Category Archives: Uncategorized

Man at table VR test.

A lot of issues with this but it works! Lighting, textures, animation and a few other things like disabling back face culling on some objects needed attention, you can look up at the man from under the table, but the goal here was to just test the process of exporting a scene from the 3D application to a web page.

Mouse wheel will zoom in and out, held down to move left, right and up and down, left mouse button held down to rotate around the man at table.

 

Australia a (pre)police state?

Speech made by independent senator Andrew Wilkie back in 2015 and important for reasons related to the fact he made this speech to an empty chamber.

 

I’ve banged on for years and years about the erosion of civil and political rights here in Australia. We are not alone of course in being either stupid or a coward’s collective. Remember what John Curran said,The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance. and Benjamin Franklin’s “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety”. Last century a number of nations became dictatorships both of the far left and far right. This could happen at any time and anywhere if a few conditions are present including and essentially fear. Remembering Roosevelt’s famous The only thing we have to fear is fear itself’ listen to how your local politicians treat you like scared, dumb children.

 

Further to the previous, love and street kids.

In my previous post I included a screen cap where you can see a character grabbing the arm of my protagonist. The character is secondary but as work continues I’m finding he is a bit special to me. Not sure how this happened and maybe I’m basing him on a kid I knew when working as an art teacher in the juvenile justice system or managing youth programs on the outside but more likely he best represents what street kids have in common. That sense you don’t matter to society, that you are surplus to requirement. The Vietnamese, I was told years ago by a colleague who speaks that language, call them ‘the dust of life’, in Brazil and elsewhere in south and central America they are summarily murdered, bashed and if good looking are raped by police, criminals and private security guards. This stray kid in my comic strip is one of those street kids, dumped by his ‘caregiver mother’ probably too preoccupied with her own ‘issues’ which include ensuring a steady supply of sex, alcohol and drugs and as for the ‘father’, often his identity would be uncertain or as often happens, he is serving a long sentence or has moved on to a new ‘relationship’. Busy making more clients for social workers and prison guards.

We call these kids ‘throwaway’ in that the mother throws the kid out when it has grown from pet-child that is a ticket to social housing and the single mother pension into a troubled young person that needs love and proper parenting. Statistics show that here in Australia 48 percent of kids in the street or in state care are throwaways.

I might sound harsh but let me tell you just this one little incident that happened at a drop-in center I was running in the late nineties. Interested in photography I used to take portrait shots of some of our clients and one day noticing the patterns made by shadows of nearby trees on a corrugated-iron wall, I asked a boy who was then in his mid teens if he could stand against the wall, took the shot and lowering the camera found he was crying. No one, he told me trying to force a smile, had ever taken his picture.

Except maybe a mug shot at the local police station and that again just reinforces the sense of alienation these children feel. What is to other children an irritating part of being member of a family, grandma chasing you around wanting to take pictures, becomes the rejected child being recorded as something dangerous to society that if it cannot be safely locked up at least can be identified as we do for the safety of society, the various types of venomous snakes. What is usually an expression of love, an adult taking the picture of a loved child, is inverted into an expression of hate intended as much as anything else to humiliate and destroy.

The kid grabbing my protagonist’s arm and who dresses in a private school uniform is as I said, a secondary character. Why and how he came to dress like that will be revealed later in the story. I feel he should be more important but to do that would be to tell a lie. His life doesn’t change as in going from rags to riches like all goodies in a Hollywood film but rather he exists in an unchanging self-created space in which he can sleep, eat, dream and play with his few possessions one of which is a scooter he found chucked on the street and that he repaired and that is now to him a status symbol and his freedom to move within the city environment. Mostly he is ignored but is often actively driven away by the other kids and of course by society at large. He doesn’t do anything wrong, he just survives as best he can in a loveless and often dangerous environment. His goal, because all characters in a story have one even if it is forever elusive, is to find the two people who made him and, if he succeeds, then what will he ask them?

Blessings.

Art site back up.

 

Art site is back up with subdomain working happy to say but not happy that the down was caused by yours-truly making a mistake doing something as simple as changing dns settings. Yes – head hanging in shame.

Otherwise – busy busy working on comic strip, learning virtual reality and were that not enough and as I mentioned previously, doing a python course. I’ll admit that after the initial shock to my right-hemisphere-dominated brain had passed I’m even beginning to enjoy giving the left side a work out.

Otherwise and talking about the comic strip – below is a screen capture of the Krita UI in which I’m drawing an action that involves the story’s protagonist being shown a way to escape being shot by rogue police – the story is set in the early stages of a civilization in an advanced state of decay. The picture shows my methodology when drawing humans in action and basically just relies on first establishing a line of action, then a stick figure and then fleshing it out and finally adding details. Such as folds in clothes which are problematic in that folds which can be either stretch or gather are often very tricky to get right. The issue is and one that is not so obvious is that our perception or memory of any object is usually dominated by the up and down forgetting the fore and aft. That being if we can usually easily know or can guess how wide and how high something is, it is more difficult to work out and draw how deep it is. I find I have to conscientiously keep this in mind as a mistake in depth is often the reason something just doesn’t look right.

Quick – come!

Blessings.

 

 

 

 

 

My other site down and stuff.

Other than working on the comic strip I’m also looking at ways to upload 3d and virtual reality content to the Internet and have run into a few problems. One of those is that WordPress which ‘powers’ this and my other website does not support interactive content other than with a plug-in that enables 3d images and video but not the game-like interactivity I want. The WordPress blog says they are working on this but a possible solution could be to upload the VR content to a standard site and then link it into the WP sites using iframe. Something tells me it won’t work but with enthusiasm and determination to try this workaround I created a subdomain to the WordPress art site only to find it wasn’t visible.

My entrails told me this was going to become a major problem and so contacted the tech support people who advised I needed to change where the DNS points and in ‘up to 24 hours’ the change would propagate and all would be hunky dory. No worries and phew – my entrails were wrong, I did as instructed and found that the change also took the main site off air but a day would not be a major issue. That was three days ago and so far the change has propagated to two – yes two – countries. Now waiting for the good tech people to get back to me with a solution and so can’t say when the art site will be back up.

Talking about entrails and technology-related health issues, I surrendered under the duress of VR creation to the need to upgrade my coding skills and am now spending time learning Python and Java. I kid you not – when I look at code I have an allergic reaction that manifests itself as stomach cramps, sweaty palms and dizziness.  Still, I’m managing to finish modules and maybe this gradual acclimatization to complicated shallow thinking will cure what to a creative person is as boring as watching paint dry. To explain – a creative work is born deep within and then by force of having to manifest itself to the world, it rises up as Ginsberg explained and spews out of the artist. Today with virtual reality creating a space accessible to anyone with an Internet connection there is no escape from learning the tools needed to place texts of all kinds within this space. Actually, virtual reality is not new – Michael Angelo’s Sistine chapel paintings create a virtual environment designed to give the Renaissance peasant a vision of what heaven and hell could be. Pretty sure that had he lived today he would dump paintbrush, hammer and chisel for camera and computer.

OK and other than we are all happy the Thai boys were found safe and healthy, I’ll just dump a link here to a recent Human Rights Watch report on the treatment of gays in Indonesia. If you believe human rights are important including those of people you don’t like or agree with, then maybe cancel that holiday in Indonesia? Who would want to visit a nation where men – for whatever reason – are paraded naked in front of a jeering crowd?

Out taking pictures and boring in Sydney.

Been down to Sydney a few times recently researching and photographing locations for the comic strip and stumbled across the ‘Creative Sydney’ poster below and that caught my eye because of the picture it made when combined with graffiti and sandstone wall. All three elements form a snap shot of the state of creativity in this nation with the sandstone wall referencing tradition and past nation building, the tagging (graffiti) arguing ‘creative Sydney’ is illegal street art even if the tags themselves are stylistically a decades long process of copying a long lost original and then the poster itself which is pegged down well within the boundaries of the acceptable. None of this would be a real problem were it not for the fact and as seemingly understood by who or whatever commissioned the poster, that ‘creativity’ has dollar value. Will this poster contribute in any significant way towards the goal of making Sydney a powerhouse of creativity with billions of dollars pouring into the State’s coffers ?

Creative Sydney poster tagged and behind sandstone wall.

Not sure the city authorities understand what creative people need.

Walking around the city center looking for something, anything, that could be of some use to my comic book project the more distance traveled the more I wanted to puke. As a city Sydney is sanitized and made appropriate and inoffensive to all including the children of millionaires with now a lovely playground sitting right next to the fountain in Kings Cross where previously the homeless, rent boys, prostitutes and drug dealers hung out. OK – nice, clean and the locals living in their multi million dollar flats can now park their Ferrari’s and designer bicycles in what were once-upon-a-time dark back alleys without fearing they being vomited on by drug-fucked and homeless ‘losers’. The poor, the homeless, the artists, the musicians, the poets and that essential demi-monde have been pushed out and I doubt a poster can fill the void.

 

Bike riding in the suburbs a few days later I actually found a location that could be useful. Horrible cliche though – you know – the urban decay and graffiti thing but has potential as a backdrop for some depravity or other gratuitously violent action. Below are a few pictures taken as part of my search for locations.

 

mountain bike leening against wire fence that surrounds abandoned commercial centre along parramatta road Sydney

The trusty MTB bike. For sure it will be immortalized in the comic strip.

black and white of abandoned petrol station on Parramatta road Sydney.

Had some fun in RawTherapee and Gimp with one of the pictures taken at the abandoned commercial center site.

Railway pedestrian tunnel at Lawson railway station Blue Mountains New South Wales Australia

In the Blue Mountains town of Lawson and not Sydney but could be useful.

On the topic of art and culture it appears much today is part of this now mainstream social engineering trend and nothing of the past appears to be beyond re-interpretation such as below Australian photographer Max Dupain’s famous ‘Sunbaker’ taken in 1937 and used here in an anti-racism poster. Right or wrong in intention I think this takes away from Dupain’s work which was about the sun baked, free, democratic and prosperous Australian lifestyle. Anyway, had a bit of Gimp fun with that one as well.

max dupain's 'Sunbaker' in anti-racism poster.

He is not dreaming – he is living it.

Blessings.

Journalism and achieving the void.

Listening to professor Sora Park of the University of Canberra this morning talking about ‘fake news’. As much as many don’t like Trump, they can’t resist his setting the subject of discussion. Wasn’t it Trump who first came up with this notion of ‘fake news’ and ‘alternative facts’? Anyway, not mentioned by the professor was story selection as in if there are twenty possible stories on a given day, which ones are selected ? As worrying as fabricated news, I find, is the fact news services have lost their impartiality even if they can claim not manufacturing ‘fake news’. If I gave you a subject such as climate change, mass migration out of Africa or gender pay equality, I don’t need to read ‘The Guardian’, ‘Daily Telegraph’ or ‘The Australian” to know what they would have to say. News organizations identify their audience and simply feed back to that audience what they are already thinking by selective content and biased interpretation of stories that cannot be avoided.

Adding to that is of course which way the news service leans politically. For example, Trump’s bromance with Kim is reported extensively throughout the world but barely gets thirty seconds of cynical mention on France 2 because the French government is upset with Trump’s trade tariffs. No expert commentary nor analysis despite the meeting possibly marking the beginning of the end to the Korean war. Another example, and this time television news, would be the commercial Channel Nine reporting on a drop in temperature as an ‘early winter snap’, or something to that effect. The truth is all this year temperatures in Australia have been consistently and worryingly well above average and up until that recent cooling which itself was probably caused by fluctuations in the very disrupted southern jet stream. Channel Nine in the same bulletin then went on to describe a power outage that never actually happened but was severe enough to make the point renewables cannot be relied on to provide baseline power.

The French by comparison and to their credit when reporting on their current flood crisis – which by the way has not got a mention on any news service here in Australia as far as I know – did bring in an expert who clearly explained the ongoing floods are the result of climate change. No Australian news service, public or private, would have done the same when reporting on flood events such as the recent one in Hobart. Rather the focus would be and as a distraction from the cause, the heroic first responders and that the locals are tough because they are from [insert region here] and love each other immensely.

We hear all the time and especially from our two public broadcasters, that they deliver quality journalism, are unbiased and seek diversity in the news room but clearly that is not the case. Again story selection and extent of reporting as for example the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) giving more coverage in one recent bulletin to Serena William’s pectoral muscle problem than the Fuego Volcano eruption in Guatemala. With diversity, the common assumption is that it is achieved by replacing white males, especially older, with men of color and as many women both of color and not of color that can possibly be squeezed in even if that means creating as is the case again with the ABC, news and commentary shows that often simply replicate each other and repeat the same stories with the same footage and sources. As Kovach and Rosenstiel wrote in their book “The Elements of Journalism”, true diversity in a newsroom is diversity of opinion not diversity of skin color and gender because the later assumes that women, people of color, and today you could chuck in LGBTQI people, all share the same opinions and views. The opinion of one woman does not reflect that of all women anymore than a single Aboriginal man can claim to speak for all Aboriginal people. If true it would follow that only white heterosexual males are capable of independent and original thought which is of course a ridiculous proposition.

 

Latest on my side is that the comic strip project is progressing but has slowed down somewhat because thinking through not just details of the narrative but also the context within which it is told. I identified a need to spend more time working on all that is not narrative and to say what I feel and want to say and not what I learned at university are the ingredients of every great story. Lesson actually learned from Kurt Vonnegut who said – I apologize if I get details wrong here – that when he set out to write ‘Slaughterhouse Five’ he had fame, fortune and big Hollywood studios in mind and was getting nowhere until his wife said he should tell it as it was and not fluff up his prisoner-of-war experience. He and his peers, as Kurt said, were not ‘heroes’ whose story is worthy of a blockbuster movie but rather just scared boys in a German prisoner-of-war camp.

Other than the project, it’s the battle against the resurgent diabetes problem in which I’m now tracking blood glucose levels against stress as I have a strong suspicion the two are linked and that stress can actually trigger or be a major contributor to the onset of type 2. I’ve found research papers that discuss that possibility and in cooperation with my local general practitioner am trying to find a treatment that minimizes medication and is more focused on diet, exercise such as mountain bike riding and stress reduction activities such as trying to increase the length and frequency of Iaido practice. On that last one I’m again going back over Miyamoto Musashi’s ‘Book of Five Rings’ as I have done many times over the past thirty years but this time and only a short while ago, I put the book down having realized it has taken this long to begin to really understand what the old samurai was on about. I can’t explain it, the only way to experience this yourself is to get a copy, buy a boken or sword if you can afford a proper one, read, study, think, practice and with time and patience a crack in the wall will appear but even then it might take another life time, as I fear is my case, before you achieve what you set out to achieve which – this I can tell you – is the void. Substantially nothing.

“In the void is virtue, and no evil. Wisdom has existence, principle has existence, the Way has existence, spirit is nothingness”.

Body and (great) art.

About the boy.

I know, I know, I bang on a lot about ‘the boy’ and some I know question my motives for doing so. The simple answer could be that I just like upsetting people but that would not be true, the question is important with regard to culture and society and so much so Greer wrote a book and made a television documentary on the subject of what she called the ‘beautiful boy’. On the back jacket of the book she declared her intention as follows, ‘I’d like to reclaim for women the right to appreciate the short-lived beauty of boys’.

The book and television documentary drew a lot of criticism with Australian tabloid newspapers accusing her of being a ‘once great academic who was now just a silly old woman’ when they did not outright call her a pedophile. Pedophile I don’t know but great academic she could arguably be and there had to be good reason she identified the ‘beautiful boy’ as something important to female equality. She suggests one reason herself – the boy, she writes, is the most ubiquitous representation of the human form in western art from the renaissance up unto, she claims, the nineteenth century when mysteriously he disappears from art gallery walls. In a well-received essay I wrote over ten years ago, I argued the boy did not disappear in the nineteenth century as a result of women gaining access to art galleries as Greer claims but rather disappeared in the nineteen seventies and as a result of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) been run over by the feminist/LGBTQI movement. Visconti’s 1971 screen adaptation of Thomas Mann’s novelette “Death in Venice” is probably the last major work of art which discuses and celebrates art and culture as embodied in and informed by the ‘beautiful boy’.

This is where the interest, mine included, lies; western art and culture in all its exceptional manifestations is undeniably based on the young male aesthetic and that not just since the renaissance but since antiquity. Many have pointed out the high points of western civilization are also the periods when the most statues, paintings and written texts were created and that celebrate the beauty of young males. Any alien scientist studying the human species would make that observation and declare there must exist a connection between freedom to appreciate the beauty of young males and the creation of great art. Greer made that connection but where she could well have been a ‘silly old woman’ was in the belief that right could be reclaimed (implying it was previously denied) and women would go on to produce works equivalent to those of the best of the male-created masterpieces. She got it all wrong in focusing on the gender and sexual aspects of the issue and she suffered the consequences of that mistake so easily made by someone who does not understand what s/he is trying to discuss. Greer and all those who only see the sexual should read / reread the following passage in Death in Venice,

Ashenbash has received a letter asking him to contribute to a discussion on ‘a certain important cultural problem’ and one Mann writes, ‘that is close to his experience’. Ashenbach, (a famous author in the book and musician in the film) sits down at a table by the beach to write a response – Tadzio, the beautiful boy, is as usual loitering in sight of the writer.

“And what he craved, indeed, was to work on it in Tadzio’s presence, to take the boy’s physique for a model as he wrote, to let his style follow the lineaments of this body which he saw as divine, and to carry its beauty on high into the spiritual world, as the eagle once carried the Trojan shepherd boy into the ether. Never had he felt the joy of the word more sweetly, never had he known so clearly that Eros dwells in language, as during those perilously precious hours in which, seated at his rough table under the awning, in full view of his idol and with the music of his voice in his ears, he shaped upon Tadzio’s beauty his brief essay – that page and a half of exquisite prose which with its limpid nobility and vibrant controlled passion was soon to win the admiration of many.”

In brief and pulling no punches because I and others are getting sick and tired of having to continuously explain ourselves to the most ignorant and prejudiced people God ever breathed life into, if you don’t understand how style can follow the human form in what is its most uncompromised expression then please go fuck yourself or – male or female or as yet not classified – go jerk off to the best of your Kylie video collection.

Being a lad in the early fifties. Sex, violence and no poofters.

Looking through some pulp and comic strip publications of the late forties and early fifties I found the advertising gives us a good idea of the expectations placed on young males. Surprisingly huge body image pressure, ability to successfully mate and ability to earn as much money as is never enough. The other thing I found was how gullible and naive the target audience must have been and also going on advertising, that girls must have been regular readers of comic strips primarily targeted at a young male audience. The advertisers must have found that girls also loved war, crime, cowboys and as much sleaze as could make its way passed the censors. Below are a few examples taken as screen captures from my document reader and sorry for the bad quality.

First up this piece of utter garbage made up of a photograph of a boy with the totally anatomically incorrect chest I would say is a clumsy airbrush job. The little line-art frame with the two scantly dressed females whispering behind the skinny boy’s back they will ‘pass him by’ is a direct attempt to use sexual angst of the young teenage boy as the main selling point. I could not imagine such a thing today and especially if the gender roles were reversed.

Fifties ad for body building program with image of young male with grossly exaggerated chest and arm muscles.

Head is a photograph but body is a stuck on and rather poor quality airbrush job. No photoshop in those days.

 

Below is another example of the same thing and this time – hey, hey, hey – no less than Charles Atlas as your personal trainer. What sort of teenage boy would not want Charles Atlas taking personal care of his body? Especially a Charles Atlas dressed in those superman outside undies. Wow. Again the line-art little comic strip uses sexual angst but also this time the ability to belt the crap out of other boys. BTW – studies (today as in 21st century) show that teenage boys are the most frequent victims of violence. Notice also that in the strip section of the advertisement violence between males is rewarded with sexual advantage.

Phew – those superman inside-out undies!!!

Pimples – a curse on teenagers then and now and, here’s something I observed as a youth worker, I have never seen a happy teenager and that had bad acne.  Just an observation – I’m not claiming acne is always linked to poor mental health.

Nothing new about pimples either.

Here’s another interesting ad and that points to what was expected of young males back in dem good ol days. Prestige among peers for in this case being the proud owner of a tin coin box that – wow every child’s dream – lights one of six pictures every time you put a coin in the slot. Battery and light bulb included it says in the ad. The purpose here is a rather clumsy attempt to bring together parent approval and child want. Pretty sure the manufacturer would have gone broke. No child would waste precious paperboy money on the exhilarating experience of seeing the same boring six images magically light up over and over again. Unless s/he had been smoking fried banana peels as kids did in those days.

The speaker was quality painted on the tin coin box. Whoopee!

Speaking of novelties and life expectations check out the page of advertising below. Body image and masculinity once again (poor skinny teenage boy of the fifties), education, business and how to hypnotize! Now that’s a solution to all your access to the mysterious opposite gender problems – hypnotize the bitch and have your way with her you skinny boy wimp! And now that you are that evil hypnotizer of young and beautiful girls you must absolutely have the skull ring also advertised on this page and coincidentally just below the evil face of the evil hypnotizer! I wonder how many teenage girls pretended the hypnosis worked… Hmmmm…

 

Conning children into buying an ‘adult’ product. Notice top left , where you start reading a page, the boy in raptures with his new watch, mum and grandma behind him giving approval and the other background figures are adults who use that very same watch in their exciting everyday lives of action and adventure.

What the ‘F’ would you do with the ‘world’s smallest ball point pen”? Unless of course you have the ‘world’s smallest fingers”. Surprised they didn’t throw in ‘shaped just like space rockets’ and ‘writes in any language”. Love also to know in those times when internet was the stuff of science fiction, how the swing-out weather forecaster worked?

 

And not forgetting women who then as today are always after a quick fix to the problem of getting fat but this one must be by far better than anything Jenny Craig came up with. Basically just chew gum instead of eating and I wonder how many females reading this are right now googling “Kelpidine Chewing Gum”.

Free Sexy Outfit to any young woman who manages to chew gun for twenty five days instead of eating Mamma’s good tasty meals.

Once you, teenage girl of the nineteen fifties, got that sexy dress you’re next concern was how to score the hottest, highest-earning-potential, big ‘muscle’ boy? That need is addressed as well in your brother’s copy of ‘Man Comics’. “How to write thrilling love letters”. Now here’s a suggestion for the great-grandma’s who might still have a copy in the attic and who are living on the minuscule old-age pension. The grannies who picked the wrong boy at the school dance – the real prize was skinny boy, yep the one who bored everyone with his stories about future ‘micro-processors’ replacing then state-of-the-art tube valves.  Anyway, drag out your copy of ‘How to write thrilling love letters” change that to “How to write thrilling emails to your chosen life partner and with bonus section on sexting”. List on Amazon and Smashwords and your financial worries are over.

Not recommended for suspected gay boys whose bedroom is searched by parents on a regular basis.

And with near all men of the time been veterans of either WWI, WWII or even both, there were huge problems with what we now know to be Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)  which could lead as we would understand today, to substance and alcohol abuse and psychotic and violent behaviors including domestic violence which very often was directed at boys as the image below correctly identifies as been the case. It takes according to research, three to four generations to completely breed out the emotional damage caused by war. The veteran father damages the son who then  becomes a dysfunctional father himself and that goes on until grandson or even great-grandson of the veteran. Unless of course there is another war which sets things back to square one.

The ‘true story’ correctly identifies a violent home as a major cause of juvenile crime.

Fresh water and life’s latest.

First up the latest post from professor Paul Beckwith from the University of Ottawa. His youtube channel and website are a good source of reliable climate information. The one below, his latest, is about fresh water.

 

My life latest is that I was supposed to have a stress test at the local hospital, check the old ticker is working properly, but when the cardiologist saw me walk in with a bike helmet and I told him I regularly do 70 plus kilometers of trail riding, he decided I didn’t need one. But, further into the discussion he wanted to slam me into a hospital bed telling me my efforts to beat diabetes by natural means have not been entirely successful. When I declined the offer of free meals and accommodation, he then listed all the shocking and horrible things I could look forward to and whilst he was reading out the shopping list, I was mentally ticking them off as already happening. Not good. So in a few months (yes – that’s a short wait for an appointment) I’ll be back in the endocrinologist’s office and with a little luck s/he will be able to give me the precise information I need to plan for the years ahead. Diabetes today is not as big a deal as it used to be, a death sentence, but from my perspective it could mean a major upset in the planning department. Meanwhile, I’ll just keep plodding on looking for an income and working on the comic strip. Who knows it might even be successful and if not, who cares – making it is fun enough to justify the time and effort.