Sunday, April 27, 2008

Nosting Potice

It's vacation time. We have packed up the kids and have headed off to sunny Florida. Everything is just great except for the bummer that we do not have internet access at this place (the wildlife is great though). I drove out some to get to a place that has internet access to let you know that we would have a posting holiday for a week from today. Enjoy your time away from my rants and I will try and stay clear of thinking about any new ones... Here is a picture from Day 1.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Painting Post

This rather large painting is finally over; took about a couple of months, I must say. 16 feet (no mistype) of unstretched painted canvas has its advantages and disadvantages. It is easy to carry around and transport but not the greatest at preserving the essential flatness that one would want to associate with an oil painting. Plus, one is not sure if the paint might peel or crease at points where it might have been dabbed on too thick (planned or otherwise).

Of course, photographing the thing is another story. For this one, my father and I carried the canvas gingerly from our basement and then hung it from the deck. After that, my wife helped hold down the canvas on one side with my father at the other trying to stretch it taut as a light wind on this fine spring day schemed successfully to sabotage the amateur photo shoot. Lucky for us the neighbors were not outside as we went about our antics in photographing this monster; must have seemed like a strange spectacle to them - two well meaning people trying to hold down a large piece of what looked like an arbitrarily painted cloth while a third filmed the proceedings.

'On a Beginning That Was Filled With Objective Reality', Sunil, Latex based house paint, kumkum, oil paint, dirt and gesso on unstretched canvas, 192" X 72"

Friday, April 25, 2008

A walk in a park

From a 1993 New York Times article:

Robert F. Wagner Jr., the gentle 49-year-old scion of a family that defined New York politics for three generations, died suddenly on Monday in a hotel room in Texas, where he was researching a book on urban America. Mr. Wagner, the son of a three-term New York City Mayor and the grandson of a United States Senator who gave his name to New Deal labor law, had been groomed for a political career even before he grew up in Gracie Mansion, the mayor's official residence, as the heir to a Democratic dynasty. But he was shy and uncomfortable with self-promotion and held only one elective office himself, as a City Councilman elected at large from Manhattan.

I happened to take a walk around the Robert F. Wagner park in Lower Manhattan to enjoy the first real summer day of this year (does not matter if it falls in spring) and found qualities in the park that reflect aspects of the city...

Gordon Gecko

Thursday, April 24, 2008

History as Mirror

The following is an outline of a war that was fought in 490 BC.

A great power sets its sights on a smaller, strange, and faraway land—an easy target, or so it would seem. Led first by a father and then, a decade later, by his son, this great power invades the lesser country twice. The father, so people say, is a bland and bureaucratic man, far more temperate than the son; and, indeed, it is the second invasion that will seize the imagination of history for many years to come. For although it is far larger and more aggressive than the first, it leads to unexpected disaster. Many commentators ascribe this disaster to the flawed decisions of the son: a man whose bluster competes with, or perhaps covers for, a certain hollowness at the center; a leader who is at once hobbled by personal demons (among which, it seems, is an Oedipal conflict) and given to grandiose gestures, who at best seems incapable of comprehending, and at worst is simply incurious about, how different or foreign his enemy really is. Although he himself is unscathed by the disaster he has wreaked, the fortunes and the reputation of the country he rules are seriously damaged. A great power has stumbled badly, against all expectations.

Cambyses Kills the Apis, Illustration

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Slavery: Modern day effects

Could there be a direct link that can be proven and backed by numbers about the correlation between African countries most ravaged by slavery and those that are the most underdeveloped today?

Even if there were one, can it be verifiably measured?

Assistant Professor of economics at Harvard University, Nathan Nunn believes that the African countries with the biggest slave exports are by and large the countries with the lowest incomes now.

That relationship, according to him, is not a coincidence - one actually helped to cause the other.

It's a sweeping, ambitious recasting of slavery's horrific commerce. It is also a work of risky estimates and serious statistical gymnastics. Somehow, Nunn had to account for some 17 million slaves by their ethnic origins - a task some historians say can't accurately be done, but that Nunn nonetheless undertook, mining slavery data compiled over decades by other scholars. He also had to prove that his findings of cause and effect weren't polluted by a long list of variables that seem likely to have affected Africa's economies in the last 600 years. Nunn, a 33-year-old assistant professor, didn't shy away from this either, devising ways to control for everything from climate to natural resources to geography to Islamic influence to a country's particular brand of colonialism.

For the moment, Nunn said, he can't say what the implications of his research might be. But his first, tentative steps in that direction are intriguing. Meshing his numbers with those of other scholars, Nunn has found that the countries he identified as having the most slaves taken are also the countries that have the most ethnic fractionalization today. It may well be that the ethnic fault lines driving Africa's worst conflicts have powerful roots in slavery, which required Africans to turn on one another in order to capture one another, severely weakening communal ties and preventing the spread of services like education, health facilities, and access to water across a large population

The Boston Globe explains the otherwise hard to read mathematical paper with a great degree of clarity. For those numerically and statistically inclined, here is a pdf link to the 32 page paper.

SignandSight puts it right when it made the following comment on this effort:

For one, it seems to support arguments long held in some development camps that the best use of foreign aid dollars lies not in conventional relief efforts - the food drops and water wells and antimalarial nets - but in long-term investments to rebuild economic and political institutions.

Image from the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University.
Description (from source above): Two slaves against a backdrop of sugar fields. Woman, on right, is seated under a tree, with basket filled with fruits and vegetables; she wears bead bracelets, armlets, earrings, and a large bead necklace. The man, wearing a loin cloth, holds a spade in one hand and a cutlass or knife in the other, with a bunch of sugar cane under his arm. Letters A-D, very briefly identify the images in this scene. As translated: A, Negro; B, Negress; C, Sugar Cane; D, A "pagaal," or basket for carrying produce

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Recent weaves

A sample of swirling thoughts in the minds of little Adams and Eves - a Poem

The Father,
he showed us a few tricks
every once in a while.
He lifted our frocks
he played with our shorts
helping us with the little mittens, amidst
gentle whispers to stay warm.
Even helped tie our laces,
after it was over.

His fingers seemed to glide
and hustle. Darting, furtive.
God, it was confusing.

He said he loved us
and sometimes kissed us.
He often played pretend with us,
and, once in a while,
fucked us.

Yes, it did hurt
it hurt very much.
We thought it was part of liturgy.
A ritual. Part of our Sunday afternoons.

The sermons would also say;
learn to notice that silver lining (in every day things)…
The good Father would say that too – lovingly
and often.
We managed to find our bright spots here too.

The immediate pain was only fleeting, white hot,
infinite, yet, contained in place (not time).
After that, you get used to it.
Kind of like being whipped,
after the initial tear in your skin,
the subsequent lashes
are just consolation.
A perverse kind of consolation,
that the familiar is back (the numbing, a helper).
And don’t we all huddle to the familiar?
Like the flocks towards that good Shepard.

From here:
One out of five alleged victims of clerical abuse have been girls or women, according to a 2004 study commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and conducted by researchers at the John Jay School of Criminal Justice. But that disparity “may have less to do with the actual incidence of abuse than with the reluctance of women to come forward,” says Angela Bonavoglia, a Ms. contributor and author of the 2005 book
Good Catholic Girls: How Women Are Leading the Fight to Change the Church. Bonavoglia believes the Church maintains a lingering blame-the-victim mentality toward girls and women. She has written that girls—particularly older ones—may be viewed with the biblical notion that they’re sexual temptresses—“little Eves”—responsible for enticing older men and consenting to “normal” relations. It’s much easier, then, for the Church’s male hierarchy to condemn the abuse of boys, since that’s seen as “homosexual behavior,” for which the Church offers blanket condemnation.

Sunil, 'Underwater', Sumi ink and charcoal on inkjet printed Strathmore paper, 9" X 12"

Monday, April 21, 2008

More money - Happy/Sad: Three views over time

Below are three views on whether more money equals more happiness. It is interesting to note that the views have been downgraded from no correlation between the two to lots of.
I am not too sure if the latest finding (released this month) that bolsters the correlation between the two is an unconscious or conscious bias introduced by the institute that put out the paper: An institute that is famous for churning out fresh MBAs who typically start at over $100K a year - Wharton.

View I from about 30 years ago: Economic growth did not necessarily lead to more satisfaction:

People in poor countries, not surprisingly, did become happier once they could afford basic necessities. But beyond that, further gains simply seemed to reset the bar. To put it in today’s terms, owning an iPod doesn’t make you happier, because you then want an iPod Touch. Relative income — how much you make compared with others around you — mattered far more than absolute income, Mr. Easterlin wrote.

View II: From a couple of years back which states that more money may not equate to more happiness.

Once a country has filled its larders there is no point in that nation becoming richer. The hippies, the Greens, the road protesters, the down-shifters, the slow-food movement – all are having their quiet revenge. Surveys show that the industrialized nations have not become happier over time. Random samples of UK citizens today report the same degree of psychological wellbeing and satisfaction with their lives as did their (poorer) parents and grandparents. In the US, happiness has fallen over time. White American females are markedly less happy than were their mothers.

View III: Prevailing view (published last week in the Times quoting a paper published at Wharton): More money does indeed make one more happier.

The “Easterlin Paradox” suggests that there is no link between the level of economic development of a society and average levels of happiness. We establish a clear positive link between GDP and average levels of subjective well-being across countries with no evidence of a satiation point beyond which wealthier countries have no further increases in subjective well-being. Moreover, we show that this relationship is consistent with the relationship between income and happiness within countries, suggesting a minimal role for relative income comparisons as drivers of happiness.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


T.J. Clark on Nicolas Poussin and Gustave Courbet at the Met...

Painting is a craft. It works up its grandest, largest-scale effects from a set of familiar coloured substances. Usually, looking at the way these substances go to make a world within the rectangle, one is aware of the special motion of a hand putting them on: a hand and a forearm, or occasionally the whole arm swinging from the shoulder. Poussin, whose hand in later life trembled from the effects of syphilis, devised a way of painting through the trembling – but also taking advantage of the slightly broader patchwork it dictated – that seems to me ‘handling’ in the most moving form we have. But all painters are handlers, even those, like Ingres, who want to show us the manual activity covering its tracks.

Painting is material. Materialism, for it, is not one view of the nature of the world among others, but the view – the felt reality – it cannot help but inhabit. Courbet used to enjoy upsetting the serious neo-Catholic disciples of Ingres by sticking his stubby hand in their faces and saying: ‘La peinture, c’est ça!’ But there is no need to be an atheist or a positivist for it to be one’s life’s work to place a viewer in the here and now. Poussin was neither, but his world is as earthly and creaturely as Goya’s or Masaccio’s. One thing that seems to follow naturally from painting’s material nature is that it sees its task as always turning on the human body – the body conjured up immediately and substantially. But the human animal is not painting’s whole subject (here is what marks it off from sculpture, to say nothing of dance). For painting is also convinced, in the way of no other art but architecture, of the reality of space. And it thinks that painting is uniquely equipped to give us this space, to contain and articulate it – to show its specific shape and pressure. The world in painting is one of bodies, but bodies in surroundings.

Posting either of their paintings would have been rather hackneyed - in my view...

Saturday, April 19, 2008


I do not know much about gods; but I think that the river
Is a strong brown god—sullen, untamed and intractable,
Patient to some degree, at first recognised as a frontier;
Useful, untrustworthy, as a conveyor of commerce;
Then only a problem confronting the builder of bridges.
The problem once solved, the brown god is almost forgotten
By the dwellers in cities—ever, however, implacable.
Keeping his seasons and rages, destroyer, reminder
Of what men choose to forget. Unhonoured, unpropitiated
By worshippers of the machine, but waiting, watching and waiting.
His rhythm was present in the nursery bedroom,
In the rank ailanthus of the April dooryard,
In the smell of grapes on the autumn table,
And the evening circle in the winter gaslight.

- From The Dry Salvages (No. 3 of 'Four Quartets') by T.S. Eliot

Friday, April 18, 2008

Painting journal

The painting goes on – albeit very slow - in the basement. It is especially difficult if one is working with a 16 foot long canvas. Being a long canvas, I had originally taped this to the walls of the basement in order to flatten the painting surface. Divine intervention or not, one night, the canvas suddenly decided to obey laws of gravity and crumple in a heap on the ground just as the planned work was about halfway there. Cleaning up the after effects of the ‘oil spill’ was a task in and of itself. Happy to report that I have managed to bring it back from a ‘difficult to witness’, canvas on floor with unplanned oil ooze to a more controlled scene of devastation on the canvas. The two photos below are details of the paint while the last (third, below) is of the complete canvas.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Reckless disregard

It is very difficult to rationalize our collective decision to put someone to death for crimes against society. Currently the penalty cannot be applied in cases of person-on-person violence other than murder or reckless disregard for life. The Supreme Court heard arguments on Mr. Patrick Kennedy’s case yesterday and the seems to be hopelessly divided. It is a difficult case if one goes into the details.

(From the case details here).

Patrick Kennedy was convicted in 2003 for the aggravated rape on March 2, 1998 of his then eight-year-old stepdaughter, then sentenced under a 1995 Louisiana law that allows the death penalty for the rape of a child under the age of 12.

The victim said that she woke up, watched television, and ate breakfast, which was prepared by the defendant, whom she called “Daddy”. The victim, who was eight when raped and nearly fourteen years old at the time of trial, took the stand during the fifth day of testimony. After some brief questions about her age, the State asked “Do you remember what happened to you in 1998,” to which the victim answered “yes.” When asked to tell what happened, the victim stated “I woke up one morning and Daddy was on top of me...”

Isn’t this reckless disregard for life? The votes are to be cast tomorrow that will test the constitutionality of the death penalty for the crime of raping a child. The Scotus blog covers it in detail and I am sure will follow this to its logical or illogical end…

Monday, April 14, 2008

Liberta Obscura

"Thus they who of late were extolled as our greatest deliverers, and had the people wholly at their devotion, by so discharging their trust as we see, did not only weaken and unfit themselves to be dispensers of what liberty they pretended, but unfitted also the people, now grown worse and more disordinate, to receive or to digest any liberty at all. For stories teach us, that liberty sought out of season, in a corrupt and degenerate age, brought Rome itself to a farther slavery: for liberty hath a sharp and double edge, fit only to be handled by just and virtuous men; to bad and dissolute, it becomes a mischief unwieldy in their own hands: neither is it completely given, but by them who have the happy skill to know what is grievance and unjust to a people, and how to remove it wisely; what good laws are wanting, and how to frame them substantially, that good men may enjoy the freedom which they merit, and the bad the curb which they need."

– John Milton, The History of England, From the First Traditional Beginning, Continued to the Norman Conquest:—collected Out of the Ancientest and Best Authors Thereof, (1670). From Harpers.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Yemeni memo

This was to talk a bit about articles in obscure newspapers from countries other than ours. Now, one might ask, what is the point of reading articles in newspapers from other countries when one does not have the time to keep up with the latest Lindsay Lohan narrative here. Well, the thing is that newspapers with stilted reporting help in the development of stilted perceptions in their readers minds. These perceptions collate to create biases toward social and cultural situations. Biases reinforced over large groups of people manifest in the development and strengthening of stereotypes and mores of behavior directly influencing social actions and contracts…

A friend alerted me to a couple of articles in the Yemeni Times (no, I do not read the Yemeni times on a daily basis, in fact it was the first time I had been to this site, but the articles I looked at showed aspects of cultural reporting different from our own and blurb on the site indicates that this was Yemen’s most widely read newspaper).
In one article, the reporter takes a cozy,' let me reason this out to you over tea' kind of attitude and coolly develops an argument that centers around why beating up women might actually be good for the overall society and then goes on to talk about advantages inherent in violence against women. What really got to me was the campy attitude with which this person pulls off the narrative.

If a man and woman are husband and wife, the Qur’an provides solutions, firstly reaffirming any logical and acceptable reasons for such punishment. These solutions are in gradual phases and not just for women, but for men also.

For men, it begins with abandoning the marital bed, by opting to sleep elsewhere in the house. After this, they may discuss the matter with any respected person for the husband’s or the wife’s family, who could be in a position to advise the wife. If this also does not work, then the husband yields to beating the wife slightly. They do this because of a misunderstanding in the Quran, as the word says Darban, which is commonly understood today as beating. However, in Classic Arabic it means to set examples or to announce and proclaim. The more accurate meaning of this last one is that the husband finally has to set forth, to make a clear statement or proclamation, and if these measures fail, then divorce is preferable.

Fathers are responsible for their daughters’ behavior, but human rights organizations deny this too. Brothers also should take action regarding their sisters’ behavior, especially if their parents are too old or dead. If a daughter or sister makes a mistake – especially a moral one – that negatively affects the entire family and its reputation, what’s the solution by such organizations?

However, things are not as dire as enunciated. The same newspaper also reports that an 8 year old girl has finally resorted to end her marriage by going to court and filing for divorce from her 30 year old husband. No, I did not get the age of the girl wrong.

“My father beat me and told me that I must marry this man, and if I did not, I would be raped and no law and no sheikh in this country would help me. I refused but I couldn’t stop the marriage,” Nojoud Nasser told the Yemen Times. “I asked and begged my mother, father, and aunt to help me to get divorced. They answered, ‘We can do nothing. If you want you can go to court by yourself.’ So this is what I have done,” she said.

Shatha Ali Nasser, lawyer in the Supreme Court confirmed that item number 15 in Yemeni civil law reads that “no girl or boy can get married before the age of 15." However, this item was amended in 1998 so parents could make a contract of marriage between their children even if they are under the age of 15

Every once in a while, it does help to see what is talked about in newspapers around us.

Sunil, 'Abuse', Computer Art

Friday, April 11, 2008

On gas prices...

There is an abandoned gas station that I see almost daily on my way back home. It was just the other day I decided to take a quick stop from the helpless careening to take pictures of what life must have been once (once when gas was $1.43 a gallon). The wistful nature of that remark might make one think that I was harkening back by many years when such prices must have been the norm. The dilapidated nature of this run down station might have bolstered thoughts thereof. It is indeed sad when one realizes that just in 2002 the prices were barely over a dollar a gallon. I had a funny feeling that the people in the cars that were rushing to their homes down route 9 did not seem to care or felt too helpless to even ponder.

In related news, the Energy Department yesterday announced that we need to brace ourselves for average gas prices to hit $3.60 in June. Another piece of news today informed us that according to a securities filing, Exxon Mobil Corp. Chairman CEO Rex Tillerson received a $16.7 million compensation package for 2007. Exxon Mobil is the largest U.S. Company with a market value of $479 billion as of yesterday's share prices.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Mullah to a tortured Updike Underhill in Royall Tyler’s 1797 novel “The Algerine Captive" (referenced in the New Yorker).

"A wise man adheres not to his religion, because it was that of his ancestors. Born in New England, my friend, you are a Christian purified by Calvin, born in the Campania of Rome, you would had been a Papist. Nursed by the Hindoos, you would have entered the pagoda with reverence, and worshipped the soul of your ancestor in a duck. Educated on the bank of the Wolga, the Delai Lama might have been your god. In China, you would have worshipped Tien, and perfumed Confucius, as you bowed in adoration . . . of your ancestors."

The Master of Apollo and Daphne (c. 1500), ‘Christ on the cross adored by Saints Monica, Augustine, Mary Magdalen, Jerome and Bridget of Sweden, Oil on panel, 30” X 36”

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Appropriation in art: Redux

In my quest to find answers to appropriation in the arts, here is a quiz: Is the image below by the Austin based artist Baxter Orr a twisted parody, an example of creative appropriation or just blatant plagiarism of the original artwork by Shepard Fairey (on the right)? Full article here. You decide.

Baxter was ordered by the court to stop making this class of art (a class that involves deriving from existing artwork made by the famous graffiti artist Fairey). Appropriation is a funny thing – the legalese in the court order that orders Baxter to cease and desist states that ‘as you have neither asked for nor received permission to use the work as a basis for the artwork, I believe you have willfully infringed our rights – blah, blah…”.

I cringe when I hear that people cannot ‘use other works as a basis’ (at least as idea founts with an aim to creating works of their own). Of course, ‘as a basis’ should not mean an outright copy with minor cosmetic modifications, but should accomodate for developing ‘appropriate derivatives’ that merits enough meaning to stand on its own – now defining that will take time and effort and will need to be assigned to that austere circle of artists and lawyers working out common ground together (something like the GNU GPL), but using blanket threats of ‘cannot even use the work as a basis’, will not do good for either of the parties involved…

Left: Baxter's 'Dope'; Right: Shepard's 'Hope' (Image ripped from here)Disclaimer: I read about this first on Fecalface

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The Anasazi

A detailed article on the Anasazi in today's Science Times reminded me of the photographs of Stephen Durbin (a physicist turned photographer and my colleague on the blog Art and Perception). His writings on the Anasazi first bought news of this civilization to my knowledge and I remember them every time I hear phrases like 'forgotten peoples' or 'lost civilization', I am reminded of them.

Stephen also sells the evocative photographs he takes and I must add - modestly priced at that (wow, never knew I could write sales pitch – no, that was not one - just an honest endorsement).

The photograph below was one that Swapna and I purchased from Stephen earlier this year.

Some 700 years ago, as part of a vast migration, a people called the Anasazi, driven by God knows what, wandered from the north to form settlements like these, stamping the land with their own unique style.

Why, in the late 13th century, did thousands of Anasazi abandon Kayenta, Mesa Verde and the other magnificent settlements of the Colorado Plateau and move south into Arizona and New Mexico? Scientists once thought the answer lay in impersonal factors like the onset of a great drought or a little ice age. But as evidence accumulates, those explanations have come to seem too pat — and slavishly deterministic. Like people today, the Anasazi (or Ancient Puebloans, as they are increasingly called) were presumably complex beings with the ability to make decisions, good and bad, about how to react to a changing environment. They were not pawns but players in the game.

Looking beyond climate change, some archaeologists are studying the effects of warfare and the increasing complexity of Anasazi society. They are looking deeper into ancient artifacts and finding hints of an ideological struggle, clues to what was going through the Anasazi mind.

A black and white photograph of an Anasazi settlement - photograph by Stephen Durbin. A copy graces the walls of our home.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Two links on the use of data in art

Data is an essential component of our lives. We use it in myriad ways in social, economic and political analysis but is rarely seen as an input to creating art. Here are two instances where data is used in newer (and imaginative) ways to represent our contemporary situation (globally in the first case and locally in the second).

The website worldmapper features a collection of world maps, where territories are re-sized on each map according to the subject of interest. The categories (among others) range from income distribution, health indices and destruction ratios across the world. It is interesting to see how a picture can sum things up neatly.

In 7 out of the 12 regions more than half of the population live in households where the people live on below PPP (power parity) US$10 a day. In Central Africa 95% of households have workers earning this little; in Western Europe and Japan less than 1% of the population does.

Data again forms an essential aspect of Chris Jordan's art. He uses it to model our consumer oriented outlook and shock our sensibilities on the subject of consumption (not the drinking kind, but the kind that leads to profligacy and waste).

This series looks at contemporary American culture through the austere lens of statistics. Each image portrays a specific quantity of something: fifteen million sheets of office paper (five minutes of paper use); 106,000 aluminum cans (thirty seconds of can consumption) and so on. My hope is that images representing these quantities might have a different effect than the raw numbers alone, such as we find daily in articles and books.

Territory size shows the proportion of all people living on US$10 purchasing power parity or less a day worldwide, that live there (image ripped from the worldmapper site).

Plastic Cups, 2008, 60"x90", Depicts one million plastic cups, the number used on airline flights in the US every six hours. This is the detail of a very much larger image. (Image ripped from the artist's site)

Sunday, April 06, 2008

This urban myth does not seem to hold water

The 8X8 theory (to be healthy, drink at least 8 glasses of water per day) is hogwash. That is the verdict reached in an editorial that reviewed some of the fallacies and facts behind this popular advice doled out by docs and non-docs as a first step to keeping healthy. Article here at the Journal of the American Society for Nephrology.

It is widely known that humans cannot survive for more than a few days without ingesting water in excess of solutes. The dangers of severe hypertonicity and volume depletion are not up for debate. It is also obvious that individuals in hot, dry climates have increased need for water, as do people who engage in strenuous physical exertion. There are certainly well-recognized disease states, such as nephrolithiasis, for which increased fluid intake is therapeutic, but do average, healthy individuals living in a temperate climate need to drink extra fluid—even when not thirsty—to maintain health? The classic recommendation is known as “8 X 8”: Eight glasses of 8 oz of liquid per day—not including caffeinated and alcoholic beverages. Where did this recommendation come from?

Saturday, April 05, 2008

The trillion dollar war

This analysis, first published in 2005 is still relevant (as outlandish it might have sounded then). A trillion is a big number.


Friday, April 04, 2008

The audacity to mope

There has been a distinct dearth in the creation of any artwork from my side. I do not want to blame it on lack of time or devotion to family – although both of those factors do weigh in all the time (and gladly so). The fact remains that I am a little bored with painting faces (which occupied me for almost one and a half years) and am not too happy with splashing paint in abstract patterns (indulged myself this way for most of this year)... Guess one can call it moping around in a different sort of way. I am still exploring - not too sure where this will lead me - but am trying a variety of styles that aim to merge the ‘abstractional’ elements and representational forms. We have had a 15 X 6 foot canvas in the basement, primed, gessoed and ready for the paint – of course, it remains in its ever taut pristine whiteness – a silent spectator to dust mites and the diurnal rays of light that stream in from a couple of small windows on the basement walls. I have been doing a lot of studies and sketches on how best I go about the large canvas and here are three of them... Some of them are ink and graphite on paper whilst others were generated on a computer screen. Of course, not too sure if you noticed it in the tortured markings below, but an Anselm Kiefer gremlin bit me recently - although I have been feeling the distinct buzz of this contagious bug around my head for about two years now.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Cultural Markers

From an article I chanced on here:

The Virginia Department of Education reported that 255 elementary students were suspended last year for offensive sexual touching, or "improper physical contact against a student." In Maryland, 166 elementary school children were suspended last year for sexual harassment, including three preschoolers, 16 kindergartners and 22 first-graders, according to the State Department of Education.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Life and life just before death - a photo essay

This link, sent to me by an immediate family member is a fascinating photo essay of faces... and the stories they carry and tell.

Insult to injury

I had lamented here earlier that we were not doing enough to regulate investment banks while opening up the 33 billion dollar a day money spigot for them with easy lending terms and little or no regulatory framework. Well, the Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. yesterday laid out a plan to overhaul the regulatory apparatus that oversees our nation’s financial system.

New York Times calls it 'dead on arrival'. I humbly agree.

Instead of greater regulation, the plan seems to buttress deregulation: One of the changes that Wall Street wants had wanted for years was for regulators to shift from being the rules police to looser “principles” based interpretations people - always a recipe for disaster - and it seems that this latest move by the Secretary seems to do just that. More details here.

The best reaction that I had read to the plan came from a statement issued by the Consumer Federation of America. The last sentence is telling and damning.

Rolling out this plan in the middle of the current crisis is like telling Hurricane Katrina victims stranded on their rooftops in New Orleans, ‘Don’t worry, if you can hold for a few years, we’ve got a really great plan to restructure the federal emergency response system’"

This plan had its genesis in Secretary Paulson’s conviction that overregulation and inefficient regulation were hurting the global competitiveness of U.S. markets. In fact, experience has repeatedly shown that regulatory failure, not overregulation, is the greatest threat to the health of our markets."

Placido Costanzi (1702 - 1759), ‘Justice and Temperance triumphant over Vice’, oil on canvas, 24” X 29” (Photo from a Christie’s auction book)