MichaelCD - The Blog.

The thoughts of Michael Cadwallader. Coffee loving, history book reading, Cheshire man.

Friday, June 30, 2006


I have added a few new links.

Firstly, how could I not link to a blog entitled The Mess That Greenspan Made?

Secondly, the excellent Mangan's Miscellany has also been added.

Finally, Steve Edwards' blog entitled The Raving Wingnut, has also been added. Mainly because Steve is a fellow aficionado of Rome: Total War.

Saturday, June 24, 2006


I talked previously about my favourite books. Now, I wish to discuss paintings. Firstly I need a small disclaimer. I don't pretend to be an expert in art. My sister has just finished a degree in design, I last went to an art class in high school, its fairly obvious which one of us has received the artistic talent in my family. Nonetheless, I am in full agreement with Henry James, when he said:
It is art that makes life, makes interest, makes importance . . . and I know of no substitute whatever for the force and beauty of its process.
So, what do I value in art? Well, the point of art, and its advantage over life, is its power to fire the imagination. Consequently within the imagination, a picture is created, that is far more inspiring than real life. Also, its my belief that In order to be beautiful, it is not enough for a work of art to offer us delightful colours and lines; it must also have a meaning it must speak to us, tell us something. So although I have a fascination with technical skill and perspective. And I certainly believe that the technique of the vanishing point leads to incredibly multi-layered paintings, offering the viewer a different viewing experience everytime. However, I think that the over reliance on mathematics and perspective, misses the point of art.

I see western art's golden age as the 16th century - 19th century. This was the post renaissance era. During this era, the fusion was completed between medieval art
(which is criminally underrated), and classicism. The result, was a magical golden era. And, it's not surprising that all of my favourite paintings fall within this era.

This age sadly ended in the twentieth century. Especially post-WW1, modernism has polluted, denigrated and defiled hundreds of years of tradition. It's not that the fact
that modernism is, well, modern, that I hate. It's the fact that its vapid; It's the fact
that its intellectuallyy bankrupt; it's the fact that it constantly ask 'what is art, what is art, what is art', ad nauseum. It also attempts to shock. But, modernism doesn't shock me, I grew up with trash TV, and the internet came into fashion when I was in my teens. Things are broadcast on terrestrial TV now, that 50 years ago would have disgusted everyone. The fact is that the 'bourgeoisie' morals that Duchamp moaned about are gone. There is no-one left to shock anymore. That's why in modern Britain, art is so unimportant, modernism; Damien Hirst; The Turner Prize; Charles Saachi; have all combined to render art boring.

Of all genres of modernism, by far the worst is 'socially orientated art'. The art critic Donald Kuspit, rightly savages it:
(T)hey, (socially orientated artists) have replaced: high culture with mass appeal, autonomy with homogeneity, mystery with transparency, skill with chance creativity, dialectic with dialogue, and refinement of the unconscious” with spectacle.
One of the greatest critics of 20th century art is Fred Ross, chairman of the ARC. His speech is the best criticism of modernism that I have ever read:
Since World War I the contemporary visual arts as represented in Museum exhibitions, University Art Departments, and journalistic art criticism became little more than juvenile, repetitive exercises at proving to the former adult world that they could do whatever they damn well wanted ... sadly devolving ever downwards into a distorted, contrived and contorted notion of freedom of expression. Freedom of expression? Ironically, this so-called "freedom" as embodied in Modernism, rather than a form of "expression" in truth became a form of "suppression" and "oppression." Modernism as we know it, ultimately became the most oppressive and restrictive system of thought in all of art history.

Every reasonable shred of order and any standards with which it was possible to identify, understand and to create great paintings and sculpture, was degraded ... detested ... desecrated and eviscerated. The backbone of the painters' craft, namely drawing, was thrown into the trash along with modeling, perspective, illusion, recognizable objects or elements from the real world, and with it the ability to capture, exhibit, and poetically express subjects and themes about mankind and the human condition and about man's trials on this speck of stardust called Earth
Beautiful, poetic words there, from Fred Ross. But that's enough about modernism, now for my favourite paintings of all time......

Piero della Francesca - The Flagellation of Christ.

Bearing in mind my exaltation of perspective, within the introduction. I will start my list of paintings with the master of perspective, Piero Della Francesca. Francesca's interest in the subject was so high, that he even wrote a treatise on the subject. His theories were perfectly encapsulated in The Flagellation. The mathematical unity of the composition, and the large difference in distance between the three men in the front, and the Flagellation in the back, is incredibly realistic.

But this picture is also far more than a tour de force of perspective. Whilst the
flagellation is taking place in the background, the three men in the foreground stand detached. The question is, why? Perhaps the most interesting theory, is that the three men are contempories of Francesca. Certainly, the bearded man is painted in such detail, that one can only conclude that Francesca knew him personally. There is obviously an analogy between the suffering of Christ, and the situation that these men find themselves in. But obviously, without positive identification, it's impossible to know just what Francesca was thinking.

Jan van Eyck - The Arnolfini Portrait

My second choice is not original. For this is one of the most celebrated paintings of all time, but nontheless, I have to include it. From the very first time I viewed this picture I was both fascinated and enchanted. The Arnolfini Portrait by the alchemist Jan van Eyck, is deceptively complex. Every time you view it, another detail arises. There is also a huge amount of symbolism within the portrait. A list of such symbolism can be found in the Wikipedia article, here.

The most technically brilliant aspect of the painting, and also the most beautiful, is the masterful mirror reflection. Incredibly, van Eyck has managed to capture the lighting through the window, and reflected it into a convex mirror, with perfection. The mirror's centrality is deliberate, it offers us, the viewer, a different persepctive on the picture. It also acts as an advertisment for van Eyck's ability to capture a real scene, by showing a true reflection, of what he has captured, in the mirror itself.

Diego Velazquez - Las Meninas

And now my favourite painting of all time. The masterpiece titled Las Meninas, by Diego Velazquez.

Is there an another painting that poses so many questions? We see the Infanta Dona Margarita and her retinue. We can see the court dwarves on the right. And we can see Velazquez himself on the left. By placing himself in the painting, Velazquez has posed us with many questions about what he was painting. Perhaps he is using a mirror, and he's painting the scene we see before us. But what is the significance of the figures in the background? We can see the Infanta's parents, King Philip 4th and his wife Mariana, in either a mirror, or a painting. Most critics think that they are reflected in the mirror, and are posing for Velazquez, from the same vantage point as the viewer of the picture. Perhaps the Infanta's retinue are attempting to cajole her into joining her parents within the portrait?

As I mentioned before, there are so many meanings within the painting. But it also magnificently well painted. And, a print of this painting hangs on my wall. Every time I see it, it fills me with joy so completely that I always think of Robert Motherwell's' words:
Art is much less important than life, but what a poor life without it.

JMW Turner - The Battle of Trafalgar.

I will finish with JMW Turner's The Battle of Trafalgar. This was Turner's only Royal commission. Of course, there are very few art critics who would rate this as Turner's best work, but it is my favourite by some distance. Why? Well, obviously, there is the subject of the painting, the greatest battle under sail. And, as I've mentioned probably too many times, the age of sail is the period in history which enchants me most. Also, unsurprisngly, Nelson is one of my all time heroes; and my trip to the Victory as a young boy, is one of my most vivid memories.

I have, however, included this painting, because it is also stunningly beautiful. HMS Victory never looked so powerful, so grand and so stoic. In this painting Victory, for me, represents Nelson, and even perhaps, good ol'Britannia herself.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Smallpox and Spaniards rehabilitated?

This is a fascinating theory. However, as it rehabilitates the much maligned 'conquistadors', I can't see this theory being given much examination. Modern historians love revising orthodox thought, but not when 'nasty white imperialists' are involved.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Spanish "fight"

This article raised a chuckle:
European Leaders have voiced consensus on the need to better protect the continent’s frontiers and have voiced support for the Spanish government in its fight against illegal immigration.

The leaders of the 25 countries are meeting in Brussels and have also underlined the need to fight organised crime, and to integrate the less fortunate into society.

The European Exterior Frontiers Agency is preparing a special package of help for Madrid.
Its 'fight' thus far, has consisted of an abject surrender. In 2005 the Spanish government implemented its fifth amnesty in the last twenty years. After the amnesty, the Spanish government promised to 'clamp- down on illegal immigration'. In reality, what hashappenedd is an even larger influx, especially from Africa.
The Spanish government recently acknowledged that 7,500 illegals arrived in the Canary Islands during the first half of 2006, compared to 4,751 in all of 2005. The Spanish police documented about 12,000 attempts by Moroccan migrants to enter the Spanish town of Melilla. Illegal border crossing has been matched with a skyrocketing number of cases of fraud from individuals trying to qualify for amnesty, overwhelming immigration officials, who have been unable to cope with processing, screening, and adjudicating the flood of amnesty applications.
So, in short, this policy has been a foreseeable disaster. And the EU, should not give a Euro of taxpayers money to the socialist government who's amnesty has created these problems.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Pervere Equality

Commenting on this, Laban Tall nails the inequality in British justice, under new "anti-gay" laws:
The BBC have the story as main news item, playing the 'homophobia' angle for all it's worth (approx £0.41p), full of righteous indignation. Looks like some victims are worth more than others. Would that all murderers got 28 years minimum.

"It is understood to be the first time that a judge has been able to use an anti-gay motive as an aggravating feature to help decide the sentence." We already have higher sentences for 'racist attacks', now a larger tariff for 'homophobes' - not really the correct word, Mr Dobrowski's killers didn't seem afraid of him. Soon there will be higher sentences for 'sexist attacks', and we shall have reached the nirvana where all are valued equally, regardless of race, gender or sexuality - except white men.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Who dares wins

Last month, I had £20 in my pocket and went into the bookies. Weighing up the odds for the World Cup, I decided to have a punt on Argentina. Now I could have gambled all my money there and then, but instead I thought 'why not put a fiver on the Argies and keep the rest'.

It looks like I made the wrong decision.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Economic Warnings (Continued)

Last month, I commented on the economic wobble that we were about to hit. The wobble has been rumbling on and on with peaks and troughs in the stock market, usually dependent on what Ben Bernanke has been saying. The market has been deflating regulary over the last month, today it fell sharply again, before rallying towards the end of the trading day.

Over this period I was wondering whether Mervyn King would react, yesterday I got my answer. And despite the morning newspaper headlines mentioning "King's warning", it seems that King's plan consists of doing....well, nothing at all.

The Bank of England will "monitor carefully" households' rising inflation expectations, Mervyn King said yesterday as official figures showed a sharp rise in the price of both houses and factory goods.

But the Bank's governor said pay pressures were "muted" in the face of soaring oil prices, which would dampen growth of consumer incomes and spending.
As I said in my previous post, high energy prices are here to stay. That was born out again by today's inflation report.

Energy bills helped to push UK inflation up to 2.2% in May, from 2% the month before, official figures have shown.

The move means that the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) rate of inflation has now risen above the government's 2% target.

The headline rate of RPI inflation, which includes mortgage interest payments, rose from 2.6% to 3%.

So, despite manufacturing goods reaching an eight month high level, and the housing market gaining pace again, the BofE's only response is to "monitor carefully" the situation. Unlike Bernanke and despite Gordon Brown's pledge to be "resolute in our anti-inflation discipline", it can be inferred that King's plans to brave things out. So why has King taken this approach?

The problem with energy driven inflation is that is not only causes inflation to rise, it also causes growth to stop. The result is the dreaded stagflation of the 1970s. King obviously wants to avoid this situation. His response is - unlike Bernanke - to keep interest rates reasonably low in an attempt to ride out the storm, and to keep the credit fuelled spending going. I can only presume that King, like many others, is waiting for the inflationary pressure to dissipate.

Today, the International Energy Agency will issue its monthly report. Within it, will be the latest figures on worldwide oil inventories. If the inventories have not been rising then energy costs are going to get higher and higher. Today also saw the start of the hurricane season. The warning turned out to be a damp squib, but what chance another Katrina in the next 3 months? It will only take one hurricane in the gulf region, to cause another short term spike in energy prices. Would it not be more prudent to deflate the housing boom and keep consumer led inflation down now?

A lot depends on that energy report, but if things go badly then King's "bumpy road" could turn out to be a muddy track, with the wheels firmly stuck.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Chris Parry on The New Rome....

Would an article like this have been published, even a few years ago?
ONE of Britain’s most senior military strategists has warned that western civilisation faces a threat on a par with the barbarian invasions that destroyed the Roman empire.

In an apocalyptic vision of security dangers, Rear Admiral Chris Parry said future migrations would be comparable to the Goths and Vandals while north African "barbary" pirates could be attacking yachts and beaches in the Mediterranean within 10 years.

Europe, including Britain, could be undermined by large immigrant groups with little allegiance to their host countries — a "reverse colonisation" as Parry described it. These groups would stay connected to their homelands by the internet and cheap flights. The idea of assimilation was becoming redundant, he said.

The warnings by Parry of what could threaten Britain over the next 30 years were delivered to senior officers and industry experts at a conference last week. Parry, head of the development, concepts and doctrine centre at the Ministry of Defence, is charged with identifying the greatest challenges that will frame national security policy in the future.

If a security breakdown occurred, he said, it was likely to be brought on by environmental destruction and a population boom, coupled with technology and radical Islam. The result for Britain and Europe, Parry warned, could be "like the 5th century Roman empire facing the Goths and the Vandals".

Parry pointed to the mass migration which disaster in the Third World could unleash. "The diaspora issue is one of my biggest current concerns," he said. "Globalisation makes assimilation seem redundant and old-fashioned . . . [the process] acts as a sort of reverse colonisation, where groups of people are self-contained, going back and forth between their countries, exploiting sophisticated networks and using instant communication on phones and the internet."

The competition for resources, Parry argues, may lead to a return to "industrial warfare" as countries with large and growing male populations mobilise armies, even including cavalry, while acquiring high-technology weaponry from the West.

The subsequent mass population movements, Parry argues, could lead to the "Rome scenario". The western Roman empire collapsed in the 4th and 5th centuries as groups such as Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Suevi, Huns and Vandals surged over its borders. The process culminated in the sack of Rome in 455 by Geiseric the Lame, king of the Alans and Vandals, in an invasion from north Africa. [...]

Parry estimated at the conference there were already more than 70 diasporas in Britain.

In the future, he believes, large groups that become established in Britain and Europe after mass migration may develop "communities of interest" with unstable or anti-western regions.

Any technological advantage developed to deal with the threats was unlikely to last. "I don’t think we can win in cyberspace — it’s like the weather — but we need to have a raincoat and an umbrella to deal with the effects," said Parry.

Some of the consequences would be beyond human imagination to tackle. The examples he gave, tongue-in-cheek, include: "No wind on land and sea; third of population dies instantly; perpetual darkness; sores; Euphrates dries up ‘to clear way for kings from the east’; earth’s core opens."

Auster on Leftist Blog

Why are Larry Auster, and a very erudite commentariat, wasting their time analysing the ridiculous firedoglake?

Any blog which calls for unlimited Mexican immigration and, simultaneously wants wage increases for the low paid, is obviously full of intellectually challenged fools.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Amnesty loses its marbles

Amnesty International, set up to 'safeguard' human rights, has added the promotion of the right to kill, to its list of universal 'human rights'. Its 45 year old neutral stance on abortion is being junked, in its place they will campaign against governments who oppose abortion. Accoding to Amnesty:
Governments have responsibilities to ensure that everyone's sexual and reproductive rights are protected," AI says in its documents. "No one should be discriminated against when and if they attempt to exercise their sexual and reproductive rights, or ask that they be protected.
A wonderful piece of cultural marxist prose aside - the inference is obvious. According to Amnesty, abortion is a reproductive right. Proof, if it was ever needed, that 'human rights' is a defunct phrase. Abortion should not be 'promoted' or 'supported', it is a sad fact of life that sometimes it maybe needed as a last resort. It's certainly not a 'right'. In fact, every human being should have serious misgivings about abortion, and believe in the maxim 'the less the better'.

It seems, however, that being able to support limited abortion is not an option. Since legalisation in the UK, abortion has become another layer of birth control. Women are having multiple abortions in a calendar year. Healthy but 'imperfect' babies are being aborted. And, late abortions continue unabated. How can amnesty justify badgering governments into following this dangerous path?

The likely result of their change of policy will be an exodus from its church going members. The very same people who have made it the envy of every other human rights organisation. But surely, the most important thing that Amnesty will lose is its morality.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

When the Scots get cold........

40 degrees:

Californians shiver uncontrollably

People in Scotland sunbathe

35 degrees:

Italian cars won't start

People in Scotland drive with the windows down

20 degrees:

Floridians wear coats, hats and gloves

People in Scotland throw on a T shirt

15 degrees:

Californians begin to evacuate the state

People in Scotland go swimming

Zero degrees:

New York landlords finally turn up the heat

People in Scotland have the last barbecue before it gets cold

10 degrees below zero:

People in Miami cease to exist

People in Scotland lick flagpoles

20 degrees below zero:

Californians fly away to Mexico

People in Scotland throw on a light jacket

80 degrees below zero:

Polar bears begin to evacuate the Arctic

Scottish Boy Scouts postpone winter survival classes until it gets cold enough

100 degrees below zero:

Santa Claus abandons the North Pole

People in Scotland pull down their ear flaps

173 degrees below zero:

Ethyl alcohol freezes

People in Scotland get frustrated when they canae thaw their bottles of Buckie

297 degrees below zero:

Microbial life starts to disappear

Scottish cows complain of farmers with cold hands

460 degrees below zero:

ALL atomic motion stops

People in Scotland start saying, Chilly. You cauld an aw?

500 degrees below zero:

Hell freezes over

Scottish people support England in the World Cup

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Guy Goma

I see that BBC interview "star", Guy Goma, has spawned a website glorifying his appearance on TV.

Sadly, there is no mention of the fact that he is an illegal, and therefore a criminal.

Union Fool

I understand the raison d'etre of trade unions is to support your members. But the First Division Association, who deal mainly with civil servants, have got some cheek for saying this:
Last week, two civil servants were moved following an embarrassing appearance by home secretary, John Reid, before the home affairs select committee.

Asked about the failure to deport over 1,000 foreign criminals, Mr Reid told the panel of MPs that his department was dysfunctional and "not fit for purpose".

The minister gave evidence to the committee for which he was subsequently forced to apologise after he discovered that figures passed to him by Home Office staff were wrong.

Two senior civil servants deemed responsible were transferred from their posts by the department's permanent secretary, Sir David Normington, just after Mr Reid told MPs that he would not rule out getting rid of incompetent staff

In an interview with GMTV ahead of its Sunday programme, Mr Baume said that while some criticism of government staff was justified, the timing of many of the recent attacks on civil servants was "driven by politics, not performance".

Er..yes, not driven by peformance? Except of course, it is driven by peformance. This peformance, this peformance, this peformance and this peformance.

The suggestion that civil servants were not accountable was "absolute nonsense", he said.

"If a civil servant gets it wrong, their department takes action under fair processes in private, not in the public glare. This is no different to any other employer."

Really? The department is a chaotic mess, and yet you are decrying (only) two people being accountable for that mess. Last year I had to provide a breakdown of work that I did using our end of year figures. I have now found out that this was an evaluation of whether it would be of financial benefit for the company, to outsource my job. Such is life in the private sector. And yet, Mr Baume has the temerity to claim there is no difference between the civil service and the private sector!

The very fact that this department surivives intact, with no inquiry, no restructure, no task force (all standard Blair responses) shows how the Blair government viewthis scandal. The same way they view immigration. They are paying lip service to the current media storm, whilst being aware that when the media find another story, the ongoing abolition of British borders, can continue. What other conclusion is there to reach?