Sunday, November 29, 2015

Neglected Important Artists, No. 20: Snow Scenes

Neglected Important Artists, No. 20
Snow Scenes

A Snow Covered Village by Nadezhda Stupina (20th/21st Centuries)

       Winter Landscape by Lucas van Valckenborch (1530 - 1597)

      Pont sur le Drugeon sous la neige by Rober Fernier (1895 - 1977)

Winter by Valerius de Saedeleer (1876-1946)

Winter Landscape by Gysbrecht Leytens (1586 - 1656

Morning Light by Walter Elmer Schofield (1866 - 1944)

       Winter Twilight along Central Park by Paul Cornoyer (1864 - 1923)

Winter Wonderland by Maxwell Mays (born: 1918)

Manetti Lane by Glenn O. Coleman (1884 - 1932)

Snow scene with horses and carriages by Guy Wiggins (1883-1962)

Magdalena Bay by François Auguste Biard (1798 - 1882)

New York in the Snow by Guy Wiggins (1883 - 1962)

Three Poems about Snow by Robert Frost

Robert Frost

Robert Lee Frost (1874 - 1963) was an American poet. His work was initially published in England before it was published in America. He is highly regarded for his realistic depictions of rural life and his command of American colloquial speech. His work frequently employed settings from rural life in New England in the early twentieth century, using them to examine complex social and philosophical themes. One of the most popular and critically respected American poets of the twentieth century, Frost was honored frequently during his lifetime, receiving four Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry. He became one of America's rare "public literary figures, almost an artistic institution." He was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 1960 for his poetical works. On July 22, 1961, Frost was named Poet laureate of Vermont.

*           *           *

Dust Of Snow
by Robert Frost

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued. 

*           *           *

Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening

by Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though; 
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

*           *           * 

   The Onset
   by Robert Frost

ALWAYS the same, when on a fated night
At last the gathered snow lets down as white
As may be in dark woods, and with a song
It shall not make again all winter long
Of hissing on the yet uncovered ground,
I almost stumble looking up and round,
As one who overtaken by the end
Gives up his errand, and lets death descend
Upon him where he is, with nothing done
To evil, no important triumph won,
More than if life had never been begun.

Yet all the precedent is on my side:
I know that winter death has never tried
The earth but it has failed: the snow may heap
In long storms an undrifted four feet deep
As measured against maple, birch and oak,
It cannot check the peeper's silver croak;
And I shall see the snow all go down hill
In water of a slender April rill
That flashes tail through last year's withered brake
And dead weeds, like a disappearing snake.
Nothing will be left white but here a birch,
And there a clump of houses with a church. 

Monday, November 23, 2015


The often repeated statement that one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fight reflects genuine doubts about what constitutes 'terrorism'. Further complicating the issue is an ever-changing definition of terrorist activity which now seems to include the mass murder of civilians exemplified by the World Trade Center attack in New York City on September 11, 2002, and the Paris, France, attack on November 13, 2015 . Until recently, the U.S has been protected by its oceans and immune to European-style terrorism, but not any more.

The attacks on the World Trade Center and the U.S. Pentagon attack in Washington, D.C. on the same day confirmed that terrorism had acquired a new face. Terrorists were now engaged in a campaign of suicide and mass murder on a huge scale. Previously it had been possible to believe that there were limits beyond which even terrorists would not go. After the thousands of deaths on September 11, it was evident that at least one group would stop at nothing.
Terrorism was not always like this. Its history is as much European as Middle Eastern, and as much secular as religious. Far from being willfully indiscriminate, it was often pointedly discriminate. Yet, there are some common threads that can be traced through the history of terrorism. What happened on September 11 was a sinister new twist in an old story of fascination with political violence.
The word 'terrorism' entered into European languages in the wake of the French revolution of 1789. In the early revolutionary years, it was largely by violence that governments in Paris tried to impose their radical new order on a reluctant citizenry. As a result, the first meaning of the word 'terrorism', as recorded by the Académie Française in 1798, was 'system or rule of terror'. This serves as a healthy reminder that terror is often at its bloodiest when used by dictatorial governments against their own citizens.

During the 19th century, terrorism underwent a transformation and came to be associated, as it still is today, with non-governmental groups. One such group - the small band of Russian revolutionaries of 'Narodnaya Volya' (the people's will) in 1878-81 - used the word 'terrorist' proudly. They developed certain ideas that were to become the hallmark of subsequent terrorism in many countries. They believed in the targeted killing of the 'leaders of oppression'; they were convinced that the developing technologies of the age - symbolized by bombs and bullets - enabled them to strike directly and discriminately. Above all, they believed that the Tsarist system against which they were fighting was fundamentally rotten. They propagated what has remained the common terrorist delusion that violent acts would spark off revolution. Their efforts led to the assassination of Tsar Alexander II on 13 March 1881 - but that event failed completely to have the revolutionary effects of which the terrorists had dreamed.
Terrorism continued for many decades to be associated primarily with the assassination of political leaders and heads of state. This was symbolized by the killing of the Austrian Archduke Ferdinand by a 19-year-old Bosnian Serb student, Gavril Princip, in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914. The huge consequences of this event were not the ones that Princip and his fellow members of 'Young Bosnia' had envisaged. Princip could not believe that the assassination had triggered the outbreak of world war in 1914. In general, the extensive practice of assassination in the 20th century seldom had the particular effects for which terrorists hoped.

In the half-century after the World War Two, terrorism broadened well beyond assassination of political leaders and heads of state. In certain European colonies, terrorist movements developed, often with two distinct purposes. The first was obvious: to put pressure on the colonial powers (such as Britain, France, and the Netherlands) to hasten their withdrawal. The second was more subtle: to intimidate the indigenous population into supporting a particular group's claims to leadership of the emerging post-colonial state. Sometimes these strategies had some success, but not always. India's achievement of independence in 1947 was mainly the result, not of terrorism, but of the movement of non-violent civil disobedience led by Gandhi. In Malaya, communist terrorists launched a major campaign in 1948, but they failed due to a mixture of determined British military opposition and a program of political reform leading to independence.

Civilians as Targets
Terrorism did not end after the winding-up of the main European overseas empires in the 1950s and 1960s. It continued in many regions in response to many circumstances. In South-East Asia, the Middle East and Latin America there were killings of policemen and local officials, hostage-takings, hijackings of aircraft, and bombings of buildings. In many actions, civilians became targets. In some cases governments became involved in supporting terrorism, almost invariably at arm's length so as to be deniable. The causes espoused by terrorists encompassed not just revolutionary socialism and nationalism, but also in a few cases religious doctrines. Law, even the modest body of rules setting some limits in armed conflict between states, could be ignored in a higher cause.

How did certain terrorist movements come to be associated with indiscriminate killings? When in September 1970 Palestinian terrorists hijacked several large aircraft and blew them up on the ground in Jordan but let the passengers free, these acts were viewed by many with as much fascination as horror. Then in September 1972 11 Israelis were murdered in a Palestinian attack on Israeli athletes at the Olympic Games at Munich. This event showed a determination to kill: the revulsion felt in many countries was stronger than two years earlier.

A justification offered by the perpetrators of these and many subsequent terrorist actions in the Middle East was that the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza (which had begun in 1967) was an exercise of violence against which counter-violence was legitimate. The same was said in connection with the suicide bombings by which Palestinians attacked Israel in 2001-2. In some of the suicide bombings there was a new element which had not been evident in the Palestinian terrorism of 2 or 3 decades earlier: Islamic religious extremism.

Beyond the State
In the 1990s, a new face of terrorism emerged. Osama Bin Laden, son of a successful construction engineer, became leader of a small fanatical Islamic movement called Al-Qaida (The Base). Its public statements were an odd mixture of religious extremism, contempt for existing Arab regimes, hostility to U.S. dominance, and insensitivity to the effects of terrorist actions. Many of its leaders, having helped to free Afghanistan of Soviet occupation in the 1980s, now developed the broader ambition of resisting western dominance, especially in Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt. In pursuit of these ambitions they killed hundreds in bombings of US embassies in Africa in August 1998. Here was a new kind of terrorist movement that had a cause, and a network, that was not confined to any one state, and whose adherents were willing to commit suicide if they could thereby inflict carnage and destruction on their adversaries, as they did on September 11. Since their aims were vague and apocalyptic, there was little scope for any kind of compromise or negotiation.

Can the huge variety of forms of action be categorized under the single label of 'terrorist'? The term is contentious: very few people apart from the Russian Tsar-killers have actually called themselves terrorists. Yet, there are some common factors that can be detected behind the many changing faces of terrorism. First, it usually has an unofficial character, claiming to be the result of an upsurge of public feeling. (However, many governments secretly instigate or support it.) Second, terrorism is based on a naïve belief that a few acts of violence, often against symbolic targets representing the power of the adversary, will transform the political landscape in a beneficial way. Third, terrorism has become increasingly involved in attacking innocent civilians - often with the purpose of demonstrating that the state is incapable of protecting its own people. Fourth, terrorists generally underestimate the strong revulsion of ordinary people to acts of political violence.

There is a further common factor - the tendency of terrorism to become endemic in particular countries and regions. Started by the Left, it has been continued by the Right, and vice versa. Started in a nationalist cause, it is then employed in resistance to the resulting state. Started to cleanse society of corruption and external control, it continues in support of the drug trade and prostitution. If violence becomes a habit, its net effect can be to prevent economic development, to provide a justification for official violence, and to perpetuate existing patterns of dominance and submission.

Defining terrorism
Since there are common factors, it ought to be possible to define terrorism. In the 1960s the U.N. General Assembly embarked on an attempt to do this. Initially little progress was made, partly because many states were reluctant to go far along the road of outlawing terrorism unless at the same time the 'causes of terrorism' were addressed. Other states saw this approach as implying that terrorism was a response to real grievances, and thereby insinuating that it was justified.

Thus the main emphasis at the U.N. was on limited practical measures. In a series of twelve  international conventions drawn up between 1963 and 1999, particular terrorist actions, such as aircraft hijacking and diplomatic hostage-taking, were prohibited. As the 1990s progressed, and concern about terrorism increased, the U.N. General Assembly embarked on discussions about defining and outlawing terrorism generally. Its Legal Committee issued a rough draft of a convention. It reiterates that criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public, a group of persons or particular persons for political purposes are in any circumstances unjustifiable, whatever the considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or other nature that may be used to justify them.
There are still disagreements between states about this draft convention. Even if it is eventually agreed, there is a difference between agreement on the general principle of outlawing terrorism and its application to particular facts. The labeling of individuals and movements as 'terrorist' will remain complicated and highly political. Two key questions arise: (1) Is it reliance on terror that truly distinguishes a movement from its political opponents? (2) Even if parts of a movement have employed terrorist methods, is 'terrorist' an accurate description of the movement as a whole, made up of many different wings, and employing many different modes of action?

What next?
The facile and oft-repeated statement 'One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter' reflects genuine doubts about the term. In the past there have been strong disagreements about whether certain movements were or were not terrorist: for example, the Jewish extremist group Irgun in Palestine in the 1940s, the Viet Cong in South Vietnam from the late 1950s to the mid-1970s, and the Provisional I.R.A. in Northern Ireland from the late 1960s onwards. Famously, in 1987-8 the U.K. and U.S. governments labeled the African National Congress of South Africa 'terrorist': a questionable attribution even at the time not because there had been no violence, but because the ANC's use of violence had been discriminate and had constituted only a small part of the ANC's overall strategy.

The new face of terrorism as mass murder is significantly changing such debates. The extremism of the September 11 attacks has led to a strong international reaction. As a result, none of the 189 member states of the U.N. opposed the U.S.A.'s right to take military action in Afghanistan after the events of September 11, and none has offered explicit support for Al-Qaida. While there remain numerous concerns about the direction of the U.S. and international moves against terrorism, and it is too early to say that the new face of terrorism is on the retreat, it is not too early to hazard the guess that, by engaging in crimes against humanity, the new face of terrorism may have contributed to its own eventual demise.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Interesting Random Facts: No. 2

Glass takes one million years to decompose, which means it never wears out and can be recycled an infinite amount of times!

Gold is the only metal that doesn't rust, even if it's buried in the ground for thousands of years.

Your tongue is the only muscle in your body that is attached at only one end.

If you stop getting thirsty, you need to drink more water. When a human body is dehydrated, its thirst mechanism shuts off.

Zero is the only number that cannot be represented by Roman numerals.

Kites were used in the American Civil War to deliver letters and newspapers.

The song, Auld Lang Syne, is sung at the stroke of midnight in almost every  English-speaking country in the world to bring in the new year.

Drinking water after eating reduces the acid in your mouth by 61 percent.

Peanut oil is used for cooking in submarines because it doesn't smoke unless it's heated above 450F.

The roar that we hear when we place a seashell next to our ear is not the ocean, but rather the sound of blood surging through the veins in the ear.

Nine out of every 10 living things live in the ocean.

The banana cannot reproduce itself. It can be propagated only by the hand of man.

Airports at higher altitudes require a longer airstrip (runways) because of lower air density.

The University of Alaska spans four time zones.

The tooth is the only part of the human body that cannot heal itself.

In Ancient Greece, tossing an apple to a girl was a traditional proposal of marriage. Catching it meant she accepted.

Warner Communications paid 28 million for the copyright to the song Happy Birthday.

Intelligent people have more zinc and copper in their hair.

A comet's tail always point away from the sun.

The Swine Flu vaccine in 1976 caused more death and illness than the disease it was intended to prevent.

Caffeine increases the power of aspirin and other painkillers, that is why it is found in some medicines.

The military salute is a motion that evolved from medieval times, when knights in armor raised their visors to reveal their identity.

If you get into the bottom of a well or a tall chimney and look up, you can see stars, even in the middle of the day.

When a person dies, hearing is the last sense to go. The first sense lost is sight.

In ancient times, strangers shook hands to show that they were unarmed.

Strawberries are the only fruits whose seeds grow on the outside.

Avocados have the highest calories of any fruit at 167 calories per hundred grams.

The moon moves about two inches away from the Earth each year.

The Earth gets 100 tons heavier every day due to falling space dust.

Due to earth's gravity it is impossible for mountains to be higher than 15,000  meters.

Mickey Mouse is known as "Topolino" in Italy.

Soldiers do not march in step when going across bridges because they could set up a vibration which could be sufficient to knock the bridge down.

Everything (including people) weighs one percent less at the equator.

For every extra kilogram carried on a space flight, 530 kg of excess fuel are needed at lift-off.

The letter J does not appear anywhere on the periodic table of the elements

Saturday, November 14, 2015

America MournsThe Paris Victims

America mourn the victims of the Paris
 terrorist attack.

Three teams of killers carried out the coordinated suicide mission across Paris on Friday that killed 129 people and wounded at least 352 more, French officials said Saturday.

French troops policed the streets in the aftermath as investigators scoured six bloody crime scenes and shock hovered over the city after the deadliest attack on French soil since Nazis invaded in World War II.

French President Francois Hollande vowed a "merciless" response to the slaughter after ISIS claimed responsibility.

The Metropolitan Opera in New York City showed its support for the people of Paris in the wake of the terrorist attacks by opening its Saturday matinee of Puccini’s “Tosca” with Plácido Domingo conducting the orchestra and chorus in the French national anthem, “La Marseillaise.” Inserts with the anthem’s lyrics were placed into the programs, and members of the audience rose to their feet, and some sang along, as the Met’s chorus, principal singers and some members of the company’s staff gathered together on stage and sang “La Marseillaise,” with the Act I set of the church of Sant’Andrea della Valle in the background.Mr. Domingo, one of the world’s most famous opera singers, was already scheduled to conduct the matinee.

When the U.S. Army football team took the field for Saturday's game against Tulane, the Black Knights delivered a message of solidarity with the French people in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris. The team ran on to its home field at West Point with defensive back Caleb McNeill carrying a French flag while another team member ran out with an American flag.

A crowd of about 70 people, many of them French nationals and French students studying in the U.S., gathered at a vigil in New York City’s Union Square on Friday evening in the wake of the attacks on Paris that day.

France is America's oldest ally. 

Neglected Important Artists, No. 19

Angel Zarraga

Biography of Angel Zárraga
Angel Zárraga (1886-1946) was a Mexican painter. He was born in the Barrio de Analco of city of Durango and was the son of a physician, Dr. Fernando Zárraga, and of his wife Guadalupe Argüelles. While he visited the Escuela Nacional Preparatoria in Mexico City, he made first contacts with the artistic and intellectual scene and he studied painting at the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes (ENBA). His family enabled him to go on a art study trip to Europe in 1904 where he visited and exhibited in Spain,  France and Italy. He also took courses at the Royal Academies for Science and the Arts of Belgium.
In 1906, he exhibited some of his pictures in the Museo del Prado in Madrid, Spain, and in 1907, he had an ENBA exhibition. He participated in the 1909 Biennale di Venezia in Venice, Italy,  and exhibited in the Salon at the Piazzale DonatelloFlorence. In 1911, he moved to France and he only returned to Italy once at the outbreak of World War I for a short time.
After 1921, his work was influenced by Cézanne and Giotto. He also painted murals at the  Château de Vert-Cœur and in the Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris, decorated the Mexican embassy in Paris, and exhibited in New York. Because of the collapse of the international art market in the 1930s, he lost his sponsors and became depressed. In 1941 during World War II, he returned to his home country, Mexico, where he painted murals at the Club de Banqueros and at the of the Catholic Cathedral in Monterrey. He died after suffering from pneumonia. A museum of contemporary art in Mexico is named after him.
*         *         *

Paintings by Angel Zárraga
Votive Offering, St. Sebastion

The Gift



The Bather

Still Life

Portrait of Miss Davis

Portrait of Ramon Novarro

Autorretrato con Modelo

Portrait of a Rugby Player


Retrato de Mujer con Libreta

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Interesting and Unusual Facts

All facts are true. If not, they would not be facts.

The name Jessica was created by William Shakespeare for his play The Merchant of Venice.

Cleopatra lived closer in time to the invention of the iPhone than she did to the building of the Great Pyramid.

The country of Russia has a larger surface area than the planet Pluto.

Hippopotamus  milk is pink in color.

Dead people can get goose-bumps.

A full head of human hair is strong enough to support 12 tons.

The heart of a blue whale is so big, a human can swim through the arteries.

Carrots were originally purple in color.

The word “facetiously” contains all 5 vowels (a, e, i, o, u) and “y” in alphabetical order.

Armadillos nearly always give birth to identical quadruplets.

Not once in the Humpty Dumpty nursery rhyme does it mention that he is an egg.

The mythical unicorn is the national animal of Scotland.

The strawberry is not a berry but a banana is a berry.

North Korea and Finland are separated by only one country, Russia.

There are more fake flamingos in the world than real flamingos.

Cats sleep for 70% of their lives.

Humans share 50% of their DNA with bananas.

The national anthem of Greece has 158 verses.

Honey never spoils. You can safely eat 30,000-year-old honey- if you can find it.

For every human on Earth there are approximately 1.6 million ants. The total weight of all those ants would be approximately the same as the total weight of all the humans on Earth.

An octopus has three hearts.

The katzenklavier (“cat piano”) was a musical instrument made out of cats. Designed by 17th-century German scholar Athanasius Kircher, it consisted of a row of caged cats with different voice pitches, which could be “played” by a keyboardist driving nails into their tails.

There is a single mega-colony of ants that spans three continents. It covered much of Europe, the west coast of the U.S., and the west coast of Japan.

The largest snowflake ever recorded reportedly measured 15 inches across.

An epidemic of laughing that lasted almost a year broke out in Tanganyika (now called Tanzania) in 1962. I was not funny because several thousand people were affected in several villages. It  even forced a school to close. Other symptoms of the ailment included crying, fainting, rashes, and pain.

The Ancient Romans cleaned and whiten their teeth with urine. They also used urine to bleach and whiten clothes. Apparently it worked. (Caution: Do not try to do either.).

There are around 60,000 miles of blood vessels in the human body. If you took them all out and laid them end to end, they’d stretch around the world more than twice. But, seriously, don’t do that either.

The oldest condoms ever found date back to the 1640s. They were found in a cesspit at Dudley Castle in England and they were made from animal and fish intestines.

One in every 5,000 babies is born with a condition known as “imperforate anus.” This means the baby is born without an anus and has to have one created manually in the hospital.

You cannot hum while holding your nose.

Only Asian people have real black hair. Every other supposedly "black" hair color is actually extremely dark brown.

It rains diamonds on the planets Saturn and Jupiter.

There is 10 times more bacteria in the human body than it has actual body cells.

Every two minutes, people take more photographs than all of humanity did in the 19th century.

Peanuts are not nuts. They grow in the ground, so they are legumes.

Turtles can breathe out of their butts.

The longest time between two twins being born is 87 days.

The dot over an “i” is called a “tittle.”

There are more atoms in a glass of water than glasses of water in all the oceans on Earth.

At the time a person is born, that person is briefly the youngest person in the world.

The male giraffe will continuously head-butt the female in the bladder until she urinates. The male then tastes the pee and that helps it determine whether the female is ovulating.

Abalones (a type of snail) have 5 defecation holes.

Female kangaroos have three vaginas.

Everyone has a unique tongue print, just like fingerprints.

The world’s deepest postbox is in Susami Bay in Japan. It’s 10 metres underwater.

Casu marzu is a Sardinian cheese that contains live maggots. The maggots can jump up to five inches out of cheese while you’re eating it, so it is recommended  when eating it to shield it with your hand to stop the maggots from jumping into your eyes.

A family of people with blue skin lived in Kentucky for many generations. The Fulgates of Troublesome Creek are thought to have gained their blue skin through combination of inbreeding and a rare genetic condition known as methemoglobinemia.

Powerful earthquakes can permanently shorten the length of Earth’s day, by moving the spin of the Earth’s axis. The 2011 Japan earthquake knocked 1.8 microseconds off our days. The 2004 Sumatra quake cost us around 6.8 microseconds.

The first American film to show a toilet being flushed on screen was Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho.

Melting glaciers and icebergs make a distinctive fizzing noise known as “bergy seltzer”.

There is a glacier called “Blood Falls” in Antarctica that regularly pours out red liquid, making it look like the ice is bleeding. It is actually oxidized salty water.

In 2008 scientists discovered a new species of bacteria that lives in hairspray.

The top of the Eiffel Tower leans away from the sun, as the metal facing the sun heats up and expands. It can move as much as 7 inches.

There’s an opera house on the U.S.- Canada border where the stage is in one country and half the audience is in another.

The tiny parasite called Toxoplasma gondii and it can only breed sexually when in the guts of a cat. To this end, when it infects rats, it changes their behavior to make them less scared of cats.