated by an ‘expert’ as opposed to this being an inflammatory opinion by a guy with an beef against his ex-employer. More pertinently nowhere in the article is any space given to anybody to refute these claims. Specifically no spokesperson for any “trans groups” is asked for comment, no school counsellor or mental health service provider who doesn’t think they are “bowing to pressure” is asked.

The article breaches multiple aspects of The Guardian’s own code of conduct (https://www.scribd.com/document/273521476/Editorial-Guidelines#fullscreen&from_embed ) most obviously Article 2 of the Editors Code “Right to Reply”.

The hostility to transgender people within The Guardian has also become clear with at least two people having resigned because of a culture of intimidation: https://www.buzzfeed.com/patrickstrudwick/two-transgender-employees-quit-guardian-transphobia

This shouldn’t be hard. It really shouldn’t. I understand that shifting attitudes and just simply paying attention to the issues is something that many progressive cisgender people have had to work through — I know I have had to dump a whole pile of toxic ideas and casual assumptions. However, there’s some basic touchstones of human decency that should set off alarm bells for anybody who regards themselves as not just progressive but basically a decent human being: if you words and attitudes and opinions are DIRECTLY HURTING PEOPLE then you have a moral obligation to STOP and reconsider.

Timothy Reads The Call of Cthulhu

Greetings one and all and everyone. I am sure as sure can be that you are tired of dino-this and dino-that and would rather hear from an entertaining cat. Oh it may not be “PC” these days to talk about Hewlett Packard Lovercraft but I am not one to bow to the pressure of the “socialist justice” crowd. No sir! I am not about to censor our past and vandalise history by forever casting out a writer just because he was a man of his time who, like many fine people at that point in history thought that all sorts of people were out to get him and where constantly whispering about him behind his back. Frankly, as one of the foremost scholars of Mr Lovercraft I find the claims that he was anti-Semtic and anti-black, just because his works and letters are full of “slurs”, “stereotypes”, “prolonged racist rants” and “extraordinarily paranoid world views in which everybody who wasn’t a middle class anglo-saxon man from New England was probably all part of one or several satanic-like cults conspiring to get him and if you were a middle class anglo-saxon man from New England then you had probably been already driven mad by one or several satanic-like cults and now were also out to get him”.

By far his greatest work is The Call of Cthulhu. Now you might think this is about a phone call from somebody called Cthulhu or you might thing this is about the sound a cthulhu makes when it is lost in the woods after maybe you had got a pet cthulhu for Christmas but then decided you didn’t want it after all because you can’t handle the responsibilities of keeping a pet, so you take it out into the woods and abandon it and afterwards you here it’s plaintive cry as you run back to the car and tell you driver to drive away but when you get home you can still here the lonely cry in your sleep but no. That would be too obvious and that’s why I didn’t think those things, particularly not the last one. Lovercraft is just messing with your head with that title because that is how good a writer he is.

Now a lesser writer would just get to the point of his spooky story but not Lovercraft. No. The story starts with a narrator who knew a guy, I forget who he was, maybe his uncle. The uncle had a bunch of notes about a time he saw a statue or maybe the statue was with the notes or vice-versa. It doesn’t matter. The important thing was that there was a statue. The statue was really scary. I don’t mean like when you are quietly eating your dinner and somebody comes up behind you and says “TIMOTHY! That’s not your dinner, that’s a packet of chewable multi-vitamins I bought!” and you are so surprised that you jump up into the air making a banshee-like wail and then have to lie down for a couple of hours to get over the shock. The statue isn’t that kind of “oh my bejeezus” jump in the air scary more like very, very creepy like one of those pictures that follow you round the room or Piers Morgan.

Anyhoo, it so happens that there was this art student who I think might have been a beatnik or a hippy but which apparently is ‘anachronistic’, which I think is a kind of crossword puzzle. The guy is at art school and clearly on all the drugs so how that makes him a newspaper word puzzle and not a hippy I don’t know. He probably should have just started a band with his friends. This hippy had a freaky dream, as hippies do because of smoking too much catnip (we all know what THAT’S like!) and he wakes up and makes this clay statue. He still feels agitated I think, even though the story says the statue was a relief. The hippy gives it to the guy’s uncle and that’s why it’s in his letters. It was commonplace in those days to store random artworks be-quested by hippies in your collected correspondence — I know I still do because I am a cat of tradition. Anyway the hippy had a bad-trip, made a statue, freaked out for a bit and then quit drugs and leaves our story a happier man. Probably smartens up, leaves art school and studies something proper like Business Commerce and works for a bank now. So a happy ending.

Now a lesser writer would have left the story there as a salutary lesson on clean-living and making careful choices. But Lovercraft is a master craftsman, indeed a lovercraftsman. The letters go on to note that Americans find people bothersome in the Philippines, to which Cam says “seriously, how can you read this racist rubbish” and to which I say “bothersome” is hardly the worst thing you can say about people. Then Cam says “and what about ‘hysterical Levantines’ in the same sentence” and I’m not sure what that is, which means it can’t be racist. I mean, if Lovercraft was trying to be racist he’d have used words I can understand.

In chapter two, the narrator talks to a policeman. The policeman also had a wacky statue. This one was made of a substance that nobody could understand, like silly putty or something. He took it to a bunch of scientists and they were all like “what the heck is this!” and the policeman is like “I don’t know that’s why I was asking you guys because you are a bunch of scientists”. Anyway one of the scientists says that it is like something he saw in Greenland and the policeman is like “well I found it in a swamp”.

“Do I really have to keep reading this?” said Camestros at this point.
“Yes, you promised me a bed time story!” I replied.
“It’s 10 am,” he replied back chronometrically.
“That’s my bed time!” I explained. “I promise it won’t give me nightmares!”
“I’m more worried that it will turn you into a Nazi,” he said Godwins-Lawishly.
“Back to the story!” I said.
“OK, so the policeman is off into the swamp to arrest people for heinous crime of swamp worship without a licence…”

The policeman’s investigation had taken him deep into the southern swamp lands, a place so scary that squatters whispered that bat-winged devils flew up out of caverns. “That would just be bats then, wouldn’t it?” said Camestros, “Scary looking creatures with bat wings that fly out of caverns are just bats.” Which is missing the point, these were very scary bats. Much scarier than usual.

Anyway, after shooting the swamp worshippers and arresting the one he hadn’t shot, the policeman discovers they are all part of the CULT OF CTHULHU! All the scientist agree that the policeman’s story must be true because he has a creepy statue and what other explanation could there be?

Is that spooky enough for you? Well any other writer would probably have left it just there and maybe looked at the word count and maybe said “I have no idea where I’m going with this!” but not Lovercraft! The narrator is so spooked by all of this that he does what any sane man would do and catches a boat to New Zealand. Everybody knows that New Zealand is the best place to start an investigation into spooky things. For a start everybody is very nice and helpful in New Zealand, so if something spooky happens they will help you out and give you tasty treats like pineapple lumps and call you “bro”.

From New Zealand the narrator goes to Sydney, which quite frankly is a tourist trap. He’d have been better off staying in Auckland or maybe Wellington and going on a Lord of the Rings tour. He then goes to a museum where the geologists have a monstrous puzzle — maybe another crossword or maybe one of those jigsaw puzzles and they can’t find the box with the picture on it. I bet the picture is a picture of Cthulhu but the narrator can’t stay in Sydney probably because the hotels are too pricey and AirBnB hadn’t been invented yet. So from Sydney he travels to the nearby city of Oslo in Norway. In Oslo he must have eaten some bad fish or something because he now felt gnawing at his vitals that dark terror which will never leave him till he, too, am at rest; “accidentally” or otherwise. I had a very similar experience in Norway. Do NOT trust them when they offer you the “special” fish “accidentally” or otherwise.

Anyhoo, toilet issues notwithstanding, the narrator spoke to a sailor in Oslo who told him about the time he was sailing and found a big city that was ancient but which had clearly been designed by art-deco architects from Italy. Which goes to show that Cthulhu may be an ancient demonic god-being whose very existence drives men mad but he is happy to invest in fancy Italian design.

Anyways, ooops! The sailors had accidental-like woken up Cthulhu who was a big monster. “Run away” they all shouted and got back in their ship and sailed off. Cthulhu jumps in the water shouting “Wait for me!” and starts swimming after the ship. This is so funny that one of the sailors laughs so hard that he goes mad and dies, The Cthulhu explodes and then he is all back together again but the ship has got away because Cthulhu may be an elder being from dimensions beyond imagining but he’s not a strong swimmer having skipped swimming lessons as a kid.

“I thought the ending would be scarier.” I said to Camestros.
“Oh, it’s plenty scary when you think about it.” he replied.
“How come?” I asked sleepily.
“Well this overlong, poorly structured, confused and rambling story which somehow manages to insult, belittle and demonise poor people from Greenland, North America, the Caribbean, the Middle-East and the Pacific, with a monster that does nothing but lurk and swim badly, is somehow a cultural touchstone for modern pop-culture. Now that’s scary.” He said.
“Oh shut up.” I said but by that point I had at last gone to sleep.

An SVG test…

I hadn’t realised the new(ish) WordPress editor has a custom HTML block. In theory that should let me put SVG graphics on a blog page now. I’m just testing it. You should see a yellow circle with a green circumference.

It previews OK but the proof is in the posting.

ETA: Nope. The SVG code gets removed when the whole thing posts.

I’m getting weird traffic

It is somewhat churlish to complain about people visiting this humble blog but I am getting weird numbers of people visiting a specific post.

I posted this semi-review on August 4 https://camestrosfelapton.wordpress.com/2019/08/04/i-didnt-finish-even-one-episode-of-another-life-on-netflix/

It was included in the File 770 Pixel Scroll for August 3 (a day ‘earlier’ due to time zones not Mike’s time machine). Which is nice and always a boost for traffic and interest, but also not an wildly unusual occurrence.

Then yesterday traffic went through the roof on the article as in one and a half thousand unique visits. I cannot figure out why. It’s a bad review of a series that has lots of bad reviews. I talk about chairs more than most of the other reviews but otherwise it isn’t a particularly novel take on things.

A lot of the traffic appears to be coming from “Google News” which is even more strange because Google News does not appear to carry any direct links to my blog. I’m not a news source even by the very lax standards of Google News and I’ve tried a bunch of search terms and this blog doesn’t appear.

It is probably some sort of bot traffic but I’m not getting more spam than usual. Most of the extra traffic seems to be from the US.