Wednesday, October 31, 2018


A mule is the offspring of a male donkey (jack) and a female horse (mare). Horses and donkeys are different species, with different numbers of chromosomes. Of the two F1 hybrids (first generation hybrids) between these two species, a mule is easier to obtain than a hinny, which is the offspring of a female donkey (jenny) and a male horse (stallion).
The size of a mule and work to which it is put depend largely on the breeding of the mule's female parent (dam). Mules can be lightweight, medium weight, or when produced from draft horse mares, of moderately heavy weight. Mules are reputed to be more patient, hardy and long-lived than horses, and are described as less obstinate and more intelligent than donkeys.
In the second half of the 20th century, widespread usage of mules declined in industrialized countries. The use of mules for farming and transportation of agricultural products largely gave way to modern tractors and trucks.

In the US, Amish farmers, who reject tractors and most other modern technology for religious reasons, commonly use teams of six or eight mules to pull plows, disk harrows, and other farm equipment, though they use horses for pulling buggies on the road.
During the Soviet war in Afghanistan, the United States used large numbers of mules to carry weapons and supplies over Afghanistan's rugged terrain to the mujahideen. Use of mules by U.S. forces has continued during the War in Afghanistan (2001–2014), and the United States Marine Corps has conducted an 11-day Animal Packers Course since the 1960s at its Mountain Warfare Training Center located in the Sierra Nevada near Bridgeport, California.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Absolute Rulers, from the Left and Right

The hope I expressed in yesterdays post on Jair Bolsonaro didn't come true...
A very sad result in every possible way. One bright light, albeit very small, is that Bolsonaro doesn't wear a Basque beret (how could he?), but with many like-minded rulers, he does express a liking for military berets. 
Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov
A young Muammar Gaddafi
Fidel Castro
Hugo Chavez
Saddam Hussain with bowling insignia
Omar al-Bashir
A (photo-shopped) big-eared Vladimir Putin in Royal Parachute Regt uniform

Monday, October 29, 2018

Jair Bolsonaro

At the time of writing this post, the election results for Brazil's president are not clear, but all seems top point to Jair Bolsonaro being the [overwhelming] victor. 
It is a mystery to me how the whole world seems focused on the antics of the US president, while at the same time a monster of much bigger proportions is being created further south. 
Bolsonaro is an ex-army captain (paratrooper) and a populist provocateur notorious for praising Brazil’s 1964-85 military regime and foreign autocrats including Peru’s Alberto Fujimori and Augusto Pinochet of Chile.
Among many worrying statements, Bolsonaro argued that men and women should not receive the same salaries; said that "I would be incapable of loving a gay son," and added that he would prefer any gay son of his "to die in an accident..."; stated that "there is no risk" of his family producing a homosexual child because his children had a "good education"; “I will not fight against it nor discriminate, but if I see two men kissing on the street, I'll beat them up.” And so on and so on
In a 2017 speech, Bolsonaro stated: "God above everything. There is no such thing as this secular state. The state is Christian and the minority will have to change, if they can."
To federal deputy Maria do Rosário at the Chamber of Deputies “I would never rape you, because you don't deserve it.” And so on, and so on...
I can only hope the news on my radio alarm clock will prove me and most commentators wrong when I wake up this morning... 


Mus is a blend of poker and chess, this card game that the Basques embraced and made their own is played with two to six players (whereas four is the usual number).
The card game is widely played in Spain and France, and to a lesser extent in Hispanic America. Most probably originated in the Basque Country, it is a vying game. The first reference about this game goes back to 1745, when Manuel Larramendi, philologist and Jesuit Basque, quoted it.
In Spain it is the most played card game, spawning several Mus clubs or "peñas" and becoming a staple game among college students. It is not uncommon to hear the Basque terms, such as "órdago" (from Basque "hor dago", "there it is" used by Spanish speakers, often without them being aware of the literal meanings of the terms and phrases.
The origin of the word Mus is uncertain. It could come from the Basque language, where "musu" means "kiss", the established signal of the better possible card combination (3 Kings and one Ace). Larramendi wrote about the word mus or "musu" meaning lips or face and suggests that the name of the game could have derived from the facial gestures used while playing.
Basque emigrants carried the game to other countries such as the USA and Australia, where it is played in Basque clubs. Nowadays there is an international Mus tournament, in addition to many national and regional competitions.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Stan Moeller

Born in 1952, Stan Moeller was raised in rural, northern Indiana within sight of the Michigan border, in the small town of Scott, population 50.  
Stan Moeller - The Beret
Stan excelled in art, drawing and modelling clay from an early age and he went on to major in art at Western Michigan University.  Studying art at the university level in the 1970s — a time when abstract expressionism was the fashion, it was difficult to find traditional art instruction, but Stan took as many life-drawing classes as he could.  One instructor, a portrait painter from NYC, told him, “If you really want to be an artist, get out of here (college) and go paint.”   To this day, Stan believes it is the very act of painting that is the best instructor, to paraphrase one of his heroes, the Spanish painter, Joaquín Sorolla y Basstida.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Paul-Jean Toulet

Poet Paul-Jean Toulet was the son of a wealthy man living in Mauritius. He was most famous for his opus describing La vie parisienne.
In France, he is mostly famous for a book of verse, Les Contrerimes (Counterrimes). The book was published posthumously but many pieces had been incorporated in his novels or published in literary magazines from 1910 to 1914. Toulet became a model to the fantasist poetic movement from 1911 until the Great War. This explains the following comment made on the reception of his works: "When two men who have read Paul-Jean Toulet meet (usually in a bar), they immediately imagine it's a certain form of aristocracy".
In 1897, Toulet received a copy of The Great God Pan by Arthur Machen from a friend and he translated it the following year. It was finally published in Le Plume in 1901 and then went unnoticed, except for Maeterlinck's reaction "...combining the traditional and scientific fantastic genres, it hits both our memories and hopes". Toulet engaged a correspondence with Machen and visited him in London.
Toulet's own novel Pan du Paur was inspired by Machen. Published in 1898 by Simonis Empris, it wasn't successful either. In 1918, however, it was published again by the Éditions du Divan. This publishing company was owned by Toulet's admirer Henri Martineau, who also led a correspondence with the author.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Paul Citroen at the "Zeehond"

The photo below pictures Dutch painters Paul Citroen (with beret) and Carel Willink, posing in front of the Dutch Navy submarine "Zeehond" (Seal) while visiting it's home port Den Helder.
The "Zeehond" was a Dolphin class, 69 crew sub, launched in 1960 and decommissioned in 1990. As no one bid for it while on auction, it was eventually scrapped in 1997.  

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Bernard Bresslaw / Carry On

Bernard Bresslaw (1934 –1993) was an English comic actor, best remembered as a member of the Carry On team.
The Carry On series primarily consists of 31 classic British comedy motion pictures (1958–92), four Christmas specials, a television series of thirteen episodes, and three West End and provincial stage plays. The films' humour was in the British comic tradition of the music hall and bawdy seaside postcards.
Carry On Sergeant (1958) was about a group of recruits doing National Service; its title, the command commonly issued by army officers to their sergeants in the course of their routine duties, was in keeping with its setting. 
The film was sufficiently successful to inspire a similar venture, again focusing on an established and respected profession in Carry On Nurse. When that too was successful, further forays with Carry On Teacher and Carry On Constable established the series. This initial 'pattern' was broken with the fifth film in 1961, Carry On Regardless, but it still followed a similar plot to that of many of the early films—a small group of misfit newcomers to a job make comic mistakes, but come together to succeed in the end.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018


The Graphics Interchange Format (better known by its acronym GIF) is a bitmap image format that was developed by a team at the bulletin board service (BBS) provider CompuServe led by American computer scientist Steve Wilhite on June 15, 1987. It has since come into widespread usage on the World Wide Web due to its wide support and portability.
As a noun, the word GIF is found in the newer editions of many dictionaries. In 2012, the American wing of the Oxford University Press recognized GIF as a verb as well, meaning "to create a GIF file", as in "GIFing was perfect medium for sharing scenes from the Summer Olympics". 
The press's lexicographers voted it their word of the year, saying that GIFs have evolved into "a tool with serious applications including research and journalism".

GIFs can be used for small animations and low-resolution video clips.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Paul Citroen (2)

Once more, Dutch artist Paul Citroen. 
Marianne Breslauer: Paul Citroen, Berlin, 1928
Roelof Paul Citroen (1896 – 1983) was a German-born Dutch artist, art educator and co-founder of the New Art Academy in Amsterdam. Among his best-known works are the photo-montage Metropolis and 1949 Dutch postage stamps.
Selfportrait, ca. 1939
Citroen was born and grew up in a middle-class family in Berlin. Both his parents were Dutch Jews. His father owned a fur shop. At an early age, Citroen began drawing, provoking strong support from his parents. He soon started to experiment with photography with Erwin Blumenfeld and studied art in Berlin.
Working on portrait of wife Christi Frisch
In 1919 Citroen began studying at the Bauhaus, where he started taking lessons from Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky (part of Der Blaue Reiter) and Johannes Itten, who became one of his biggest influences. Around this time, he started Metropolis (1923), which became his best-known piece. Citroen's Metropolis influenced Fritz Lang to make his classic film Metropolis. Between 1929 and 1935, Citroen made many photographs, clearly influenced by his work with Blumenfeld.
Portrait by Yoke Matze
He soon started up the Nieuwe Kunstschool (New Art School) with Charles Roelofsz. It ran out of money and closed down in 1937. That year, Citroen became a scholar at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague. Among his many students are Kees Bol, Madeleine Gans, Henk Hartog, and Jos Zeegers. He designed his monumental postage stamps in 1949. In 1960 he stopped teaching and started painting portraits as his main focus. He painted portraits of famous Dutch people, including a well-known portrait of Liesbeth List in 1979.

Portrait by Yoke Matze
Paul Citroen died in 1983 in Wassenaar.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Harm Henrick Kamerlingh Onnes

Harm Henrick Kamerlingh Onnes (1893 –1985) was a Dutch portrait painter and ceramist who also produced designs for stamps and stained-glass windows. He is best known for the small, humorous vignettes of everyday life.
Self Portrait
In his early years from 1915 to 1925 his work was influenced by modernism. In 1918 he designed a number of abstract stained-glass windows for the Spark House, which was designed by Jacobus Oud. From 1925, he started to take the everyday reality as his subject, and from that time he only made figurative works.
Farmer by the Fire 
It was after a visit to the studio of Mondrian, that he had realized that abstract art was not for him. Some of his designs for stained-glass windows have discoveries of physicists Pieter Zeeman and Hendrik Lorentz as a subject. One of these stained-glass windows contained a portrait of Hendrik Lorentz and formulas devised by him that describe the behavior of electrons. Other stained-glass windows show the instruments to measure the splitting of spectral lines of atoms under the influence of a magnetic field is measured, the so-called Zeeman effect. He also made portraits of the physicists Albert Einstein and Paul Ehrenfest.
The found object
Harm Kamerlingh Onnes characterized his artistic work with the phrase "just messing around".

The gardeners of Endegeest

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Militarized Basque Berets

Military berets not only have their distinctive badges on the outside, but sometimes also on the inside. Some berets worn by the French military were (the more comfortable) civilian Basque berets (with the cabillou removed). Headbands of these berets were far more comfortable and the label prettier than the standard name/size label in white cotton.
The Lebanese military did the same, it seems (see last photo). 
501° Regiment de Char de Combat
Gendarmerie, 1940s
Ecole militaire preparatoire (1945)
Lebanese militarized Basque beret

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Ron Mael (Sparks)

Ronald David "Ron" Mael (1945) is an American musician, songwriter, composer and record producer.
Mael's music career spans more than 50 years. With his younger brother Russell, he formed the pop band Halfnelson in 1971. After the release of their first album, the band name was changed to Sparks. 
Ron Mael plays the keyboards and synthesizers and writes most of the songs for Sparks. When the band hit the peak of its popularity in the 1970s, he was well known for his strange appearance, often remaining motionless over his keyboard in sharp contrast to Russell's animated and hyperactive frontman antics. 
Ron's conservative clothes and unfashionable, Charlie Chaplin-esque toothbrush moustache attracted much attention, as does his current pencil moustache. Onstage, Ron alternates between playing the keyboard and engaging in comic mime routines, often in connection with projections on backdrop.