Monday 18th of January 2021

of science and pornography...


Asking questions is fraught with getting answers.

Most answers are wrong, slanted, ignorant and not answering the question. And while not asking real questions, some people push a fake rhetoric that eventually asks a silly question — the silly answer of which is already contained in the irrelevant question/premise and is an answer that has no bearing on reality nor on the sunshine of tomorrow… 

Take this one for example:

And while the typical Evangelical Protestant church (in my experience) is still fueled by the rewards of the Protestant Work Ethic and (increasingly) non-controversial, uplifting, therapeutic messages, the Catholic Church has always been more focused on guilt, sin and blood in its day-to-day language. I recently listened to a Catholic sermon and blood (of Christ) was mentioned so many times and so graphically that I found myself thinking, “This would be very off-putting to someone not accustomed to the language of Catholics.” Uplifting, positive messages around self-help tools for day-to-day living…or constant reminding of the debased creature you once were pre-salvation, salvaged only by the bloody, violent, brutal execution of a blameless victim. Which group do you think will have an easier time swallowing the idea that the world can turn really evil, really fast?

Do I fall off my chair now or wait for a couple of hours when I fully grasp the painful bloody nailing-to-the-cross event compared to the counting of happily hard-earned cash, in a dichotomy?

So Rod Dreher is in raptures :

What a letter! Thank you, reader. I really look forward to the comments from other readers.

The questioning letter, here mentioned, is a long-winded dissertation on why the Evangelicals are "Middle-Class Optimists” with no negative thoughts, while working the till-drawer ethics harder… Yet despite supporting the Protestant Work-Ethic, mostly enamoured with Trump, there is a certain unease, as one faces a capitalism that can "go over the top" — as some evangelical churches leaders want to run their operations like businesses. 

This has been at the crux of what we do. Do we run our countries and our societies like non-profit clubs, like socialist meetings on uncomfortable cane-bottomed chairs, like some charitable orgs and such — or do we run our societies like profitable businesses (ahahahah), like trying to have a government budget “in the black” (ahahahah) in which we make sure everyone (except politicians of course) pull their maximum weight with the minimum of “entitlements”?

This was the famous trick of Joe Hockey who, to say the least, was (still is, I suppose) a "bon vivant" (we liked the laughing blubber), a convivial happy-fatty telling us to tighten our belt, to grind our nose on the hard stone, while he was rightfully enjoying the double dipping of political gravy.

So is religious optimism shifting from hope of paradise from the suffering on earth as told by the Catholics, to earn a living on this planet by working harder and make a successful comfortable buck for an optimistically earned place in heaven, with holidays in Florida at regular intervals?  

Which group do you think will have an easier time swallowing the idea that the world can turn really evil, really fast?

Catholics? Evangelicals? Do we have to swallow? What is evil? Donald? Joe? Scientists? You? Me? God? 

Hell is paradise-seeking folks.

Presently, under the Covid-19 infected social panic, the reactions have been nothing short of fascist. Is gassy fascism the only way towards the future? But are our reactions fully due to scientific reality? Or due to a pseudo version of politico-scientifico-profito-gunshot wedding?

Australian CONservative politicians have different style to sell us the same reheated shit over and over again. Timing is part of the con-trick. ScoMo is like a decisive dictatorial godly gasworks who has barely escaped from a coal PR brochure, while Turnbull was a useless vacillator in a vat of weak blancmange and Tony Abbott was (now... gloriously gone to assist the UK sales department) religiously convinced that reality was a lie, unless it was his own defining lie. 

We are poorly served. Do we deserve the tonnes of dumb brickbats we get? 

We need to gaze in our crystal ball of the past to guess the future of our undemocratic bunions...

There is so much history holes — possibly more hole in our official historical sieve than metal. Modern-learnt remembrance of the past is like a frayed patchwork where the colours have faded and the stitching has been eaten away by silverfish.

As an aside, the databases of fellow artists in this country stink… This is mainly due I guess that “artists” have to write their own praise and blow their own trumpets, otherwise they don’t exist. Art curators do not really fossick for information, nor do they pay attention to what is outstanding out-there, unless one knocks on their exclusive gilded door, and sometimes sleep in the same bed. I suppose there are far too many great “artists” lost in the unknown woods, but, really, for art organisations not to have a record of say Gus Leonisky is pissy. Not even in the fake cartoonists section… Sorry, I am bitching in jest. Though one should not despair… Bill Leak is still a feeble series of non-glorious entries, that is to say he is only remembered with an impersonal record of life and death with the college name he went to learn “art” and a few of his employments — and could be confused with someone else of the 1930s… Colleges like to be mentioned in artists biographies. Cathy Wilcox's entry is even more succinct than Bill's… Hers, created in 1995, was last updated in 2012 and says nothing of her brilliance… I suppose databases are not full-blown wikipedia entries and are not there to sing the mayonnaise of individual crayoners. 

Some of the people who have invented these artist registries are particularly impressed with this year’s choice of the finalists for the Archibald Prize. It’s highly likely that many of their short-listed protégés are in the final cut… For Gus, the selection looks slightly worse than last year… Leonardo Da Vinci can rest, fully asleep in his tomb… No-one is going to overtake his legendary Mona Lisa away. Australia is going backwater more and more as the artistic years move on, as if fiddle-dust was a major part of the working dead brain… May be I should try harder to look like an important doyen of the brush, like having painted 2,759 landscapes of North Head, Sydney…

So to me, what is lacking in arts EVERYWHERE today is ideas beyond the torus cube made of welded steel sheets. And I know why. Say, for the last seven years, the Australian government has been CONservatively retrograde and political correctness has taken over the landscape. One stand-up comic cannot say “boo" without being placed in irons, but the word F&*K is allowed. So "modern" art becomes the domain of brush-skills and personal navels rather than that of unsolved controversies, religious and scientific… or at least of the powerful expression of ideas. Ideas?

Take the controversy that is “shaking” London:

… The classics professor Mary Beard asked a similar question in her TV series Shock of the Nude, which aired earlier this year in the UK. The programme explored the many ways male artists have tried to justify the existence of naked women in their paintings: reclining nudes are depicted as innocently ‘caught’, half-bathing or somehow sleepily compromised in a state of undress.

So is what we are looking at art or pornography?

“That is a complicated question and anyone who thinks they know the answer should reflect a bit harder!” Professor Beard tells BBC Culture. “My line is that the boundary between art and pornography is always a treacherous one and the point about the past is that we have to see it both in its own terms and ours. We have to learn to look the past and its faults in the eye.”

A contentious issue

For more than 100 years, feminists have drawn attention to sexist attitudes that exist within the art world. In 1914, the suffragist Mary Richardson attacked Velázquez’s Rokeby Venus with an axe. The painting portrays Venus looking in the mirror, turned away from the viewer with her bottom at the centre of the canvas. Richardson claimed her protest was partly at the way men gaped at the painting, which hangs in London’s National Gallery.

Hello? It is not a contentious issue and there is no “complicated" question: YOU ARE LOOKING AT ART THAT IS ALSO PORNOGRAPHY. It was mostly created as such in the first place by artists commissioned by their patrons. Pornography (tasteful) was the (major) intent and this has been going on since the Greeks in antiquity and possibly since the Sumerians.
The images were not for public consumption but for privileged dudes who may not have been able to get it up — or simply enjoyed the lovely sight for pleasure to share with noble mates. Simple? Next question.

Ah yes… Are sciences the full quid?

One would be hard-pressed to find a scientist who has shed more light on the limitations of scientific and medical research than Dr. John Ioannidis, C.F. Rehnborg Chair in Disease Prevention and Professor of Medicine, of Epidemiology and Population Health at Stanford University.

While Ioannidis’ work has acutely demonstrated the increasing unreliability of large swaths of peer-reviewed scientific research, the SARS-COV2 pandemic has helped to manifest an even darker framework surrounding the present conditions of contemporary scientific inquiry. Dr. Andrea Saltelli speaks precisely to this problem, which is the conflation of scientific knowledge with political power, observing that:

"The modern model of influence of science and technology on public policies has resulted in a situation where the crisis of the political system and that of science conflate one another–as witnessed by the post-truth, post-facts debates, challenging the arrangements whereby knowledge–in the form of science–and power legitimize one another."
The editorial published in the well-known journal Scientific American is perhaps the most recent incarnation of the admixture of science and politics. The editors begin the essay by offering a rather ground-breaking announcement: “Scientific American has never endorsed a presidential candidate in its 175-year history. This year we are compelled to do so. We do not do this lightly.” The political support of a Joe Biden presidency is equated with “good science” and “following the data.”

Politics and sciences can make husband and wife with the usual barneys — or can be like a righteous brilliant professor visiting a whore who is in it for the cash transaction. Or these two can also be like a relationship between an artist getting paid to paint fantastic pornographic pictures and his masters. We have already mentioned how Manet who had painted the Déjeuner sur l’Herbe was chastised for placing a nude on the grass who was not a goddess nor a heroine of Antiquity... Horror! A whore! Back to some of the science magazines making a choice of presidential candidate:

Speaking precisely to this ceremony of political correctness, the philosopher and motorcycle mechanic Matthew Crawford wonders, “At what point do the ceremonies of political correctness become a mere façade, a set of dogmas that nobody actually believes, but which make a useful instrument of social control?”

Good question...
But the answer is weak:
"We need to push back against the prevailing narrative surrounding science, which has too readily become a “useful instrument of social control.” What is ultimately needed is the recovery of a practice of scientific inquiry grounded in humility and the affirmation that truth is something we come to discover. Science is not merely a tool for foisting our own will upon reality. To echo Ioannidis and Saltelli, science will recover its true aim if, and only if, it becomes capable of transcending politics."

For sciences to choose a presidential candidate in this turdy climate could be folly, especially for the semi-Christian press like the American Conservative. Yes I know, Trump-the-Idiot has deliberately limited his number of neurones for scientific questions and he is not the brightest star for the future of humanity. Meanwhile Joe and his troops have promised to invest time and resources into solving global warming, reducing our reliance on fossil fuel, baby, as well as moving towards socialism of health care and such — while getting the support of the nasty warmongers that Trump did not want to have anything to do with. Confused? Worried? Anything but Trump? Anyone naked in the streets?

I admire your courage. 


sciences and politics in australia...

Picture at top Ватерлоо by Густафиан Леонийский (2020)


By Dennis Atkins


As with almost everything Tony Abbott did, his manner of resigning as Australia’s 28th prime minister was unusual and without precedent.

He did it by facsimile, using the now antique communication tool to send his farewell letter from the Prime Minister’s Office in Parliament House to the Governor-General’s residence in Yarralumla.

It was five years ago this week, with Tuesday marking the beginning of the brief and tumultuous Malcolm Turnbull’s time at the top.

Abbott was the Australian public figure who, more than anyone else, broke our politics.

From his dramatic, down the middle grab at the Liberal leadership in 2009, Abbott operated using a model imported from the United States.

Former Republican Speaker Newt Gingrich devised and perfected it when he was up against Bill Clinton. Labelled the “51 per cent strategy” by commentator Ron Brownstein, the former Democratic president described it like this: “Stop it, slow it, kill it, or just talk it to death.”

This was Abbott’s most effective piece of political weaponry.

He used it primarily against Labor’s carbon and climate policies but also deployed it across the board.

While the Liberals have put Abbott behind them, they have not let go of this one magic trick.

It was apparent this week with the latest set of announcements from Scott Morrison’s government covering energy and emissions.

Using one of Morrison’s favourite techniques, the government carpet-bombed the public conversation with a set of plans, proposals and ideas about energy and emissions.

Whether it was opening up the market for “reliable and dispatchable” power (code for gas, the energy of choice in Morrison’s world) or using existing mechanisms to expand carbon capture and storage.

There were no actual solid plans – just proposals to do something in the medium or long term, either in cooperation with the private sector or using direct public investment.

These ideas are only slightly more than thought bubbles. As with so much Morrison talks about and purposes, we might even get to know whether it amounts to anything before the next election.

Then again, we may wait until after a poll to see what emerges.

One immediate consequence of these announcements is that it has put pressure back on Labor.

There is division within Labor ranks about gas and what role it might play in the transition from the current-generation scene dominated by coal-fired power to net-zero emissions – a mid-century target endorsed by the federal Opposition, most states and businesses.

The Left doesn’t want it, seeing gas as the poor relation to coal. But the response, which involves a complex mix of renewables, batteries and various demand strategies, is a lot harder to sell than Morrison’s marketing slogans about jobs and economic growth.

There is already a surging demand from the broad left – inside and outside the ALP – for a clear, unambiguous stand on emissions with a medium-term target that cannot get over the “what will it costs in dollars and jobs” hurdle without watching most voters tune out.

Morrison played these divisions to cement his “miracle” victory last year, highlighting Labor’s split stand on coal mega mines epitomised by the Adani coal deposit in North Queensland.

The Coalition swept the board in regional Queensland and Western Australia, making up for the closer contest in metropolitan Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia and Tasmania.

When he visited Port Kembla’s Bluescope site this week, Morrison couldn’t hold back his enthusiasm to go after Labor.

Saying the Coalition would meet its 2030 emissions target in “a canter”, Morrison reached for his “what will Labor do” baseball bat.

Labor needed to “say what (its target) is … and how much they’re going to cost people on their jobs and incomes”, he said.

Labor is trying to mask its divisions but they are going to become more apparent as the Left push for a more ambitious emissions target.

As one senior Labor figure remarked after the government’s series of announcements, “the wedge has been planted and we’re going to find it sharp and uncomfortable”.

When John Howard was at the height of his political powers – especially in winning the 2001 and 2004 polls – he was dubbed an “evil genius”. Morrison learnt those lessons and adapted them to the hyper-partisan strategy perfected by Abbott.

Everything the government does has one consistent element. There is always a “how will this damage Labor” box that must be ticked.

Such a divide-and-rule approach drags politics and public policy down to the lowest common denominator and gives the spoils to the victor who gets to 51 per cent.

It’s a brutally simple strategy to which Labor has been unable to find a saleable response: to be a winner, first you have to make sure your opponent is a loser.

After that, it’s winner takes all.



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Abbott was (is) a scientific ignoramus who came from a Santamaria Catholic branch. He has been replaced by a worse scientific ignoramus that fell from a PR-event for happy-sloppy evangelicals. Are we in trouble? Yes....