Saturday, 27 August 2011

Art Class

I used to go to a life drawing class many years ago. There were two models who posed for us on alternate weeks: a male model, who was a taxi driver by day, and a female model, who was an art student. This is a preliminary sketch of the male model. I did it on the edge of my paper to get the feel of the pose before starting to draw in earnest. I haven't got that main picture anymore; I thought more of the sketch, so tore it out and kept it. I think it catches something of the man and the pose as I remember it.
Interestingly, I remember comparing this sketch with the main picture at the end of the session and noticing that the model's pose was almost a mirror image of how he had started. Very slowly over the course of the session, he had shifted from the pose above to what was almost its reflection without any of us realising that he was doing it.


Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Religion – Practical, Philosophical or Both?

Here is an interesting comment from an article entitled 'Design Flaws' by Martin Bell in The Philosophers' Magazine (Volume 54, p80 - 3rd Quarter, 2011).

"Popular religions are practical; they're used as guides to living. But philosophical religion has no implications for how we should live."

It is interesting to ponder over this suggestion. It seems reasonable to suggest that the churches that appear to be growing are those which offer clear guidance about how to live. (Even if one might not agree with certain behavioural restrictions many of them seem keen to apply.) Those that are not growing and appear to lack relevance are those more closely associated with thinking and talking about religion rather than living it out. Broadly speaking, 'free churches' belong to the former category and 'established churches' to the latter. The question is, can the latter, given the way they are set up as human institutions, stop looking like places were religion is only a cerebral thing and become places where it is a more active part of life? (I very much doubt that the former would want to become anything like the latter. So the converse question doesn't really apply.)

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Countdown to the London Olympics

I saw a 'Countdown to the Olympics' clock in Zurich airport yesterday and noticed that while I was there the time was a palindrome.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011


I found this picture on the web at It shows the main lines of internet bandwidth – or some such thing. (I'm not entirely sure of the precise details.) What is more interesting, from my point of view, is that one can almost see the underlying geography of the world without it needing to be drawn on this image. All that is needed is a bit of imagination. One can make out Europe in the top centre. There's even a fuzzy patch which appears to be Scotland. North America is to the upper left and South America, Asia and Australia stretch across the lower portions of the image.


Thursday, 11 August 2011

'Danube' Fish

Danube Fish

I worked in Austria as a fellow at the Konrad Lorenz Institute during the summer of 2005. On 1st May (the day after I arrived), I went for a long walk around the village of Altenberg. Here there is a lake which was once a stretch of the River Danube before the river was diverted  and dammed when the power station at Greifenstein was built in the early 1980s. In that lake - the Altarm - one could see large fish. I was able to take the picture below - which has been manipulated a bit to make the fish more prominent. I know nothing about the different species of fish but I suspect that this may be a trout – which brings to mind Schubert's quintet. [Listen]

Sunday, 7 August 2011

On Retirement

I'm not about to retire but this says a lot. It very much sums up how I feel about the notion of 'retirement'.

"True thinkers never retire, they are just set free from their day jobs."

Monday, 1 August 2011

100 Year Old Tree

Last year, I saw this commemorative slab on the east wall of Saint John the Baptist Church, Pentrobin, North Wales.


When I was a boy there was a song called 'It Only Took a Minute' by 'Joe Brown and the Bruvvers'. In the opening line, are the words 'It took a hundred years to make that old tree grow'. (I thought until last week that it was 'oak tree' - as in the picture - but be that as it may.) I used to wonder what a 100 year old tree looked like. Who knows when a particular tree was planted; they don't usually have plaques telling us when. It also struck me how, if one were to plant a tree, one wouldn't be around to see it when it reached that age. Now I know. Well, more-or-less. When the tree in the picture below was planted it would have been a sapling, so perhaps I now know what a 101 year old tree looks like.


You should also be able to see the tree from above here.

This somewhat autmnal capture from Google Street View shows the tree without its leaves: