Thursday, June 25, 2009

Some thoughts on arguing the law

When you argue the law it helps to cite, read the cases, back assertions with references if there is no case law, and to read the relevant statutes. I had an argument with @justinmclachlan, who is, as far as I can tell, a truly terribly bad lawyer. First he cites nothing, then he doesn't read cases, then he doesn't read the legislative history, then he cites no references. I can just imagine what would happen to that as a legal brief.

Then, having committed all of these sins of argument, he goes off. Well I can do that too, and it doesn't even take law school to learn how to do that.

One of the real problems with the law right now, is that we, as a collective we, want to do many things which are simply unconscionable and stupid. The law can be twisted to allow it, but at that point it allows many other stupid things as well. People put on blinders to this, and happily chug along doing some stupid things, while pretending that the other stupid things can't happen. Except, they can, and do happen.

Let me take an example. We, as a collective we, want to ban "child pornography." However, the way the laws are worded, in that kind of sweeping, written by a bad prosecutor in the middle of the night kind of way, allows teenagers for being charged as sex offenders for "sexting." Everyone was shocked, except, well those who had read the law itself, which plainly does in fact allow it.

Let me take another example: Australia's proposed plan to censor the internet down to the level of what a 45 year old terrified mom thinks a 15 year old should be allowed to see. It is plainly stupid, and against any form of self-government as the term is understood. It is also legal in the sense that the laws as written provide for it. 

And another one: the Defense of Marriage Act. It is plainly against Article IV 1, which provides that states shall provide full faith and credit to each other's instruments. Except same sex marriage, that doesn't count. 

Or torture. There are enough examples there, but the one that is current is the decision not to prosecute. In a country where teenagers are prosecuted for sending semi-naked pictures to each other by cellphone camera, there is no logic of danger to society that has torture not prosecuted. Except the logic that their are interests that are above the law in some strange way, or that there is a parallel law based on some concepts that aren't ever actually ennumerated, subject to a vote as such, or written down any place. A rule of not even  people, but prejudices.

When we pass laws that are contrary to our most solemn promises to ourselves, and we have been doing that a great deal, it undermines the whole of the structure. Out there, in the fringes of thought, are people who would knock down the entire structure, because they do not understand it, or they understand that they are always on the outside of this special zone of law.

Dictatorship and the Web

On the same day that the US objects to Chinese filtering, Australia announces a draconian censorship of computer games, limiting all content to that deemed suitable by the government for 15 year olds.

This is just unacceptable, what is going on with people, have they simply lost their minds?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

@justinmclachlan is a total loser

I've learned not to have an argument over twitter I guess, because twitter seems to have a species of idiot male who think that they can shout you down 140 characters at a time. @justinmclachlan is the second I've run across. Cites nothing, gets everything wrong, and when he does just shifts to the next completely wrong argument. Some times an argument needs to be ground out. Total losers like justinmclachlan are convincing me that twitter, while fun, is also the province of people who are completely assured of their own rightness about everything, and yet, strangely, can never come up with a single fact on their side.

I think this must be indicative of something larger, but what it is doesn't seem clear. That there are people with a very high estimation of their own abilities that they can't produce evidence of, well, I'm in the art world, and that's sort of most of the drifting population of would be artists. But that these people seem to be running the world right now makes me wonder what is supposed to get fixed, when the people who are being given the biggest megaphones are the people without any sort of intellectual ability, and who are merely nasty bullies. How do they become important? 

I wish I were the sort of person who could draw some blah blah blah patriarchy or other facile explanation, but that sort of retreat from facing things left me somewhere down the road. 

There is a grace to understanding, and to research. To reading words and having them soak into your eyes. To feeling the currents of the text, as they become part of your blood. It seems we do not practice this anymore.

Instead, we live in a time of bullies, of a few who have some special permission. I do not know where they get it from, but I know that they are all the same, whether they are demanding sex, or some other form of personal worship that they feel, for reasons I do not understand, is due to them

In a land when someone with a thousand twitter followers is exempt from every shred of intellectual honesty, the way @justinmclachlan is, there's no room for art or ideas.

It was, if I recall, Nabokov, who longed to write, because there, art and beauty are normal. I need a taste of that right now, and it is there to which the bright light of thought and the many twists of creation, are the only visa needed to enter.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Yifu's Comet

yes, this is horribly simple, but I thought it would make a nice touch at sl6b.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Vidal Fashion one day gift special

Vidal Fashion is running a special, join the group, and request one free outfit. Today only. 


(This is me at the SL6B build wearing the black cocktail dress, with stockings from the dollarbie Charisma outfit. I can always use another cocktail dress.)

Friday, June 19, 2009

How have you twitted for a #publicoption today?

It is life or death, with Ayatollahs elected by nobody fighting to hold on to their power to impose arcane lifestyle rules on everyone, against a democratic tide in favor of what the people really want. The Ayatollahs have secret police that peers into everyone's lives, and is empowered to find out what you eat, who you have sex with, and to pry into every corner.

I'm talking about the Health Insurance industry in America. If you want to know why #iranelection is big, it is because people in Iran are no longer willing to die quietly, and live hopelessly. Compare the US with the UK here. In the UK, a stupid right wing tabloid tries to stir up anti-immigrant hatred with a stupid online poll. Not one, but two, twitter trending topics are to flood the poll. In the US, with the last sliver of real hope in health care, a public option, hanging in the balance, there is not a peep among the trending tweets. People are spending more time on why AT&T won't plug in everything of the iPhone, than on why they don't have a chance at decent health insurance. The House finally introduced a #publicoption bill. President Obama gave guarded approval. There is news out there on this. Why isn't there a flickr stream of people suffering because of US health care that is being spread?

So, what have you done to tweet for a #publicoption today?

Neo Nursery Rhymes

Barack's new bill

Barack's new Bill went up the Hill
To fetch a #Fail of health care.
Single payor went down,
It made him frown!
Public Option was blocked
By bastards.

Barack be nimble

Barack be nimble
Barack be quick.
Pick a position, 
and make it stick.

Barack said yes,
Barack said no,
Barack has the power,
to end this row.

Barack's Splat

Barack's budget splat,
could leave no fat.
The war had left no lean.
So betwixt them both you see,
they're licking health care clean.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Green #iranelection twitter icon of mousavi

This is the full size gif of Mousavi. The #iranelection fever is dying down, unless there are more developments, but the light has done its work.

Not a Freebie but... 'Indie Rose' is closing down soon :(

Indie Rose is closing down in a couple of days and until then Angelina Eizenberg is holding a sale. Everything is spectacularly reduced so if you've had your eye on anything go and get it now at a rock bottom price before it's gone forever.

One of my first choices for SL clothing and I will be very sad to see it go.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


In Tehran they are sleepless,
the acrid rank reek of leather and gas,
the cries of blood beaten.
The Secret Police are the corpuscles in the streets.
In Tehran, that small scrap of volition ripped
ripped from the ballot box,
like a child from a womb in the middle of atrocity.
In Tehran they are sleepless.
The world, it is rocking,
to 3:3 GMT.

And so are we.
That last scrap of illusion ripped from us,
like the candy that teethes the infant's pain,
we are facing reality, grim cold
once, now, and again.

In America we are sleepless,
but it is a different night,
the sun travels round so far
that midnight falls
as the sun takes Tehran into it's arms.

Here we have betrayed,
the lights of our losses,
forgotten the fury,
and fermented a brew,
as foul and fetid,
as any before.
We have tossed aside so called hope,
and voted for war.

In America we are sleepless,
watching each line,
and hoping that somehow,
in English it rhymes.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

That bleeding of time

The poet said, and so I've often read,
that the sky is just a sieve that bleeds the time.
In time my love in time and time,
all these cuts will heal, all these cuts will heal.

I heard the shouting on the streets, in jerks and starts,
by video half captured, half poured,
into a camera in the hand,
sing me an aria in sharp edges and scattered motion.

The powerful, half cunning, half hapless,
seek to cage the songbird, the canary
who twitters of hoped half-remembered freedom.
It was written in another book,
the book of fate,
that all these people will one day be free.

That day is not today,
but it will be, in time, in time.
In time the words will be as sweet as dates,
and the breath as cool as clean rain.

But now shouts are on the tongue,
and the maneuvers go behind the third eye blind.

Do not doubt, that chatter becomes a roar,
as droplets become a downpour,
and the crackle of single fingers
become a roar like thunder flashed
with lightning like an insight.

The storm will pass, in time in time,
and who knows what fruit it will bring,
from this patter of words like rain.

They will bleed from our fingers,
as long as other fingers bleed.

Ensign on Marriage. Speak Loudly and Carry a Big err... stick.

Ensign admits affair with married employee.

"The time-honored and unique institution of marriage between one man and one woman is a fundamental pillar of our society and its values." Representative Ensign of Nevada, on behalf of the Defense of Marriage Act. He missed three votes on it. Including the final one.

Ensign however, may have had reservations, he did not vote on the Definition of Marriage Amendment. Even though he said he supported it.

Perhaps it is his idea of political courage?

Twilight at the build

A Missive From My Generation

There are few moments when someone can claim, or does, speak for a generation. It is almost always by accident rather than design. What is, comes together in one person's fingers, and it is manifest only after the fact. The reason for the energy around the Iranian Election is that it brings myth and reality together, and fuses them into a simple imperative. In a way which the soap opera of Barack and the Village does not, and cannot, and will not. The Iranian Election speaks to, and for, our generation, because what is happening there, is not happening here.

We live in the dilemma of Graham Greene's Ministry of Fear, with a short sharp strangling of breath, against which we feebly struggle. We cannot fight injustice, so much as express our outrage at our sense of injustice. This is our myth: that enough exposure of injustice will lead, eventually to it's end. That the mass of human beings are inert because they are uninformed. All truth is viral: once seen, it must be witnessed to and participated in. 

This is also the reality: there truly are two arcs from the Iranian election, one that streaks in one direction, and another which descends down into a darker pit than any they know. It is not so with any of the other issue of the day, and certainly not the Soap Opera. The Soap Opera is not unimportant, because out of it comes the life we live. Bad bills, bad statements, bad actions. However, there is an unending wave of them, and the details are dull. All government is dull, and if you think government is dull, realize that I am one of the few people you will ever meet who has been paid to watch paint dry.

But the mastery of detail is a false protection from the truth that none of these individual battles divide the world into two, the way the Iranian election does. It is clear, at least to us, that these little battles are not skirmishes in some great battle between good and evil, but between naked evil, and veiled evil. Between purely insane, and self-satisfied self-loving stupor. Caught between the left and the right? No between the wrong and the wrong headed.

There are no riots on our streets, the truth is not denied by the powers in Washington DC, the way it is denied by the powers in Tehran. They admit that we are in hard times, they admit they do not share in those hard times, but dance at balls and float between happy appearances in bright clothes. They admit that we must accept our fate, consigned to sickness and starvation of hope. There is no fact which can be revealed which will break the power of the Ministry of Fear in America. That vast government agency, in which is employed, everyone hoping to sell their green green lawn to the next person. It is the agency that mandates sex crimes charges for sexting, assassinates doctors, lusts to ban so called violent video games and depictions of sex. It is more persuasive and pervasive than the secret police ever were in any dictatorship. When Frost wrote "I am the Grass," he was talking about war, but grass is even more chilling in peace. It destroys lives, marriages. We, the young, still remember, all too well, growing up in a penitentiary of grass.

So if you ask why we are not so eager on these small details, well, we are, individually. Individually attracted to this detail or that. To this or that shiny thing that we take back to the nests of our idenity and lay it as part of what makes us able to sit within it. But no small detail, save the one which is truly hidden, is enough. It's very nature as a small detail means that the fight for it is the fight of individuals who see that small detail. Why is it that the Administration has put a rider in the Supplemental, that is War, appropriation to block the release of detainee abuse photos? Why did the Bush administration block the flag draped coffins. We are not at war with Eurasia. We have never been at war with Eurasia. Because somewhere in these details is, they feign, they fear, the foresee, is the one detail that will cause people to revolt and recoil.

So Alexander, I write back that Iran's Election is missive for my generation. When the world stretches in two directions, between two roads, that end in two places, with two names, then there will be all of the activity on the priorities that you desire. Until then, when we are faced merely with scenic or expedient highways to hell, it will be a babel of voices, following perhaps this flag or that, like the souls in Dante's Limbo, and not the chorus you might prefer. We are without leaders, and while all truth is viral, we do not yet have a pandemic of it.

I am told the army is moving into Tehran, and the fears of an Incident seem confirmed. Tell me when there will be an Incident on the Mall, when what we have endured will finally be enough to take all in hand. It is not today, it was not yesterday, and it will not be tomorrow. But I think that day will come, and when it does, the world will shake not with GMT +3:3 but to the backdrop of marble and cherry trees.

Monday, June 15, 2009

What Errol Morris' Eye Missed Part V

Simon Worrall's book on one of the most accomplished literary forgers of the 20th century follows a most unusual character: someone who took it upon himself to destabilize the Mormon church by a consistent forging of documents designed to sting and color the history of that Church. One particular document is interesting: it is a forgery of a promissory note by a confidence man who had taken in the early Mormon followers of Smith. The forger had made a living creating documents that cast the Mormon church in a bad light, and then selling them back to a church eager to cover up any such blemishes.

(Mark) Hoffman could get Emily Dickinson's voice and handwriting right. He could create a letter from Daniel Boone that is so convincing you can hear the crack of gunfire as you read it. He could manipulate ink and paper with consummate artistry. He could fake history and manipulate people. But he could not simulate time: the slow drop-feed of the days, andweeks, and months, the shift of the seasons, and with it the subtle changes in humidity, temperature, and light that alter the chemical composition of a document. It was the flaw that would send him to jail for the rest of his life.
Simon Worrall The Poet and the Murder page 226

In this case, the way Worrall aged his ink created a microscopic pattern of "alligatoring" cracks, much as van Meegeren's rolled canvases had lines of parallel cracks, different from the passage of time. 

But it is the purpose of Hofmann that is the deeper thrust: 

Metcalfe believes that Hofmann's genius lay in his ability to deconstruct Mormon scripture and create fictional texts that fitted seamlessly into the historical record. Just as computer scientists take a piece of code and reverse engineer it to discover how it was constructed, Hofmann reverse-engineered Mormon scripture to get at the underlying structures. "He would create these fictitious documents that were sprinkled with enough historical verisimilitude that people concluded historicity from them," recalled Metcalfe. "And they, in turn, became pivotal documents that said how things are. Hofmann wanted to demythologize the founding parents. I think he was saying 'You've been told all these stories. But this is what really happened.' "

Metcalfe see Hofman as a ruthless nihilist whose ultimate goal was even more ambitious and diabolical that most people have assumed. "Steve Christensen was a rising star in the Mormon Church," he explained. "By murdering him Hofmann was disproving God's existence."
The reality of Mark Hoffman was that he was exacuting both forgery, and hoax. Many of his documents were meant to slip into the stream of documents. Many were clearly intended to be mimesis, particularly his Daniel Boone letters. On the edge lies his forgery of Emily Dickinson, which was meant to push in to the explicit what he thought was her agnosticism. But his forgeries of Mormon documents were clearly hoax: he wanted to change the view of the church itself. The Church of Later Day Saints, for it's part feared, if not believed, the story he was telling with his documents. The early history of the Church of Later Day Saints is replete with forgery, fraud, and acts of lesser morality. The Church of Later Day Saints is, itself, a hoax, in that it promulgates a history of the Americas which bears no relationship to the truth. One does not need a high powered microscope to see the discrepancies between archeology and the LDS scripture. This stands in contrast to the old testament, which for all of it's holes, flaws, changes, and amendings, clearly comes out of a particular historical tradition. It may not be history, but it is historical. The Hofmann forgeries are closer to history, as forgeries, than the LDS scriptures are. 

This is an important point: Hofmann's hoax is embroidered with close history, the LDS hoax is fabrication. Both are hoaxes. Both are intended to get people to see the past in a radically different way, and both are creations of a particular place and time, as well as a particular intellect. Hofmann's hoax was, in effect, a counter-hoax, an attempt to get people to disbelieve the lies of the Church of Later Day Saints, by telling even more lies, and, ultimately, committing homocide. In doing so he became at least as warped as anything he preached against, and passed from the realm of someone who had the ambition to tell the truth, to, as Worrall correctly points out, into manipulation and a purer malice than what he crusaded against. He was not deluded, but with a clear mind set out to alter the past, and erase the future.

The difference between forgery, I can't say mere, because after all, a forgery is capable of doing far more damage than most hoaxes are, is on display in Hofmann, and ironically, in the posts by Errol Morris, who accepts a hoax, in debunking a forgery.

*Tuty's* Jing* Skin *~* FREE FREE FREE *~*

One of my favourite shops in SL **TUTY'S** SKIN & SHAPE STORE have put out a Freebie Shelf at and it contains amongst other things a full set of *Jing* Female Oriental Skins (eleven in all.)

It's difficult enough to find decent oriental skins in SL - never mind FREE!

I always buy my hair and shapes here so I was particularly (and very pleasantly) surprised to find this

Go get :)


A window into the Arab moment

Other people are better informed than I am, and have more arabic, and knowledge of the Middle East. I am writing this, then, as a window, having gone looking for what could be found in Second Life. It would be unwise, I think, to draw any conclusions from what I write that are more general, because SL is a very narrow audience, and selected.

But a few words about Arabic speaking people in Second Life. Many come from societies that make it very difficult to get pornography, or to even meet other people of the opposite sex away from layers of supervision. So many come to Second Life for fast cybersex (guys) and many, both young men and women, come to Second Life just be be with other young people of mixed genders. Playing dice is a favorite pass time, though not for money. They use voice much more than Americans do. The times I have watched or participated, there has been a general happy go lucky air to them. The boys are very marriage directed, the girls flirt a great deal, basking in the attention.

They don't represent a cross section of their world, overwhelmingly they come from internet based jobs, or from relatively wealthy families. So what you find out about anything is very much a window into a particular pair of segments. One is all new, forward, future, and very interested in everything in the West. They also tend to be ummmm, sex scrounges. The other is very directed inward, arabic using, not English using, conservative in morals. A good way of thinking of it is that for the first group, being from America makes them very interested in you, and "wanna have fun?" is a prelude to cybersex, while for the second "wanna have fun?" means talk and play dice, but they are looking for a nice arab girl.

This being said, the Iranian election has not rippled through the consciousness of the second group. The topics of the day are the same as every day. Meeting people, laughing, playing dice, the weather, the food, their own dreams. Iran, is not in their world. One young man even laughed about it. 

I am drawing no conclusions, this is not news, in a day when events are moving very swiftly in Iran, and Americans recognize a revolutionary moment, a discontent of the young, a search for change, it should be remembered that not all of the Islamic world, which is different from the Arabic world, looks at these things in the same way. For them today is not a symbol of coming change, or much of anything, but another day to flirt and play dice. The Iranian Election is something else, somewhere else. If anything there is a sort of attitude that Iran is a rival, and that the failure of Iran's Democracy weakens a rival. The Shi'a Sunni split, the Arabic Persian split, reveal a fault that runs deep. "Maybe they cause less trouble." 

For the young internet crowd, many come from Egypt, and getting msn to cam is a bigger priority than talking about Iran. After that came the Egypt-Brazil football match. 

This is a moment for Iran, and for young Americans, in that I think we see our own discontent in that which is going on in Iran. But it is not this way for everyone everywhere.


Sunday, June 14, 2009

Freebie Alert

Still on the furnishings trail I visited Apocalips (that’s how they spell it) Japan; purveyors of lovely low prim oriental furnishings - low cost too so don't be stingy babies have a good look around while you’re there.

I found two very nice little Futon Beds, which I would have happily paid money for, selling for Zero Lindens.

Sleep tight.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Sex Business Is The Exploitation Business

For people who believe that, RL, merely regulating the sex industry is like pushing the Staples "Easy" button, a cautionary counter-example: 22 performers in California's sex film industry have contracted HIV since 2004.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Stereo 2

View of Build from the west

Stereo Me

I hope people will do similar ones of their avatars.

What Errol Morris' Eye Missed Part V

For those joining in the middle, this series is in response to Errol Morris' "Bamboozling Ourselves," which recounts his examination of two recent books on the forger Han van Meegeren. What is missing from the series is an artistic and historical eye, which I have, in some way tried to supply. The first part of this is that we look at these forgeries ahistorically, in that recent methods of forensics, such as carbon dating, radiology, and chemistry, have allowed us to greatly refine our knowledge, and thus create an identity of a painter that is more focused than before.

James W Von Brunn is a holocaust denier, and on June 11th, he entered the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC, and began shooting "indiscriminately." It is easy to condemn such obvious insanity, and it is easy to censure the obvious horrors of the Third Reich. It is so easy, that we do it when we should be censuring far closer evils that we commit ourselves. The genocides of others, in other places, are easier to attack, than our own failings.

van Meegeren's hoax is in the same category, in that it is easy to say that "those" people fooled themselves, and that the aesthetic which he practiced is dead. A closer examination of the aesthetics of his paintings shows that the easy explanation is not the simplest that is consistent with all of the facts.

The first layer of the aesthetic composition of van Meegeren's hoax is, importantly, that he becomes a painter, rather than a pastiche artist. His early forgery attempts clumsily insert elements, rather than maintaining a consistent "eye" framework. They have other defects as well, in that they contain decorative pieces which are anachronistic, and the use of blue which is only possible in Europe after 1704, with the creation of Prussian blue. Chinese vases meant for European export were white and blue in part, because blueness set them at fantastic contrast to the Europeans, who only had expensive Lapis Lazuli for blue. Early van Meegeren, then has the problem that his eye is industrialized: even if he sets himself a palette that is old, his extensive use of blue through out a composition marks it as incorrect. His choice of textiles is, likewise, industrialized. His drawing technique, based on modern ideas of drawing, is visible in the fruit arrangement.

van Meegeren aping Vermeer is not then, a painter. His technical defects, combined with the defects in production, such as the soft surface, blue usage, synthetic Ultramarine, cracking problems, and absence of the correct underlayer, are all addressed in his late hoax period. He finds out how to artificially harden the surface, he learns to crack it correctly, his palette contains natural Ultramarine, and it is used in the same concentrated manner of a painter of Vermeer's time.

The "valley of uncanny" explanation fails, because while to our ahistorical eye, the early forgeries are more like Vermeer's style than the late ones, they are not off in small details, but quite obviously wrong in ways that were obvious enough in their time and place. The later hoax Vermeers, by contrast, are nothing like Vermeer, or any painter of that period. The "valley of uncanny" explanation would require, instead, that they be a cartoon, facsimile. They are not. Instead they are meant to pass some level of examination of the materials, and argue from the materials that they must be genuine. What makes them a hoax, like the manuscript sold to West, and the Piltdown Man, is that they were intended to change the way people looked at history. 

van Meegeren, while discarding elements of aesthetics which marked his earlier work as post synthetic color and post-Victorian drawing technique, and van Meegeren was an excellent draughtsman, acquired, as the third part of this essay describes, the poster and mass elements of modern period works, exemplified by Art Deco. His obsession with spanish art is also in evidence. It is impossible to look at the hoax van Meegeren, without seeing a clear parallel to mannerist style in Spain, particularly that of El Greco. For example the trinity above has similar handling of genre clothing, faces, and color composition. But van Meegeren chooses darkness over light, in a manner which is both dutch and spanish.

As importantly, van Meegeren's hoax style, has virtuality: it organizes around a point of vision correctly, which is in focus, as all else is out of focus. His pastiches do not do this. This is, in essence the "Lopez Aesthetic" theory of van Meegeren, and a close examination of the paintings almost supports it, but not entirely.

Part of the problem is in one of the very details which Lopes uncovered in his exhaustive research trip through Europe: the materials sent to Berlin by van Meegeren, specifically to curry favor with the leaders of the Third Reich. They change the most logical interpretation of the hoax. That detail is the book of watercolors that van Meegeren sent to Berlin, and which was found among the items in the Nazi high command's possession. A forger would not have done this, since the objective would be to not call attention to it. More over, the style of the watercolors has betraying marks that van Meegeren was the artist, specifically, as Lopez points out, the use of heavy droping eyes.

The volume indicates that van Meegeren was not merely trying to sell forgeries, but was offering his services to the Third Reich to replace the original Vermeer, with this Vermeer. Just as van Meegeren had to create an aesthetic which fit with the context of his times, and he also had to purge his aesthetic of those aspects which betrayed too obvious a modern provenance, he went back to El Greco, commonly seen as a proto-modern in many of his works, such as the landscape of Toledo, for the precedent, and material, of a modern before modern times. 

What is even more startling is the faces in the late van Meegeren hoax style. They are clearly not European, but New World, or African, or some other combination of characteristics. This in paintinger purporting to be from a period when these faces were virtually unknown as such to Europeans. It might be argued by the most slender of threads that these are Moorish, or Turkish. But that was not part of Vermeer's subject world either.

What Errol Morris' Eyes Missed Part IV

The Place From Whence It Comes

There is an arms race between the forger and the detective. They both draw on the same set of resources. However, once an object is produced, it becomes a standing target, while the motion of technology and aesthetics moves on. The forger doesn't need to win forever, just for long enough to be long gone. van Meegeren almost made it out alive: he lived very well during the last decade of his life, in a time when millions of people were losing their lives. 

The forger then has two important tasks: he has to pass those tests that are common in his time, but then he has to insert his work so thoroughly, that it is not questioned. The best way to pass a test for authenticity, is to not have to take it. Since forgeries have different time spans, the care of construction is an act of provenance: who created a document, and for what purpose.

When we look at van Meegeren, it is with ahistorical eyes. We know what a "Vermeer" looks like, because our idea of "Vermeerness" is trained by a relentless weeding out of not Vermeers, and indeed of the entire corpus of art. Our eyes have become historically sensitive to balances of color, technique, choice of subject, and treatment. But the people of that time were not so attuned. In fact, the early 20th century was, in many respects, the golden age of art forgery, because there was an intersection: a demand for a past that was there, in living memory, but was, in fact, dying. As more and more people were being channeled into new pursuits, the very craftsmanship aesthetic which made art objects was dying. The rich wanted them, because that was becoming the definition of rich: to be able to live among hand crafted things in a mass produced age. To have old things in an age of explosion and production.

This market, combined with a general lack of a forensics of art, created a demand for art production, and drew too it a supply of artists who could not make a living on their own production. These artists were caught: they were neither subservient enough to subject to be illustrators, nor steeped in the new enough to be art innovators, nor were they alive at the right time to be the originals. The story of Aleco Dossena is instructive as to the relationship of art and forgery at that time.

Aleco Dossena was an artist who had truly mastered many ancient and renaissance styles. If you are looking for works which can fool even an historically accurate eye: his can still do it. Set one of his early renaissance style works next to an original, and often the original begins to look fake. He worked for $200 a piece, which is about 3000 dollars modern, so not a bad wage. But it was often not paid. The unscrupulous art dealers took his, not even copies, in that they were not copies, but originals in an old spirit, and sold them as antiquities and original old masters, for prices that ranged over $10,000.

Original creation, is worth nothing. Genius is worth nothing. Rarity, is priceless. One can only know what has become important in retrospect, even assuming one can separate the good from the bad. This is not to say you can't, but take all the good, and not all of that will hook to the future. Once the future arrives, the people who made it are dead, and the present is willing to pay a great deal to touch their own past. Thus the market for the forger.

Now Aleco, like many artists, aged his works in an old style, precisely because he wanted them to fit in with that old style. There are copies littered about Rome today which are weathered so that they fit in. The originals having been long since removed in doors to protect against the effects of acid rain. But he was involved in the production of art in a tradition, one that many others were. He just happened to be able to do what van Meegeren was not: make art in that style.

The reason for this comparison is to drive a final nail in the "Valley of Uncanny" theory of the van Meegeren hoax. The original closer visually paintings are not picked out because of small details, but because of things which were obvious to enough people at that time. They weren't looking at the painting first, because they knew they did not have a good idea what the painting should look like. Instead, they looked at things which do not show in computer pictures: the technical details of the forger.

The early "Vermeer style" van Meegerens, you see, make a mistake, as alluded to previously, with blue. After 1704, blue became cheap. It was not always in fashion, but Europeans could give a blue cast to paintings if they wanted with Prussian Blue, then Cobalt Blue, and finally, synthetic Ultramarine, the natural form of which is from Lapis Laluzi. Before 1704, blue is an expensive act. In our historicized eyes, the blue period that van Meegeren took Vermeer through, is obvious. Even if your palette has only period colors on it, the relative expenses of those colors is different. However even if one uses only Ultramarine, the synthetic kind is easily identifiable under microscopic inspection. van Meegeren was caught in exactly this way: lots of cheap synthetic Ultramarine was the give away.

van Meegeren learned, he started buying natural Ultramarine for his forgeries. Another thing which was obvious was that his paint was still soft, instead of the hard surface of old paintings. van Meegeren of the Vermeer period was caught by this too. Thus, found among his effects is a painting which is with a blue wash, and which did not have the hardened surface.

Vermeer was exacting about blue, because his world was. van Meegeren, steeped in blue, had to adjust his eyes. van Meegeren's late style paintings are closer to Vermeer in their palette and color balance: blue becomes the central act in Jesus' clothes. There is no blue cast to everything. van Meegeren, by having to buy expensive natural Ultramarine, which was, ironically, cut with cobalt blue which gives his paintings away to later inspection, became historicized in his choice of colors. Suddenly he and Vermeer had the same care in where to use blue.

So let us look again at the van Meegerens, only this time next to each other. From this vantage, the ahistorical blue tint, becomes obvious. The valley of uncanny theory makes the wrong comparison. To have a too close for comfort valley, one first to ask what is the standard. For the world of the 1920's and 1930's, cluttered with hundreds of fakes, misattributions, and gaps in output, style is only secondary. First one must establish provenance, and then judge among the those objects thought to be genuine.

The nature of the race between the forger and the detective is the subject of Paul Craddock's Scientific Investigation of Copies, Fakes and Forgeries, with an entire section devoted to van Meegeren. It outlines how his early forgeries were caught out because they did not have the right use of canvas, the right surface, the right pallete. His later works, while far from Vermeer in style, used meticulous methods to make sure that his paintings would meet even very cutting edge, for the time, tests, such as examination for cracks. 

This is again where a polluted pool of originals is the forgers friend. Many of the paintings attributed then to Vermeer, were, themselves, not by Vermeer. Many were forgeries, that is works made to be misattributed. With a polluted pool, it is harder to draw sharp lines and connections. One way that van Meegeren was helped was in the area of cracking. 

What van Meegeren did, as forgers had for centuries, was acquire lesser canvases and then strip them of their original painting, but not their original backing and sizing. That is the layers of prepainting put down on the canvas. Since X-Rays were then becoming used to look at the behind the painting parts of a painting, he was particularly careful to remove any lead white. Lead, of course, absorbs X-rays very well. Then van Meegeren would go to work on his painting, but he would then want to have the tell tale cracks of time. To do this, he rolled the canvas in several directions. The problem, if you think about it, is that this will make the new artificially hardened, paint crack with lines that would run along the tube of the canvas. Examination with a magnifying glass, or microscope, reveals these lines clearly. It also creates the blotches and rips. Now we know that almost all Vermeers are in good condition, without this damage. However, then, it was perfectly reasonable to expect damaged older paintings. 

Not long after van Meegeren's active career, radio carbon dating and more sophisticated use of X-rays became the forger's great enemy. More recent pigments had the wrong isotopes, particularly lead isotopes, and the ability to examine the brush work on the under layer of paintings began knocking out forgeries. The first is a matter of craft: the time when smelting occurs. The second, however, opened a window into originality itself, in that brush work is part of what the artist does that makes his or her production unique.

This provoked a great purge of art works: project were established to find the real Vermeer, Rembrandt, and other artists' catalogs. Provenance became more carefully checked, including applying these same methods to purported documentation. Fakes were sometimes caught, not because they were recent, but because their documents were. Radio carbon dating and microscopes, by beginning to cast out the misattributed, refined our sense of what the past looked like. It also underlined why many of the great artists were great: they were better than their contemporaries at many of the same things that caught the early van Meegeren, including better use of virtuality in the way they organized the space.

van Meegeren then, in his second period, became steeped in the technology of his age, in understanding how to fool that technology, and the people who used it. His late period paintings exhibit a technological aesthetic in reverse. One can even say that he was a modern painter, who, as part of his movement, adopted the old palette of painting, and an old sense of color balance. 

This awareness of technology is part of the aesthetic of the paintings. van Meegeren learns to avoid aesthetic choices that mark his paintings as post-synthetic colors, even if he is using old materials, he learns to use them in old ways.  However, the very techniques he uses to age the paintings, damages them. And even with his more historicized eyes, he is not painting Dutch paintings at all. The thing that links van Meegeren the forger, and van Meegeren the hoaxter, is another linking aesthetic.


Prussian blue ushered in an era of synthetic colors. The chemical revolution, which it was at the cusp of, would learn to use real chemical power, rather than elaborate trial and error, to seek new chemical combinations an manufacturing processes. Europe went from occasionally tripping over a good idea, to being the heart of producing good ideas. This is an underrated part of why Europe passed China in economic output. The invention of the steam engine would not produce advances as quickly as the advances that it was a part of. 

However, some time ago, someone contacted me. He was interested in Prussic Blue, and in cyanide stains. He queried me, having gotten my email address, about blue stains on walls, and the chemistry of Prussic acid. 

Prussic acid is cyanide, that is HCN, dissolved in water. It is a colorless week acid, which is, however, highly volatile. It does not take much for HCN to reconstitute itself and sublimate into the air. Most people will smell HCN as having a bitter almond odor. It is not, in itself, blue.

However, it is called cyanide, because of the history of it's discovery from Prussian blue. Prussian blue has a complex chemistry, it takes Fe(II), that is iron in an oxidation state of plus 2, and converts some in to Fe(III). It is a polymer, that is a large molecule composed of repeated structures. It is called a coordinate polymer, because it has metals connected by multiple ligand bridges. A ligand bridge is when a metal or metaloid bonds closely with an atom or group. A bridge is when the group can then form a bond with another metal, forming a "bridge." A coordinate polymer, then, is composed of bridges of a metal, metaloid, or metal based ion, ligand molecules, a bridge, and then another metal. In the case of Prussian blue, the pattern is Fe(II) - CNO - Fe(III). The Fe(II) is surrounded by six carbon atoms, which bind to Nitrogen. The Fe(III) are surounded by Nitrogen and Oxygen. In 1752, around the time that cobalt blue was being isolated, Prussian blue was found to be composed of Iron Oxide, and a new acid, called "blue acid" from it's source.  

What makes the molecule interesting is that there are many different polymer arrangements, and the way that prussic blue is produced means that there are many possible varations, even within a particular batch. The structure of prussian blue has been deduced carefully, and only in the 20th century has it begun to yield all of its secrets. Part of the reason is that while HCN is soluble and volatile, that is it dissolves readily in water, and escapes quickly into the air, if it forms a polymer with Iron, it is insoluble, and non-volatile. People can ingest Prussian blue, and it is even used as an antidote to some heavy metal poisionings. Cyanide, as everyone knows, is a lethal poison. This is because of redox again. Our bodies engage in a complex chain of steps to oxidize sugars and get energy. However CN binds more readily in two of these steps than Oxygen itself does, but releases no energy. The body continues to happily pass CN down the chain, and dies from being unable to run the cell machinery. It would be like having a wood fire that releases no heat.

HCN in acid is dangerous, it is volatile, it can engage in chemical reactions readily. As with nitroglycerine in dynamite, the solution to handling HCN, is to mix it with a porous, inert, material. In this form it can be handled. Zyclon B, since cyanide is "blue acid" was the means by which Cyanide was transported. Ordinary HCN, used, for example, for delousing, had warning odor chemicals, often themselves somewhat poisonous, mixed in. The Zyclon B for extermination, did not have these warning chemicals. 

It is this difference that formed the basis of an attempt at holocaust denial: namely, that the concentrations of cyanide were higher in areas where delousing occurred than in areas where extermination occurred. These attempts were partially debunked by Richard J. Green The difference is that in extermination areas, pure HCN was applied. The walls and bricks of the extermination areas did not have free Fe(II)O salt, the other key part of forming a "Prussian Blue" or iron blue. However, the warning compounds formed an additional chemical element, which helped catalyze the formation of iron blues, that is coordinate polymers of iron salt and cyanide.

This process, the oxidation of HCN with Chlorine to cyanate is the basis for commercial decyanization. Cyanide, by itself, is not blue, it is the combination of cyanide and iron in Fe(III) state that is. The differing component then was that delousing, with chlorinated warning odor, was more likely to produce the correct conditions for the polymerization. Once this process starts, it is autocatalytic, that is, it releases enough heat to continue the reaction. This releases heat to accelerate the Fe Cl reaction. Fe(III) Cl, a salt of Iron, can be an input to an "iron blue," just as the iron in blood was for the very first Prussian Blue.

Fe(II) does not readily react with Chlorine at lower temperatures, but does so at higher temperatures. It producs a red-brown Fe(III)Chloride. We can now go back to the origin of Prussian Blue: mixing of blood, with potash and other substances. What happened the first time was a cumbersome and accidental formation of a polymer from blood. What happened in the delousing chambers was the same thing, some of the chlorinated warning odor created Fe(III) to mix with the HCN. The source of the iron? Ambient: blood, bricks, objects. Remember people in the gas chambers had their effects removed, these were left outside. People in the delousing stations, were injured, surrounded by metal effects. It takes relatively little free iron to form Prussian blue staining. As is obvious from its history as a dye, Prussian blue is stable, insoluble, and takes only a small amount to impart a very powerful blue.

The chemistry of Prussian Blue, then, forms a not coincidental link to van Meegeren. It was the presence of bluing that helped identify his early fakes. It was the presence of bluing in the delousing stations that later holocaust deniers used to try and create another hoax. This is what the Nazipop duo "Prussian Blue" is referring to in their name: a holocaust denier hoax. I suppose if I do nothing else in Second Life, this is a small contribution: pointing out that Chlorinated warning chemicals form a catalyst to produce iron blues from free Fe(II), and to stabilize HCN, as they are used in the present. This should account for the higher concentrations of Cyanide still present in the delousing areas, and the blue staining. It also accounts for why there may be blue staining in some of the gas chambers: using some of the warning odor Zyclon B in a gas chamber. This could be tested for by looking for some of the predictable by products, some of which are stable, of these reactions. Since there were several warning odor chemicals used, these could be researched and tested to see which produce the iron blue staining.

van Meegeren, part of an industrialized society, was trying to remove the same blue stain which was the hallmark element of genocide. This is almost the last element in understanding what happened with van Meegeren. He did not fool "one person too many," but was, instead, attempting to reveal himself to Goering, and, in effect, become the official producer of a fake past.

Let's just rename them the MacArthur Idiot Grants

I know this is so 2006

These people aren't even in the top 10,000 of Second Life geniuses.

What is next, the Discovery Institute gets the Nobel Prize for Biology?

It is the crassest example of how stupid, inane, and self-destructive the present era is, in that this project produces ugly, sprawled dysfunctional spaces which resemble temporary buildings at fourth rate academic institutions. 

Cockroaches at least know enough to scurry away from danger. This time, does not even pass that test. I know that global warming will become a catastrophe because people in this time and place cannot even imagine a future that is not loaded with a petroleum aesthetic.

The petroleum aesthetic is, in fact, all over second life, in that the signal feature of the petroleum version of capitalism, is the vast attention paid to clutter. The aesthetics of the late petroleum age are based on the promiscuity of petroleum production: it produces an unlimited amount of clutter, with which people fill their lives.

This grant shows clearly why the present system is doomed: it is run by people who have a pathological desire to destroy the world, and promote that aesthetic in the present. 

Gordon and Koo produce ugly dysfunctional sprawl spaces. Since this is what the system rewards, I can tell you that you are all pretty much fucked. They, and the system they work for, are clearly pathologically committed to a self-destructive course, that even given a blank sheet of paper, cannot even imagine a better world.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Utherverse makes pitch for adult users

Utherverse has set up a place for adult users in SL to recruit people for their virtual reality. Utherverse is like a non-cartoon version of IMVU. Avatars are much better, but it is a very closed world.

Utherverse is what SL would look like if SL hired pro-designers, but kept the world closed. It's got more activity, and less life. Basically, for the noobs who drop in out of the sky looking for a hook up, it is a better place, because they link your profile more tightly with your rl, and the world is ready made. 

Umm. Well if you are into that sort of guy, you don't need an avatar to find one. A simple three liner on Craigslist works: 

"Hot 29 year old asian chick with round ass seeks sex partner for play and more. Looking forward to hearing from you!"

That will get about 300 emails in 4 hours. 

The reason SL works is because anyone with a few dollars and a dream can come play and try and make it. That trap, which it is, has not yet been duplicated.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

What Errol Morris' Eyes Missed Part IV

The psychology of forgery is different from the psychology of apocrypha. The forger wants to create something which fools some group of people in the present into believing that an object was created in a time or place differently from where it was created. The creator of apocrypha wants to change history itself. Many fakes are are intended to do not merely slip in with the rest of the flotsam and jetsam of the past, but to change the way that past is viewed. The word for creation of apocrypha of this kind is "hoax." And this is a word that is not prominent in Morris' essay on the subject, even thought that is what is implied by the thesis that the paintings that worked were too modern. van Meegeren perpetrated, not forgery, but a hoax.

One of the most famous hoaxes comes from palentology, the "
Piltdown Man" that had a primitive jaw and a large brain, very different from the skeletons coming to light at that time. It was also in England. The reason this is important is that Europeans wanted man to be smart early, and European early. What makes this an even closer parallel is that Dawson's collection of antiquities contains numerous fakes and hoaxes, many of them using the same techniques as the Piltdown Man. The combination of racism, wish fulfillment, and techniques which would not have passed tests even at the time, is much the same as the one which van Meegeren used. Just as with van Meegeren, Dawson fooled particular people, and chose his first circle of victims carefully, because many experts would not be fooled. The Piltdown man was suspected from the beginning, but remained believed in until 1953. almost 40 years later. van Meegeren's late Vermeers had defenders up until the 1960's, almost 30 years after he perpetrated his hoax.

The Prussians Are Coming

In late 1795, Benjamin West, then president of the Royal Academy of Arts obtained a manuscript from Thomas and Ann Jemima Provis which purported to be on the techniques of Titian and others. The work was, as it turned out, a hoax, and West recanted. One of the give aways in the manuscript is something that shows up in most exposures of hoaxes: an anachronism. In the case of the West hoax, the give away was "Prussian Blue."

Prussian Blue has an interesting history, it was an accident. Specifically, an accident in 1704, and hence, not something which Titian, probably born between 1488 and 1490, would have known about. 

The story runs this way. Beginning in the 1500's Europeans began to mine and acquire resources at a pace vastly faster than previously. They had been, to this point, behind in metallurgy and mining compared with most other major societies. However, mining changed the state of European understanding. In the medieval and early renaissance periods, the focus of the study of compounds was systematic, but that system was completely erroneous in virtually every aspect. 

The 16th and 17th saw a dramatic transformation with the introduction of the first aspects of scientific method: record keeping, notation, and measurement. Pendulum clocks, invented in 1656, as well as precision measurement of quantities, began to make the possibility of experiment a reality. 

But to begin closer to the story, mining's explosion in Europe caused an explosion of knowledge of metals. In the 1470's Funken is able to isolate copper from silver, at the same time Europe harnesses water and wind power for mining. In 1516, the great silver strike at Joachimstal is made. 40 years later, the mining had reached the point where water was pouring in, and the first lift pump in Europe was installed. To move the large quantities of ore out, wheeled carts were put on rails. These, the first railroads, were again at Joachimstal, in 1553. Some time in this period black powder is used for blasting, creating the first major improvement in breaking rock since the process of setting a fire to heat rock and then cracking it with steam was first used by the Romans. 

Long before steam, coal becomes important: for smelting. Laws were passed to prohibit cutting of trees for iron smelting, and against the export of coal. Engines are distant, the raw extraction of heat was what was important. Just as with computers today, one resource was so overwhelmingly important, that people would do anything to get at it, even if it meant cutting down every tree in Europe.

It is impossible not to look at this broad cutting of forest, orgy of mining and burning, and give it a name: Industrialization. Europeans needed metals that could withstand forces far greater than they had previously needed. Latches, bolts, nails, fire arms. Sailing long distances is an exercise in durability. One of the first codifiers of knowledge is known to history as Georgius Agricola, born in 1494 and died in 1555. His great work is De Re Metallica. He is credited as the founder of geology, but such precision of modern divisions is far too weak. Instead, his title, "The nature of minerals," is closer to the reality. Europe had discovered, or rediscovered, the study of the physical world. His early works described water and wind as forces. 

His biography is then, what you would expect. He worked from 1527 until his death in centers of mining, including Joachimsthal. The exploitation of the Western Hemisphere further expanded the demand for knowledge of material science. The challenge was to extract, refine, and use metals and their products. 

Taken together at a distance, we can see the truth of what he is writing about: an industrial revolution. Europe's first industrial revolution is not with the steam engine, but with mining, mechanical power, and material science. The driving forces were to create more food, and to mine more minerals from the ground. Europe, along with the rest of the Eurasian world, was awakening from the medieval period where migrations dominated the backdrop of geopolitical landscape. The paradox was that cataclysm was giving way to life. During the relatively warm medieval period, Eurasia is a vast "land ocean," across which flowed horse mounted armies, and trade on foot. With the coming of the "Little Ice Age" this cross land based movement was cutailed. The great barbarian migrations were long gone, but the horse mounted land empires flourished. The end of this land ocean marks the end of the physical force that kept the world within a medieval model of decentralization to withstand shocks that could come from any direction, at anytime. 

Another great area of advancement, was in the study of medicine. Just as Europeans were mining, and building objects of greater durability for warfare, so too was Europe rediscovering the city, and the human body. For art, for medicine, for warfare. The great work of the 17th century was William Harvey's circulatory theory, and the examination of life through the microscope starting with Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, who was a contemporary of Vermeer. Both were born in 1632, and lived in Delft. In the way of such things, they may have known each other.

Now why this digression through metallurgy and  blood? Because in 1704, a paint maker working in an alchemist's laboratory was searching for a better red pigment. In the way of that time, animate, and inanimate, chemicals were considered completely different. Now we know the difference is carbon, the chemistry of carbon is so complex that it, combined largely with Hydrogen, Oxygen, and Nitrogen forms the basis for life. However, at that time, mixtures of the two were regarded with importance.

The operating theory was that there was an animus, a human like spirit, that drove actions. The search was to find the animating forces, and then, it would be possible to make chemicals do what humans wanted. The dyer mixed blood and potash, and the result was a white powder, which when oxidized became Fe4[Fe(CN)6]3. Importantly, it was insoluble, richly blue, and changed the color of the world. Within a few years the pigment had spread, and was being used in paintings by Watteau. It was a European blue to rival the blue that China had, which was based on salts of Cobalt, which had been used in combination with tin underglaze for white since the 8th or 9th century at the latest, and perhaps before.

In the middle part of the century, the Chemical Revolution, begun by Etienne Francois Geoffroy's work on affinities, caught up to cobalt blue, and prussian blue. Cobalt blue was recognized as being the result of a previously undescribed metal. Georg Brandt began doing experiments in the 1720's and distinguished cobalt from bismuth in 1730. In 1742 he proved that cobalt, and not bismuth, was the source of the blue color in glass. Brandt marks the scond generation of the chemical revolution, and he relentlessly attacked alchemy. Knowledge, open, was beginning to push proprietary secrets out of the center. It would be 1802 before modern cobalt blue, which is Cobalt Aluminate, would be prepared.

Prussian blue has an even more complex place in chemistry. It's blue color comes from the shift of Iron from Fe (II) to Fe (III), and the variations in its color from the impurities, exact number of cyanic groups, and the size of the particles. What is going on in the molecule is more complex. In chemistry, reduction and oxidation are complementary processes, and they refer to the removal (oxidation) and addition (reduction) of electrons, or more exactly, in the shifting of the state of the electrons in a chemical, even if no electrons are moved in the chemical sense. This may sound circular, and it is, oxidation is change in state, even if no actual transfer of electrons can be shown. This strangeness is a topic for advanced chemistry, and shows up in superconductors and organic chemistry. 

The number of electrons less than neutral is the oxidation state. When one atom or molecule is being oxidized, another is being reduced, or free electrons are being produced. Redox reactions then, balance gained and lost electrons. Fe (II) is short two electrons, and Fe(III) is three electrons short. Negative oxidation states, such as that of sulphur are written as negative numbers. This can cause confusion, because electrons have negative charge, but a molecule or atom in a negative oxidation state, has a positive charge. 

What happens is that low spin Fe(II) is converted into high spin Fe(III) by oxidation. Generally oxidation rules are simple: various elements prefer to be in particular states, and when calculating the oxidation state of most molecules, simple rules apply with some exceptions. When the number isn't obvious it is in parentheses with a roman numeral. So oxidation, such as rust, is the stripping away of electrons from the base metal. That is why reduction in smelting is creating an electro-chemically neutral pure element. 

Prussian blue is one of those complex molecules, which oxidizes the iron, to produce a new state, in this case Fe(III), which is relatively stable.  The Fe(III) scatters blue light, and that is the blue color. The chemical reaction strips an electron away from Fe(II), and then surrounds the new high spin Fe(III) so that it does not easily gain that electron back. 

In short, Prussian Blue was not the secret to Titian and the Renaissance, but to Watteau and the just ended Baroque. The hoax perpetrated on West provides a measuring rod for the difference between forgery, and apocrypha. The forger wants the production of his or her work to float out with the stream of objects. To be just one more painting, driver's license, or passport. My friends used to erase the last digit on their driver's licenses, and substitute a lower one to get into clubs. 

The hoax, by contrast, wants not merely to add to history, but to change it. Now no forgery can help but to change perception of history, but this is, to the forger, incidental. The forger needs to fool crucial people, but the perpetrator of a hoax needs to fool the crucial people, the people who need to be fooled, because, like West, they want to believe. 

But history, our history, isn't done with Prussian Blue. So important is this blue color that the molecule that is associated with it was named for being blue. Or rather, cyan.

More exactly: Cyanide.

The Benjamin West "Venetian Secret" hoax tells us a great deal about the psychology of a hoax, and it's structure. The perpetrator picks a victim who wants to believe, and extracts money. The first target is picked not just because they will accept the hoax, but spread it, act on it, and mix the hoax with their own work. West was the target, because he was influential, capable, and wanted to believe. If he could execute paintings that would be accepted at "Titianesque" the hoax would be secure. West's work is famous, particularly his painting of the death of General Wolfe. His place as a minor but brilliant painter is secure, as an examination of his work shows

The problem, of course, is that instead of brilliance, Prussian Blue yields coolness. (An ironic note, the best picture of the painting in question on the web, is mislabelled.) 

The important psychological transformation is not merely to see a the object of the hoax as a member of the present, but to see them as the present sees the past. West was at the very moment when a young chemistry was ripping apart alchemy. The process by which Prussian blue was first made is classic alchemist: mix together potent chemicals, and seek a purer form of the human quality that is desired. A generation later, it is the stuff of mixing compounds in an acid bath. Rather than ox blood and preparations, it is a matter of treating compounds with each other.

Titian then is seen as an alchemist who is a proto-modern, at least as moderns of 1795 saw themselves. He has the secret knowledge that comes later, but also that there was a secret knowledge in the past which the new science had not yet captured. This much accords with the Errol Morris thesis that van Meegeren recast Vermeer as a modern Nazi. However, the light of the West case goes further. Once you know that blue in Europe before Prussian Blue is an expensive act, from lapis lazuli, then you know throwing blue around is a modern act, a modern trait. Now go back and look at van Meegeren's forgery again. It is a modern in the textiles, but also in the blue hue. Like West, use of blues is something which divides the world of European painting. For van Meegeren, it is an act which Vermeer would not have spattered about as the cast of the canvas. Go back to the comparisons: for Vermeer, blue is the gem of the composition, for van Meegeren, it is the bread and butter of his palette. It is also why the bold blue of an earlier forgery looks wrong: such a hue was not on Vermeer's palette to have survived the time to the present.

This opens an examination of the science of the forgery, and it's connection, through Prussian Blue, to a hoax, intimately connected with the Nazi past, that is alive and well in the present.

Do not trust wrapp seiling

Player is a spammer who abuses resources. Do not let them into groups, do not trust them.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Ah yes, the joys of people you shouldn't touch with a ten foot pole

There are good and bad people of all kinds on Second Life. This trio walked in to Platinum with advertisements to free lance in their profiles, and "looking to hire." I ejected, as anyone would. This is what I got back:

[22:00] Lillie Yifu: You know better than that.
[22:00] RedHot Quintessa: what i aint doin shit
[22:00] RedHot Quintessa: im reading info on ur contest
[22:01] RedHot Quintessa: who fuckin banned my girl
[22:01] RedHot Quintessa: ur a bitch u know that?
[22:01] RedHot Quintessa: i was there to find out how to wim a gierl for a week
[22:01] RedHot Quintessa: stupid cunt
[22:01] RedHot Quintessa: ids that how u treat ALll women weho come to that fuckin hole?
[22:01] RedHot Quintessa: FUCK U
[22:02] RedHot Quintessa: have a nice day ill save myself a thousand this way
[22:02] RedHot Quintessa: :)

-- Instant message logging enabled --
[22:00] Lillie Yifu: You know better than that.
[22:01] mandisssohottttt Constantine: better then what...i never said a word
[22:01] mandisssohottttt Constantine: wtf
[22:01] Lillie Yifu: walking in with frelancing tags
[22:01] Lillie Yifu: shame on you
[22:01] mandisssohottttt Constantine: sexy bitch is a freelance tag?
[22:01] Lillie Yifu: Your slave had "hire me" in her profile
[22:02] Lillie Yifu: you had "looking to hire escorts and dancers" for another club
[22:02] Lillie Yifu: you know better than that
[22:02] Lillie Yifu: your slaves also know bettter than to sear at someoen
[22:02] mandisssohottttt Constantine: we were just looking at the girls babe..but that fine ..
[22:02] Lillie Yifu: I don't believe you
[22:02] mandisssohottttt Constantine: i dont really care
[22:02] mandisssohottttt Constantine: whatever
[22:02] Lillie Yifu: kk
[22:04] mandisssohottttt Constantine: uve got a lot to learn about making people feel welcome to a club when they did nuthing ..all i do is tip there...check ur damn records u dumb ass
[22:05] Lillie Yifu: I've been an escort on sl longer than you have.
[22:05] Lillie Yifu: No club, anywhere,
[22:05] Lillie Yifu: allows peopel to come in and frelance
[22:05] Lillie Yifu: unless it is a camper farm
[22:05] Lillie Yifu: nnone
[22:05] Lillie Yifu: none
[22:06] mandisssohottttt Constantine: ur more then wlecome in my club..i dont eject people for tipping my dancers
[22:06] Lillie Yifu: If I walked in there trying to hire people away from your club, you'd eject me
[22:06] Lillie Yifu: if I called one of your employees "dumb cunt" and screamed fuck you! i hope you would eject me

[22:06] mandisssohottttt Constantine: ur right but since i didnt u could have given the benifit of the doubt
[22:07] Lillie Yifu: I read yourprofile
[22:07] Lillie Yifu: I read your slave's profile
[22:07] Lillie Yifu: they left zero doubt
[22:07] Lillie Yifu: zero
[22:07] mandisssohottttt Constantine: ur really a trip...

Club Vision

Monday, June 8, 2009

Track Lighting Working

Color chooser and picker is working. It messages the other objects in the link set, so that they can all respond appropriately.

Quick Addendum (big words to start the week)

PixelDolls at have a 175l Gift Voucher in their Midnight Mania Board. Don't miss out!


Sunday, June 7, 2009

An introduction and a thank you to Lillie

Hello I'm XingZ, firstly thanks to LillieY for giving me space on her blog today.

This is the first of what will become an irregular posting of any decent freebies/bargains I find on my travels around SL. There will be absolutely no tat here and most of it will be of an oriental bent ;)

At the moment I'm furnishing my new home in WuLin and I have been amazed by the quality of free furnishings you can find in SL.

To begin with a visit to Abaditiker will bring you to a ‘cupcake’ packed with the most amazing Japanese furnishings, dive in and amongst the things you can receive are: Meditation Pillows (yeah yeah everyone does those); A Japanese Painted Bridge (full size not a painting :)); Bamboo Love (a nice vase with, yes bamboo in it); Black Tea Table and Seating (think tea house); Blue Dragonfly Print Living Room Set; Red Cuddle Rug and more... also a Ten Minute Camp for a rather nice Buddha Picture.

Please have a good look around while you’re here.

Secondly I have The Zen Garden and Imperial City at

Here you will find Four Lucky Boards giving Asian Furnishings as follows: Outdoor Seating, a (very nice) Large Buddha and a Japanese Garden Lamp, more Outdoor Seating, a Japanese Drawer Unit, and some more Tea House Seating. There are also two Midnight Mania boards which each contain a Large Asian House and a 'Guess and Win' with various instant prizes, for example a Shinto Shrine, Buddha Heads, Large White Indoor Seating Unit.

You can Camp for Two Hours for a 'Three Storey Asian House' - which I did a couple of weeks ago, time well spent :) There are also various 50% off bargains scattered around at the moment - including houses, I picked up a Tea House I had had my eye on for a while for half its’ usual price – now to find somewhere to put it... .

Lastly, whilst you’re here, if you have a garden, don't miss the 'Field of Dreams' Free Flower Emitters lot's of flowers for very few prims and FREE.

Yeah!!! My initial came up on the lucky board and I won the 'Lion Bench 2 Seater' – I’ve been after that for ages!

Please look around this shop too it has some lovely items at very reasonable prices.

Now for some clothing:

At Legends of China for the princely sum of 10 lindens you can buy an Incredible Traditional Chinese Dress called 'Spring Lotus Tang Princess' it’s pink and very pretty and if you're a fan of Wuxia films this is the place for you, beautiful Chinese clothing at rather frightening prices, but always one or two on offer for pennies. Worth repeated visits.

Lastly today: =Feel China= has a 1linden more modern looking but equally beautiful Turquoise Dress which can be worn several ways from Ball Gown to Mini Skirt and a totally free Traditional Chinese Fan.

I’m pleased to have got all that off my chest, more when I find more.


Another "we are just waiting for the next vr post."

It is time to back up. From SL revolution.

One reason SL keels alive is that most new ventures want heavier restrictions on sexual content, which is one reason people are here, they can have their sex lives, or some simulation of them, here.

Friday, June 5, 2009

#robotpickuplines he: -,- o.- O.O *.- @|@ _V_ _o_ she: o.O (*) he: -.-

Also did #robotputdown. Since umm, I've got more experience with people wanting me to accept the connection.

Group Chat Bork accepted not assigned

Working on it Linden has his hands full again. Meaning it is in their system, but no one in particular has been assigned the problem yet.

I think that means keep voting.

Free book of poems

For people in Second Life: free book of my poems from 2007-2008.

Moon in the House of Resonance 3

1 and 2

Sometimes, I wake up. Sometimes, I just can't stay asleep any longer. This was one of those times. Once I am not asleep, which is not to say awake, the first thing that is forced upon the consciousness is the litany of possible reasons I can't sleep any more. The first ones are the ones that, if promptly corrected, would allow me to go back to sleep. Like, the blanket has uncovered my feet. Then there are the ones which, if I make a rapid foray into the world, might allow me to go back to sleep. Such as, going to use the toilet. Then, these exhausted, the awful thing happens, I try and go back to sleep, hoping that I was just not a sleep for long enough to realize that the thing I needed to do to get back to sleep is… get back to sleep.

And then, not being asleep, even if I try a few times to avoid it, I wake up. I am poundingly awake, my sinuses stuffed, by head crawling with small insects of pain. I am, not only not asleep, but not going back to sleep. At this point I begin mechanically heading to the bathroom. I walk down the hall, control over my life and my muscles growing with each step, until by the end I am making quiet footfalls in precise rhythm. When I get to the bathroom, the door is locked. I can see the rim of light from the door. There is some one there. I do not freeze, but quietly retreat to the room, put the rest of my clothes on, and return.

The door is still locked.

I knock. There is a startled banging. Someone did not want to be disturbed.

In an interval that was so brief that it was my turn to be startled, the door swung inward to the cramped space, though far from small for an upstairs bathroom. There, towering over me, is sharp features and pale skin carrying a slight flush, his curly blond locks in a state of slight, but noticeable, disarray. I notice the way his ears stand away from his head, and the way his shirt slightly clings to his body. It is hastily tucked into his jeans. He slouched, as many very tall people do. He looked more enormous than any other time, our very mismatched heights for the first time were, mismatched. I was standing a great deal closer to him than I had before, and I could feel the lazy warmth that he radiated.

I was, suddenly, very awake.

Now you the reader, may have guessed what was going on. However, by that time in my life I had never lived with a man. I did not know their habits, and I was very much puzzled by what I saw, or what he was thinking.

"Look, I uh…"

His eyes were fluttering slightly, as if recalling the English language from the back of his mind, dusty from some disuse.

"Just a minute."

I slide by him, our fronts brushing past each other, with the clothes dragging on each other. I was closing the door, but looking only at his face. His eyes were locked on mine, even as the door provided a horizon. They seemed to set behind the edge which seemed stationary, while his face was moving.

I read a book not long ago. You know the one I mean, that one. Yes, the one about effluvia. It says it is about sex, but really, what made people read it, is that it describes the pouring of bodily fluids in various circumstances with a loving detail that fascinates people who think about them in secret but are too embarrassed to talk about them in public. I won't go into the details of my sitting there, even though we all spend a larger fraction of our lives than we want to think about waiting for our bodies to expel waste.

At such moments everyone has their routine, of looking, reading, staring at the floor, contemplating their failings. It is when this routine is violated that the moment is memorable. Nothing says that there is a "we" like a divider between it. Space, time, emotion, or, in this case, a white door.

A white door that loomed large in my vision as I looked at it, whose angles seemed progressively more like a montage of Dali and Picasso. It towered over me, and the very purity and perfection of the woodwork and painting was oppressive. It's corners hung over me. I imagined for a moment it was a gallows. Now you know, I have never seen a real one in the sense of a working gallows. I've seen paintings of them, I've seen reconstructions of them. But hanging? No it is something that exists in stories, like the dead women in Raise the Red Lantern.

I know something was out side of the door, and I startled when I heard his soft upper end of baritone voice.

"Are you alright in there?"

"Ummm, yes." Many of the key moments in my life have centered around what goes on in bathrooms. There is something sacramental about how we cloak them in white, and it is one of the few places where we have actual right of privacy. My mother would barge in on me anywhere, and I mean anywhere, but in the bathroom, and then when I was on the toilet. When I first heard the expression "worshipping the porcelain god," I thought it meant something else. The idea of being that drunk didn't occur to me.

"I was beginning to get worried." The last syllable lilted upwards. There was a powerful nasality to his tone that came from being from a New York-esque upbringing. By which I mean Miami, where many people migrate to from Manhattan. My parents thought about doing this once, booked the trip, and arrived in the wake of a hurricane. That ended any Caribbean living dreams.

"No really." I just have a strong sense of vertigo. And I am wondering what is on the other side of that door. I had a unique sense of dread about it. I thought about this as I went through my particular ritual that involved pulling out reams of toilet paper and repeatedly wiping myself in a figure "8" pattern until I was beyond positive I was clean. I flushed, went to the mirror, and looked at my face.

It was not flush, but as pale as I had ever seen myself. For the first time, I also realized how round my features had become, how they filled the mirror, and despite my own misgivings, brought a light. It was at this moment that I also realized that I was smiling.

"I will be out in a minute." I waited for my ba's joke of a woman's minute is like a man's month. Or something of that kind.

"Take your time." It was without impatience. And then "You know there are 168 hours in a week."


"That's right, you told me that one."

"No, I said I was never late to class, merely 167 hours early for the next one."

"Yeah, that once a week lecture was brutal. You were always on time to everything else."

I began primping my hair and looking at the small blemishes on my skin. "That's because the first hour he just summarized the reading." I turned on cheek and checked the waning pimple. It was at that moment, when straining to see it, that I realized that my head had cleared and I felt… health. Or at least healthish.

"I never did the reading until the end."

"I remember you tripping over the table outside class once you were so busy reading."

He waited.

"I must have looked like a dork or something."

No, but this conversation is. Why is it that people fill the air with this? When there is…. everything. Everything to talk about.

"Can we wait until I am out? I want to pay attention to you."

A longish pause pause pause pausepause.

"If that is the case, you would be the first one. Ever. In the history of the world."

I shuffled out to the door, and as I was opening it went from clunking around Lillian, to graceful ballet Lillian. It was like turning on a switch of a make up mirror, the lights went on. I could feel my smile beaming inwards, and my eyes open.

"That's because I'm, not your parents."

There had been that long conversation already. We'd had several of those expository conversations. I was bored, to, tears. But not yet Bored. To. Tears. With the them. This was not a day to be repeating the kind of empty exchange. My chest felt. I could feel myself breath, not in my usual steady rhythm, but in something else. It was a waltz, a time in three, and it held me in it's resonance.

I opened the door. I saw a very surprised face. He almost rolled back and feel on to the hall table behind him. But managed to extend a hand in an ungainly fashion and grab the door frame. It was at his shoulder height, which was about at the level of the top of my head.