Thursday 25th of April 2019

happy like a wrinkled pumpkin rotting on a heap of pH deficient manure... (updated)...


Update: fire at Notre Dame, Paris — blame the Russians, the Yellow Vests, global warming, Quasimodo, the Phantom of the Opera, the Poms still reeling about the fire at Winsdor Castle, Putin, the Muslims, Brexit and at a stretch Donald Trump who in his presidential wisdom would have ordered water bombers to kill off the fire.  Gus primary analysis of this fire, like many of these fires on old buidings with wooden framed roofs, suggests dust is the culprit. Old dust has destroyed many old buidings, started these days with an arc welder, or an acetylene cutter, rather than a candle. See article restoration gone wrong...? 


Back to the original article.

Dismal news over the wire from Blighty: Sir Roger Scruton, the greatest living conservative philosopher, has been dismissed as chair of the British government’s Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission after making a few anodyne remarks to the New Statesman about the Communist Party of China. “They’re creating robots out of their own people,” quoth Sir Roger, “each Chinese person is a kind of replica of the next one and that is a very frightening thing.

Predictably, the Wets and Labourites are offended on behalf of totalitarians over this nonexistent racial slight. Meanwhile, normal people are offended by the CPC’s latest experiment in social engineering, the Social Credit system, which is indeed meant to turn the populace into well-managed and safely predictable automata. To call the Communists’ machinations “frightening” is positively charitable.

Obviously, Sir Dear Roger and his supporters of his comments about China, have not watched the Trump train in action, the revelation by Assange and Snowden about the way the US administration secretly spies on its people without giving credits, but only brickbats. Roger and his supporters obviously have not watched the very popular Chinese show, called “She is the One”, and its derivative with parental approval, where Scruton would have seen a many different Chinese faces and not a single god in the construct of happy Chinese relationships, created with very different looking people on a brightly tinselled modern TV stage. 

In most of the photographs of Roger, he appears as happy as a wrinkled pumpkin rotting on a heap of pH deficient manure. I'm not that good looking myself...

But enough of the sweet and sour descriptions, let's get on with some real black beans stir fry. In an essay on architecture published in The American Conservative, Scruton lodes an old idea about the purpose of gloriously building stuff. He thus refers to Adolf Loos' only two worthwhile applications of art in architecture — the temple and the tomb. This is very well said though it is completely erroneous should you refer to a temple as one of god and a tomb as the resting place for an important person like a Ramses II, or an unknown soldier who makes us think about the futility of war (or about the necessary sacrifice of dying for a psychopath).

This is what Scruton says:

Adolf Loos, founding father of architectural modernism, maintained that only in two of its applications is architecture an art—in the temple and the tomb. For it is only in these structures, built to house the non-existent, that architecture escapes from its everyday function as a shelter against an inhospitable reality. The tomb and the temple are ostensibly built as monuments to the hero or the god contained in them. In fact they are monuments to our own ideals, giving form and mass to purely mental entities

And Scruton's essay goes downhill from here on.

One could be taken by the pompous grandiosity of the vernacular, and dismiss our little abode as not worth a fart though we have toiled to make it honourable enough, but the Scruton idea is totally false for the modern times. A great many of modern architectural buildings are not dedicated to god nor death — unless you take the twin towers demolition on 9/11, as a massive tomb-site. Take the Sydney Opera House for example: no god, no death — but a fine building dedicated to the art of music — possibly one of the most iconic buildings in the world, that people have tried to copy with very limited success. Sure the SOH has its problems though — and so does the Parthenon which lacks a roof. Many fine MODERN buildings are dedicated to cash, like the new European Bank in Frankfurt, and that massive 820+ metre tower in Dubai, not dedicated to allah but to business deals and to the flow of greenbacks. Our present ideals are to make cash and to have a good time making cash. Even many rich people will chose incineration before having a mausoleum built in the worms' honour. The last massive tomb project may have been the one for Napoleon. Hitler never had time to escape his tunnels that became his burial chamber. Not even a modern American General gets a full monument built in his/her honour of battle. One exception though is the resting place of Lenin, that after so many years in public view in Moscow is attracting some unflattering comments and a possible removal. 

We must admit that Supermarkets are often of poor architectural value, except if you go to some department stores in Singapore and Shanghai in China, where the up and down escalator is the king of transportation. But Supermarkets are usually transient buildings, unlike the Guggenheim Gallery or the old Natural History Museum, itself a grandiose tomb for dead animals and some dead rocks we admit. I'm not sure if Roger Scruton is in favour of flogging architects who indulge in designing bridges like that magnificent one, the Millau Viaduct, a cable-stayed bridge on the River Tarn near Millau in southern France, listed in the Guinness Book of World Records in the year 2011 for being the tallest bridge in the world. This is a work of art dedicated to, not a god nor dead people, but faster transport. With Scruton in charge of the British government’s Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission, we could end up with Roman circuses (not really, because these are dedicated to blood sports [like the new Gladys sports stadiums replacing newish Wran's sports stadiums]), Amphitheatres (not really, because these are dedicated to Thespian activities), Churches (not Mosques because Scruton is a rabid Christian) and a massive tomb to bury Theresa May for having done the best she could do to annoy the shit out of Europe and most of the population of the United Kingdom (presently a Queendom). I hope that eventually Scruton sees the silliness of what he wrote by following Adolf Franz Karl Viktor Maria Loos' old ways — unless he was pulling our leg all along and we've been had.

I don't think Roger is devious enough to trick us, but he is intelligent enough to trick himself.



Dunny architect extraordinaire


Picture above by Gus Leonisky: nighttime view of the Burj Khalifa, inaugurated in 2010, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Total height: 829.8 m (2,722 ft).

the natural history museum...


This large mural in Newtown, Sydney, Australia, of the The Natural History Museum in London, has since disappeared, replaced by a building of offices, shops and apartments. This mural, painted with spray cans, was a massive undertaking for an artist, knowing that the work would eventually be destroyed...

In front of it was a realistic concrete sculpture of a 1980/90s computer and full cathode-ray tube. Amazing obsolescence.


Below, Gus called this: "Staircase to Nowhere" in a new building in New York... introduced here as a counterpoint to the utilitarian staircase of the museum above...


modern staircase...


restoration gone wrong...?

A massive fire has engulfed the roof of Notre Dame cathedral in the heart of the French capital, toppling its spire and sending thick plumes of smoke high into the blue sky as tourists and Parisians watched in horror from the streets below.

Flames that began in the early evening burst through the roof of the centuries-old cathedral and engulfed the spire, which collapsed, quickly followed by the entire roof.

It was not immediately clear what caused the fire, which drew crowds of people to gather in nearby squares as a huge plume of smoke wafted across the city and ash fell over a large area.



Notre Dame of Paris in "better times"... (Picture by Gus). By the look of it (scaffolding), some restoration was going on. One must say that although no cause of the fire has been determined, "old" roofs are dusty. The accumulation of this dust is a MAJOR fire hasard. The dust can act like a bomb... Any grinding, sawing cutting and dust making activities by restoration — even dust from stone — would add to the old dust and become powerful explosive like thermite... Remember:

1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure.

Her Majesty The Queen


This was the year Winsor Castle got destroyed by a major fire. The major loss was to the fabric of the castle. The false ceiling in St George's Hall and the void for coal trucks beneath the floor had allowed the fire to spread. It burned as far as the Chester Tower. Several ceilings collapsed. Apartments burnt included the Crimson Drawing Room (completely gutted), the Green Drawing Room (badly damaged, though only partially destroyed by smoke and water) and the Queen's Private Chapel (including the double-sided 19th century Henry Willis organ in the gallery between St George's Hall and Private Chapel, oak panelling, glass and the altar).

St George's Hall survived with the walls largely intact, but the ceiling had collapsed. The State Dining Room in the Prince of Wales Tower and the Grand Reception Room were also devastated. In total, 100 rooms were affected by the fire. Smaller apartments damaged or destroyed included the Star Chamber, Octagon Room, Brunswick Tower (covered in 12 feet (3.5 m) of debris), Cornwall Tower, Prince of Wales Tower, Chester Tower, Holbein Room and the Great Kitchen, which lost its plaster coving and most of the medieval timber. The external wall above the bay window of the Crimson Drawing Room (between the Prince of Wales and Chester Towers) was seriously calcified.




dust explosion is the rapid combustion of fine particles suspended in the air within an enclosed location. Dust explosions can occur where any dispersed powdered combustible material is present in high-enough concentrations in the atmosphere or other oxidizing gaseous medium, such as pure oxygen. In cases when fuel plays the role of a combustible material, the explosion is known as a fuel-air explosion.

Dust explosions are a frequent hazard in underground coal minesgrain elevators, and other industrial environments. They are also commonly used by special effects artists, filmmakers, and pyrotechnicians, given their spectacular appearance and ability to be safely contained under certain carefully controlled conditions.

Thermobaric weapons utilize this principle by rapidly saturating area with an easily combustible material and then igniting it to produce explosive force. These weapons are the most powerful non-nuclear weapons in the world.




And talking of explosion, this one was about one hundred metres from the floating restaurant, famous for its beer and sausages, that I have visited many times: 


Frankfurt: WWII bomb detonated in river

Specialists detonated a World War II bomb in Frankfurt's Main River, causing a spectacular water fountain. Hundreds of residents living nearby were evacuated ahead of the explosion.



Gus' picture of the bridge from the floating restaurant... 



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