Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Tube strike and Money at 'River House' Hammersmith near a blue Plaque

Yesterday I had an appointment to present on Money matters in Hammersmith and feared that as a result of the London Underground strike my commute would not be a good one.
It seems that the latest London transport strike is a result (to an extent ) of the jockeying around succession to Bob Crow to head up the NUR as well as cuts to Booking Halls on the LT network.

Somewhat surprisingly the journey I took was a good one, the District Line was running a shuttle to West Kensington and although by the timer of my return around 4:00 pm the trains were getting crowded it was very manageable.

The main area of presenting on money for me so far has been Energy Best Deals as we move into Spring/Summer this particular area is removed from the schedule and today I had the chance to lead a discussion on the more general area of Managing Money.

The numbers who attend the Hammersmith and Fulham
River House
CAB presentations are often only in the single figures and yesterday was of this order too but the good thing was that those who did attend were engaged and brought something to the group.
River House is a really pleasant place with a good attitude from those there, it is interesting how venues and organisations vary - this I found had a welcoming and outgoing tone - you can find out more about it here.

Thomas James Cobden-Sanderson Plaque

The Plaque at The Dove
If you are in Hammersmith, just down the river from River House  (in the Chiswick direction) there's a fine old Fullers pub called The Dove, I noticed a blue plaque to Thomas James Cobden-Sanderson, who was a mover in the Arts and Crafts Movement of the 19th Century, despite being a barrister for some time he found  more agreeable work in Bookbinding and the influence of his type (as in printing not personality) lives on.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Zeebox becomes Beamly

It's nearly 2 years since I saw Anthony Rose explain Zeebox and I was quite impressed at this time, fast
 forward to November 2012 and I went along to Zeebox Towers in Soho  to be part of the  user interface studies they were carrying out there.

Well for me it went a bit quiet after this partly because the 'App' they had was not designed for Blackberry Playbook and partly because I wasn't sure it was something I needed/enjoyed.

Well the news now is that Zeebox is Beamly - as they say

'zeebox is reborn as Beamly. We've changed - but we still love TV! We've added a fresh new look, plus great new features for you to play with.

There's a nice interview with the Beamly Boss here - time will tell if this can be the goto place for social TV interactions or if it goes instead to Facebook..

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Ordinary World...

Ordinary World is a great song by Duran Duran (and a favourite of Mr Shaun Sullivan) but as a term it is to me so much more...
Having recently read Alain de Botton's book on Proust ( How Proust Can Change Your Life ) and started on the In search of Lost time that it describes  I'm beginning to see something of the message that (I think) Alain is seeing in his interpretation of  Marcel's work and life.

But is there something of a movement around ordinariness?

Or perhaps this should be something about living life - the 'be here now' that some thinkers  say is the way we should live.

As well as Michael Foley it seems that the artist Liam O'Farrell wants to examine, celebrate and see life as it is - he talks about everyday of the Beatles The Penny Lane and tries to capture it.

Who are the great Ordinary celebrators for you?

I would add Ray Davies (of the Kinks) and the US artist Edward Hopper in my personal list but there are so many ordinary things we should and could celebrate.

And here's the boys...

Friday, April 25, 2014

Another Ealing Gazette 'Picture of the Week' - Changing Ealing

Not on the staff.
I can't deny that  it gave me a bit of a buzz as I had my breakfast this morning but unlike before it was not unexpected as I had been informed by Michael Russell News Editor of the Gazette that the picture had been submitted for publication.

What I'm seeing in the West London area where I live is more change in the borough in a relatively short time than I've seen in the past 30 or so years, so many new buildings commercial and residential.
I don't know how far the council and Government have considered the changes as a whole - Hospitals, Schools, Tube and roads are all going to get busier and more people are going to be stressed and challenged.

It will be interesting to see how these changes and Crossrail impact Ealing and the people who live here, I expect other parts of suburban London are also undergoing these changes - I'll be continuing to photograph and blog on this topic.
The Picture as submitted.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Saatchi Gallery (again) -Pangaea : New art from Africa and Latin America..

A statue of Hans Sloane the
Charles Saachi of his day
One of the pleasures of visiting galleries in a group is the opportunity to hear other people's views on the works and thus learn about the works, the other people and (perhaps) yourself.
Yesterday I went again to the Saatchi in the posh King's Road part of London which has a new-ish show called Pangaea : New art from Africa and Latin America.

The Saatchi Gallery like the man it is named for (Charles Saatchi) is a one off and the exhibitions there are curated (I'm told) with him in mind, the space favours the large and dramatic and  unlike so many Galleries you are left free to get up close to the works.

Standout works included the Invasive Ants of Rafael Gómezbarros which have been displayed before externally but were used to good effect in the gallery here  also standing out were the brick globe of Fredy Alzate and the colourful works of  Boris Nzebo of Cameroonthe works by him reminded me of Patrick Caulfield in their use of Acrylic colour paints.

African art has been much in evidence ( I saw some at Tate Modern last summer)  and influence in Europe
Ants but not in pants
since the days of Picasso and this collection pays a nod to the fashion to look at the dark continent as a single entity (which of course it isn't) it further dilutes the message by including Latin America.
The common themes to much of the art coming out of Africa and other parts of the 'developing world'  if there are any that would fit  could be something about the tensions around both Colonialism and 
Sisyphus might push this
 Globalisation. Having said that there are some features of work that are pleasing to look at the vibrant use of colour and a somewhat naive exploration of expressionism is exciting to see.

The current exhibition is so eclectic that if you're an admirer of big in your face contemporary art I defy you to not enjoy at least one of the artists works.

It's always a pleasure to take some time to admire Richard Wilson's installation using the reflections around oil to trick the eye, he's in the news too with his Slipstream Sculpture at Heathrow.

The return to the Saatchi also gave me a change to see the Google collaboration (Motion Photography Prize) that I'd seen at the opening, with less people there I was really able to enjoy this.
The colour washes reminded me of Patrick Caufield

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Mini Greenhouse and Allotment Petition

Wilkinson Mini Greenhouse
After the external painting at home was completed I found that the Mini Greenhouse we had   was in a poor state and actually fell apart, it's now been replaced with a  Wilkinson Mini Greenhouse.

On the subject of growing stuff there's a petition you can sign regarding the sell off of allotments (against it) - if you feel that this the availability of allotments should be protected do sign it - here's the link and here's a link to the story behind it..

Come on Eric don't deprive people of allotments

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Aereo TV and House Painted

When  I was studying for my MA in Mass Communication it became clear to me how significant US
Not TV but attractive
Supreme court judgments are  in the commercial development of new technologies in the media space. At the time of my studies it was all about looking back at the decision around the use of recording/time-shift and Sony versus Universal.

Now we're in the age of Aereo and the current stand off is around the  technology  that further enhances and legitimises  the alternative methods of providing on-demand TV services to those who decide to cut the cord and remove a TV cash cow from the cable companies coffers.

Not just for snacking

The US court decision is due soon and it will have ramifications not just in the US as consumers (hopefully) are given the ability to pay for what they choose to watch rather than an unwieldy bouquet of premium sports and movies.The current model  that has preserved an unhealthy status quo for the TV broadcasters, distributors and producers looks set to be consigned to history.

A lick of paint

House painting.

We've had the house painted - it will hopefully hold together for another 5 years.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Proust changing life and being unwell, Moral Philosophy and Ethics

)I picked up one Alain De Botton's early publications at a secondhand bookshop recently and as I'm suffering from a bad back I am able to dedicate some time to reading it over the 'holiday' weekend.

An early de Botton
How Proust can change YOUR LIFE (for that is the name of book) could have been written specifically for such an occasion and although only about half way through I am able to appreciate some of the motivations behind both this book and In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust.

I suppose there is something of Schopenhauer in the essence of Proust's tragic-comedic life, although there is angst and pain, Proust uses it to learn and to inform his art.

Moral Philosophy and Ethics (5)

Moral philosophy or ethics is defined as the area of philosophy which concerns itself with theories of ethics, and how we ought to live our lives.This leads to a challenging questions which we can ask ourselves about life that can be paraphrased as What is the purpose of life or What is the good life (not the TV programme with Felicity Kendal )? 

The Ancient Greeks had different answers and were ascribed to different tribes to answer these  questions, they included:

Cynics - Cynicism originates in the philosophical schools of ancient Greece that has a Socratic link.

Epicureans -are thought of as hedonists but in truth the particular concept is more complex, it is a system of ethics embracing  life where the idea is that pleasure or happiness is the chief good.


Stoics - these are members of the ancient Greek school of philosophy that was  founded by Zeno of Citium, they believed  that virtue and happiness can be achieved only by giving in destiny and the 'natural law'

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Coursera and Logic (4)

Coursera came to my attention recently as I saw that someone on  Linkedin was taking a course about The Music of the Beatles the next time it runs is 6th June and I'm certainly thinking about taking it.  From what I see  Coursera  is  an  example of a MOOCs institution/collaboration  and is an initiative that that partners with top universities and organisations worldwide, to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free.

Am also looking to see what might be of interest around The Ancient Greek Philosophy niche too.

Logic (4)

Ok back to Philosophy in Minutes and we're looking at Logic.

What Marcus Weeks says about Logic in the book  is that it is used to check the validity (or not) of conclusions that are made.
This can be in the form of  inductive reasoning  that is  is reasoning in which the premises* seek to supply strong evidence for but not absolute proof of the truth of the conclusion.  The other typre is  deductive reasoning, this links 'premises' with 'conclusions'. If all premises are true along with the terms being clear, and the rules of deductive logic are used  then the conclusion reached is therefore necessarily true.

(*A Premise is a statement that an argument claims will induce or justify a conclusion.)

Saturday, April 19, 2014

More on Channel 5 sale - along with 'Are we the same person?'

I've mentioned it before but the sale of Richard Desmond's terrestrial channel 5  continues to intrigue, the latest story is that  Discovery has become frustrated with the negotiations and dropped out of the bidding.
Hardly a giveaway
 Apparently the Discovery/Sky bid has been un-tabled,  although  it seems that Sky might still be interested  in being involved in some part of a purchase.

The price for the sale was being put as high as £700m and there are some commentators who believe this was always unrealistic and others who are now saying that Desmond is more interested in raising further finance against that asset  than selling the channel.

In another twist is appears that BT the UK's largest  telco is not ruling itself out and Viacom is still thought to be a possible purchaser as is Sweden's MTG.

Thinking back

Despite the dominance of TV as the vehicle for 'working class' entertainment when I was a child the Cinema retained a certain allure, growing up in the Essex town of Chelmsford (now a City) we had 3 cinemas, The Odeon, The Regent and the single level Pavilion which used to show older films - I recall regularly seeing (and being part) of queues -big films for me where the Dr Who films as well as the Beatles  Help and Hard Days' Night .  I also recall seeing GiGi and high Society at the Pavillion.
the Ant and Dec of their day
Other highlights as a child were seeing Sooty and Sweep and vising the Circus (sponsored by PG Tips I think) .

Now you might think where am I going with this? Well I sometimes feel that the grown up me has little connection with the experiences I had many years ago but I recently received from my Solicitor a note asking me if I wanted to update my will (made over 20 years ago)- I then got a chance to look as the Will I had made and was surprised to see a bequest to The Samaritans who I now volunteer with.
I have thought on more than one occasion recently what is it that triggered my desire to become involved  and I sak myself again why did I choose to select this charity?

The idea of picturing the brain as functioning on two levels, one 'chain' almost instinctive the other more considered is now a method used in explaining human behaviour and this may play a part here. See Kahneman who won the Nobel Prize for his work)

Alain and Russell

Alain de Botton's Philosophers Mail is a brave experiment that uses (somewhat) the strategy of The Mail Online to engage an audience - I quite like the Edward Hopper reference here but feel that Hopper is being used a little, he (and his work) are so much more complex than this - de Botton fails to mention the fact that nearly always the woman depicted/the model is his wife and that he worked for a while at an advertising agency.

Here's a quite good video of Russell and Alain..

Friday, April 18, 2014

ICA visit this week

The Mall in London
On Wednesday as part of the Contemporary Art gallery visits we went to the ICA in the Mall. Some years ago I was an ICA member an I still sometimes visit, often for their somewhat non-conventional Christmas cards.
The artists work that we were looking at were a diverse bunch Tauba Auerbach, David Robilliard and video works by Hito Steyerl. We also visited the Fox reading room to look at the Scrapbook exhibition there.

There was a piece on Tauba Auerbach in The London Standard this week that gave a brief glimpse into what a bright cookie Tauba is, that said the works on show here are engaging and pleasant, unusually they are not overly derivative but I found them calm and somewhat minimalist, one of our group likened the 3 dimensional pieces to the composer Philip Glass.

The work of David Robilliard who died in 1988 was a sharp contrast, to me at first sight it appeared faux naive, but direct on later seeing some of the artists poetry I saw that the style of painting was fitting for the words but to see the paintings by themselves revealed the somewhat limited landscape that he inhabited.

The videos of Hito were an altogether different style of work, complex and ironic they offered a strong critique of our times particularly with reference to the economic meltdown - the quality of picture and projection was good (not aloways the case in such work) but I find Gallery video installations frustrating in that there are no start or end times and people just drift in and out.

For me it was a good experience to revisit the ICA and the £1 day membership is very good value.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

I suppose they know what they're doing.. Motion show starts today at Saatchi..

Yesterday I went to the Saatchi gallery for the VIP launch of the Motion Photography Prize and it was for
Did someone say free drinks?
once actually useful to have a modern mobile phone with e-mails on so I could confirm my invitation.

Blimey! it was busy, so busy that it was difficult to really savour the works - which were as far as I could see exciting and on trend.

Get your head out the way

I've been to quite a few events at the Saatchi and the nibbles/drinks are quite variable but last night the spread was pretty good, if you wanted you could go back for more drink and there was cheese and cold meats with biscuits or bread- which is quite generous - this might be as a result of what Google (literally bring to the party) well perhaps it's from part of what they don't pay in UK tax.

If you get a chance do visit the exhibition which is now open to the public.

Thought this was quite amusing (in the area of Kings Road too) - I suppose it's a bit of school children's humour.

Grow up!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Fixings and London Live fails to make ripples

We're well into the growing season and as well as having (far too many) seedlings and germinating trays in the house I've starting the 'hardening' process - that is start getting plants used to the weather outside before the shock of planting them outside.

On the allotment yesterday I managed to drill the first greenhouse fixing, sadly such is the work that it takes to do this that one charge of my rechargeable drill only completes on hole so it is going to take a few further visits to finish off the fixings.
Once the Greenhouse is fixed I have shelves to put in place and I will then be able to relocate some of the trays and seedlings and get some space indoors back.

Hope it holds.

London Live on TV

It's now 3 weeks since the launch of London's own TV station and for me it's not changing my viewing habits, that's not to say it's a disaster but it is not creating enough of a buzz to get the requisite 'what am I missing' feel to make us seek it out (the lack of viewing on my part could be down to the fact that it is part of the Freeview channels rather than the Freesat which is our default) .
The Telegraph and the Guardian have both taken an interest and reviewed but this is not going to set the world on fire as well as the workmanlike reruns we need controversy for this channel to stand out (think Channel 4 and 5 in their early days) - I wish it well but it needs both more of the London more of the Live and more 'oh my god moments'.
More like this please...

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Greenhouse Nearly Complete and UK Channel 5 TV Sale

Now with door!

I was listening to Fern Britton on the radio this morning talking about the new BBC2 Allotment programme - the show starts next week and it's called The Big Allotment Challenge and Fern made the excellent point that when you start a job it is never finished (like a painting I think?) so we've not finished the Greenhouse it needs securing and shelves as a minimum but it does now have a door and most of the kit is used up.

Fern did seem genuinely interested in growing and it seems that her husband Chef Phil uses some of what she grows in his cooking and I'll certainly check out the Challenge when it starts this week.

I have also planted more seed potatoes this time Red Desiree main crop, more to follow (Maris Pipers).

Channel 5 Sale moves closer

Richard Desmond's Northern  and Shell looks set to make a tidy sum if the sale of the UK's Channel 5 TV completes in the manner Desmond has said that he expects £700m (Desmond paid about £103.5m for the station in 2010) but the figure is somewhat inflated and he may have to settle for considerably l;ess or keep the channel on his books.

Desmond has chosen a good time to sell the channel as the UK economy bounces back and the adverting rates paid by agencies rise.

Channel 5 is best known by UK viewers as home of popular imports like the CSI and NCIS crime series as well as Australian Soap Operas including Neighbours, Channel 5 makes few programmes of its own but does now deliver reality shows like Big Brother.

BT the large former state Telco who have become a player in the UK TV business have ruled themselves out of the bidding as has the quasi State broadcaster Channel 4 but there are plenty of other groups with deep pockets who are interested, the front runners in the race for the channel include:

ITV - ITV may fear another strong terrestrial broadcaster and wish to remove such a risk but with an already expanding portfolio of channels the benefit would appear limited but reports are that ITV has also rules itself out

Vodafone- this is a bit of a left field prospect but it Vodafone has shown the wherewithal  and inclination to pay £6bn for Ono which is Spain's largest cable operator.

Discovery/Sky- A combined bid from Discovery and Sky has been mentioned widely, Discovery has recently become acquisitive outside of it's home market where it is increasingly sidelined by mega mergers - it bought a 20%  interest in Eurosport recently, and now that founder  John Hendriks has stood down it is perhaps less inclined to stay within it original remit. Discovery's bid would certainly change the UK landscape. 
Viacom  -Viacom  has been mentioned as a bidder, Nickelodeon and MTV owner would be able to benefit from cross-promotional and content synergies

Scripps   the US company that owns 50% of UK TV which  is the  operator  of free-to-air channels in the UK

Saban Capital which owns brands like Power Rangers-  it seems remains an outside possibility in the 'race' for the purchase.

To me the price is ridiculously inflated, Channel 5 is actually very limited as an asset base and competitors in the free to air TV broadcast business face far lower entry costs than they have in years gone by as result of the rise of IPTV, Freesat and Freeview.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Pea planting and new boy at the DCMS

A lovely spring day in West London meant that I was able to do some digging and planting, peas now in position and more weeds composting.

Many people were out on the site enjoying the weather which made for a nice friendly atmosphere.

Changes at the DCMS

A good article in the Times (10th April) reflecting on the performance of Maria Miller at the DCMS makes one reflect on the method of appointing ministers which tends to consider the 'importance' of the minister with a careerist profile, this tends to mean that ministers are at the DCMS as the nursery slopes of Cabinet government rather than a belief in the importance of Media Culture and Sport.

Let's hope that Sajid Javid who will most likely only be in the post for 12 months or so does not do any damage and perhaps even champions the Arts.
Sajid  has done well to reach Government office and is seen as an Osborne supporter.

Also  good point made in the article on what a fine job Peter Bazalgette is doing at the Arts Council, I've seen him speak a number of times and although he is  sometimes flippant the throwaway one-liners  can be deceptive -he's an intelligent man with wide ranging interests who does care about Culture both High and low(er) if the se categories still exist

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Plus One gallery & Paul Day

Yesterday it had been the intention for us (The group of CityLit gallery visitors) to look at the latest Saatchi exhibition, but the gallery was closed for a private function so we had to think again.

Lovely in the sun
The Saatchi gallery is  housed in the Duke of York's HQ and as well as a lovely building it's a great home for Art, at the gallery you can get up close to the work and the staff there are unobtrusive.

(You can see how beautiful  the gallery was looking from the accompanying  photo's).
London's Spring Sunshine

We met outside the Saatchi and the leader of the group decided that we could visit the nearby Plus One Gallery, she was though less than enthusiastic about the reception we were likely to receive at the gallery - they had been  fairly clear with her that they would not be welcoming of a 'student' group (I would say that the average age of the group is probably north of 50).

We were told that the The Plus one Gallery is aimed at a section of the art world which is interested in the figurative over the abstract and has something of an irony aversion.
Anyway when we were finished talking about how horrible some people were we ambled down to see what was mainly a Paul Day exhibition (Paul Day is responsible for public art that includes The Meeting Place Statue at St Pancras).
Paul day was born in 1967 and now splits his life between France and the UK - meaning that his work at St Pancras the London  terminus of Eurostar is particular appropriate.
Only two school children at a time please.
Now I too thought that the work in St Pancras was perhaps a little lightweight (although created in bronze) but if you look at the base there is quite a bit going on and so it was with the Day work at the Plus One Gallery -the technical side seemed accomplished to me and there was something of a critique of modern city life too.
What was apparent to me is that the line between popular and critically popular is a harsh one that rules success out for some work on each sider of the line.
On the subject of public statues there's a nice one of Mozart near the Plus One Gallery.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

West London and no Blondie

Yesterday I took a few pictures in Sheperd's Bush, I really enjoy taking snaps that have colour and capture something of London.
Does it look like London?
While I don't know the congregation of the The Miracle of Praise Church in Loftus Road West London it has for me a Caribbean feel, this feeling was probably cemented by a nearby funeral in Uxbridge road which included (outside
the church) solemn mourners accompanied by African drumming.

The church is not too far from the revitalised Market and the Westfield shopping complex. I like the strong brash colours of the sign above the market and the way that it plays with our expectations and perceptions of a strongly 'branded' market.
 The shopping centre at Wesdtfield is a contrast (to put it mildly) and the Foyles that I went into on Tuesday was quiet (I expect book purchasers where busy in their offices visiting - what strruck me was a display of 'The School of Life' - I really rate de Botton but fear that he is (maybe deliberately) creating a consumer brand of Philosophy which although trying to fill a real desire and need is perhaps a bit  too much like an  'Ikea lite' for those seeking a craftsman made product in Philosophy  - it reminds me more than a touch of Grot as featured in the David Nobbs The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin 
Is it what Socrates would have wanted?

Come on in

Maria (you've got to see her)

So now that Maria Miller has been 'forced' from the cabinet  I can not pretend that I have no sympathy for her but I do feel that she has not handled the situation she found herself in well.

How much better it would have been if when the issue first arose she had reflected on the claims and her attitude, the result of her inability to sense the publics mood of outrage has meant that those who feel that indignation and disagreement is enough to see a minister from office.

For Ed Milliband there will be quite some pleasure I am sure in seeing the discomfort of David Cameron at the dispatch box but I fear that there are many Labour MPs who have expenses issues lurking in the recesses of time and I hope that he holds back on too much triumphalism  and an understandable  tendency to over play his hand.

And Maria this is an example of a great comeback..

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Crime & nuisance on the plot

Early potatoes sown

Mulching around new fruit bushes

It is sad but seemingly inevitable that from time to time City allotment sites suffer uninvited guests  and again sheds are being broken into on our site.

There are a number of issues with people breaking into the site:-

1) It makes people feel unsafe, and causes less people to be on the premises which makes such occurrences more likely.

2) It means extra work in securing the sheds and expense - the idea that a secure shed will not be broken into is naive, it tends to make the people who break in think there's something worth taking.

3) There is an idea that it's better to leave the shed open and let people take what they want, this means though you need to either carry your tools with you or accept that you'll need to keep replacing them.

The frustrating thing is that tools taken are not going to fetch much money, they'll probably just be abandoned or used for other break-ins.

Personally I don't think it's getting any worse where I live and crime is not as bad as it was 20 or so years ago but it is irritating.

Having said that I have recently added some mulch to new fruit bushes, the mulch was provided by an arborist  and the bushes kindly given by another plot holder - it's not all bad news.

I have also sown (5) early potatoes hopeful;ly noi frosts to surprise me.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Not such a 'Hungry One' now and Ontology (3)

On Friday when we were Ealing a woman stopped us asking where McDonalds was she didn't live in Ealing but remembered it from when she was visiting before - we explained it was closed for a few more days but would re-open soon (I think it's back now) . Seemed that only McDonald's would do, she didn't want KFC and Subway wasn't in the running - the myriad coffee houses were not going to sate her current desire either - I had some sympathy - sometimes (for me) only a burger will do.
It's back now

It used to be the Hungry One
There aren't that many non-chain take-aways that I know that last 25 years (save for the traditional Fish and Chip places)  and I think West Ealing's 'Hungry One' has actually managed something around 30 - we until pretty recently  used to still make an occasional visit there and find it now sad that it's becoming another Pizza based place.
The burgers weren't the greatest but the combination of bun sauce and chips usually managed to hit the spot when required - so farewell Hungry One and we're on the hunt for a replacement.

 Ontology (3)

Now Ontology is something I've mused about before it's about existence and being - does something exist is the question it seeks to answer.
Parmenides is one of the early figures associated with Ontology Heidegger (Being and Time) is the man who put it back onto the philosophical table.
Here's an explanation..

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Nature in the raw, How to solve a problem like Maria and More Philosophy (Epistemology 2)

Bye-bye birdie
There's a line - Red in tooth and claw which is from Alfred Lord Tennyson's In Memoriam A. H. H., 1850. The line  comes (apparently) at   Canto 56 (it is a very long poem) and refers to man but it's been brought to mind by my vegetable plot..

The last few visits to the allotment have meant some sort of clearance of debris - day one there were feathers from what looked like a struggle around a bird and a strange smell coming from the water butt.
On inspection of the butt i discovered a small dead mouse floating on it's back - I removed this and disposed of it.

The next day it was another bird that had been struck down no feathers this time but one dead bird, again disposed of - hopefully this is the three that such things come in.

Maria, Maria Maria 

P J Proby summed it up so well and David's behind her.

PJ -probably another Maria in mind
Well thanks Maria-  as we're again we're reminded how disconnected politicians lives are from those who they say they represent.

A government that came to power saying things like 'we're all in this together' and tightening of belts overlooks the unforgivable greed and unfathomable arrogance with all the PR skills of Marie Antoinette.

When those living at the bottom of the heap in the UK are seeing their benefits being cut and being labelled cheats (and facing criminalisation for quite minor infringements)  the culture secretary pockets public money and pays back around £6,000 as opposed to the £90,000 she received and offers a 32 second apology.
It has also emerged that intimidation was used against the press and their reporting of the matter.

Be interesting to see what happens next..

Epistemology (2)

Now that the first part of my formal (ish) introduction to Philosophy has finished I'm returning to Marcus Weeks's Philosophy in Minutes and the next heading is  Epistemology.
Epistemology  is about knowledge and how we can get it, it   focuses on the means for acquiring knowledge and how it is possible to tell the difference between truth and falsity.

In fact one of the areas we probed on the introduction via great thinkers was how modern epistemology focuses on  a debate between rationalism and empiricism, or the question of whether knowledge can be acquired a priori  (knowledge that is independent of all particular experiences based on 'reason') or a posteriori, used in philosophy to indicate inductive reasoning. The term is Latin, meaning “from what comes after”and refers to that which comes after experience.

So terms that are important here are:

Empiricism: knowledge is obtained through experience.

Rationalism: knowledge can be acquired through the use of reason.
Here's a youtube..

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Contemporary Art in London

The London Art scene is exciting and is not just about the big galleries and exhibitions, I enrolled in a Citylit  'tour' of some of the current hotspots.

Several things I noted from the first day which included not just the works but also about curation, how we talk about the works and something of the business that supports the 'Art'
Yesterday I was introduced to Tal R and the Walk towards Hare Hill at the Victoria Miro Gallery in Mayfair and a show of recent work by the Romanian painter Marius Bercea at Hypernova in Hanover Square just a stone's throw from the Tal R.

Tal R

Tal R was born in Israel in 1967 but now works in Copenhagen where his mother is from.
The series of 'painterly' works that Tal created last year were painted in the open air (en plein air in artspeak), they were mainly oils on cardboard, board and other media that were grabbed from the shed before he set out on foot or bicycle to nearby woods.
The fact that he was on his way towards Hare Hill was not realised by the artist at the time but this is known for being a picturesque spot.
As well as oils Tal used ink for a couple of the works (these were the more appealing works for me). Generally there was a spirit of the Fauve's about the work they were impressionistic generally featuring trees and showed a bold use of colour. For me the lack of figures and perspective moved the works towards abstraction and although the complementary palette was vibrant it did not show the artist's full talents (you can see more about him and his works  here) . As an exercise for the artist in creating works to a set of self imposed rules it was intriguing but perhaps for the what the viewer could take from the work it was limited.

The Victoria Miro gallery in 14 George Street is a nice space for what are works on a very human scale - be careful with the sliding door if you visit.

Marius Bercea  at Hypernova

The contrast experienced by the group  in our second visit was quite powerful, we were introduced to works from 2013  by the Romanian born artist   Marius Bercea (born in 1979 during the communist rule) , the works here were evocative and generally on a far bigger scale, some featured figures and they were (unlike Tal R's works)  individually titled.
The Hypernova is a more open (to light an people) and an exciting place to see paintings, it has light coming in from the street and the works were curated sympathetically across two rooms.
Bercea is an artist who is a rising star and his work we were told  is only sold/released to suitable purchasers (seems a little egotistical perhaps?)

The most striking of his works was Seasonal Capital of Itinerant Crowds (2013), there is irony and humour in the works here as well as technique and emotion.

There were clear cinematic references within the show with Toyon and The Flame of the Match Girl being prime examples.

Having seen the works by Bercea after those of Tal R I perhaps over enthused on the work of the Romanian some of the painting were a little flat and although there was detail the works may have benefited from more time and care.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Gertting there with the Greenhouse & Britsh Gas follow up

Aligning and holding the slabs

It really helps to have two people when constructing.

Well it's not finished yet but you can see that the Greenhouse (Harmony 6 x4)  is coming along well.

I would say that the kit is quite intimidating with hundreds of parts including nuts bolts and panels.

The instructions that come with the Greenhouse are fairly helpful but not absolutely foolproof and I would certainly recommend undertaking the project with help, it may not be absolutely necessary but as they say two heads are better than one and this has been the case where there has been some doubt about which way things go.
 Lots of parts to check off 
I have (as I did with the shed) underestimated the size of base required and have bought more slabs which will me  an a bit of extra excavation.
As I would imagine with most allotment sites fixing is a challenge because permanent concrete/cement work is not permitted - I plan to secure the base to the slabs by drilling and bolting but am worrying about the slabs cracking.

The remaining work is the door, various fixings and finishing touches and more sand to add between the slabs of the base.

British Gas follow up

Yesterday British Gas called to discuss further my change of energy provider (from them to Ovo), no problem with the call they did confirm if my consumption was the same as last year Ovo would save me £80 as compared with the best deal they could do for me.
The lady on the phone was unable to explain to me how Ovo could provide at a cheaper price than British Gas
I think that the energy companies are now recognising that they have not done enough to keep their customers content and need to up their game Well done Ed Milliband !
I confirmed that I would move to Ovo but would be checking again in a years time (as we need to these days), the change should be completed in the next few days

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

The End of Philosophy

Today was (for me) sad as my Philosophy course finished and sorry to report that  I don't really know the meaning of everything.
Apart from filling out some feedback forms which will hopefully provide positive indications to the validity of the work that Scott had put into acquainting us with some of the great Philosophers of 'Modern' times we took a look at late period Wittgenstein and had a  short look at the question 'is this the end of philosophy ?
- The answer (I think) is no.

Ludwig Wittgenstein 1889 -1951 (the Philosopher) was one of several children born to a very rich  Austrian Steel Magnate (almost a pun there), three of his brothers committed suicide and he contemplated it himself. 
Initially he started his studies in Manchester in aeronautic engineering but after meeting with Frege in Jana he followed advice proffered by the older man and went to meet and study with Bertrand Russel in Cambridge.
At the start of his Philosophical musings Ludwig was what might be labeled a logical positivist but he emerged from this 'cul-de-sac' top work at the 'Theory of meaning' from a different perspective accepting the importance of language but embracing the ambiguity of it.
On realising that the almost infinite variety of sentence constructions meant that a full 'understanding'  was not practical he looked instead at how we are able to communicate via language without concrete rules and looked at Philosophy's focus and use of  language as being  centred on ordinary words used perversely, one of the bigger issues around language is perhaps what it is to be understood .

As we were at the end of our short philosophical  'journey' one of the areas that Scott (the course leader) suggested would (or could) be of interest to us was the work of Frans de Waal and his scientific work observing Chimpanzees and their 'morality' - books include Chimpanzee Politics (great name for a band) and How morality evolved (not so good).
This might provide some  illumination on something inherent in the human family - here's a short clip.