Dutch Aert Schouman’s eighteenth century bird painting exhibited


This 2017 Dutch Dordrechts Museum video is about an exhibition of Aert Schouman’s (1710-1792) bird paintings.

On 24 June 2017, I went to that exhibition in Dordrecht of work by Aert Schouman. Schouman was born in, and worked in Dordrecht for much of his life. Seventeenth century Dutch D’Hondecoeter was an inspiration for Schouman’s art on birds.

Among his works are big oil paintings for the walls of Prince William V‘s palace in The Hague. Schouman did that work in 1788, when he was already 78 years old. Four years later, he died. Three more years later, in 1795, Prince William V fled from invading French revolutionary soldiers to England.

Now, these Schouman paintings are usually in Huis ten Bosch royal palace in The Hague. However, that palace is being reconstructed (which costs lots of taxpayers’ money). So, from now till September 2017, there is an opportunity to see them at an exhibition of Schouman’s work in the Dordrechts Museum in Dordrecht.

Biologists have helped with this exhibition as the birds depicted are from many countries and Schouman often did not know exactly which species he painted. He depicted the birds as he saw them in the aviaries of Prince William V and other rich people. Not in their natural environment, as later painters like John James Audubon would do. Schouman often depicted birds from different continents, which would never meet in the wild, together in the same tree in the same painting. Also, eg, Asian golden pheasants meeting European black grouse.

Nevertheless, Schouman’s bird depictions look full of life.

Schouman depicted not just birds. He was an all-round artist, also painting portraits, landscapes, mammals and more. He decorated fans and drinking glasses.

This is a 2015 Dordrechts Museum video about various sides of Schouman’s art.

In 1734, Schouman made his first depiction of birds, in a watercolour. He lived at a time when science about birds and other animals was progressing, with Linnaeus’ classification of the natural world, and Buffon‘s first steps toward an evolution theory. However, Schouman still depicted flying birds of paradise without feet, because of the misunderstanding then caused by exporting them feetless to Europe from distant hardly known New Guinea. In New Guinea, birds of paradise were used in headdresses, for which the feet were useless. For export, the feet were cut off as well. Though a century before Schouman, Jan Brueghel in a painting made jointly with Rubens, had already depicted a bird of paradise with feet; contrary to most seventeenth century artists and scientists. Later, Schouman’s contemporary Linnaeus still called a bird of paradise species Paradisea apoda, “footless paradise bird.” Nevertheless, in 1758 Schouman depicted a sitting bird of that species with feet.

Feetless bird of paradise flying, by Schouman

Schouman was not consistent on birds of paradise. In the top left painting in this picture, a feetless bird of paradise flies over an Asian silver pheasant and a South American cock-of-the-rock.

Only in the 19th century a European would see a, non-feetless, bird of paradise in the wild for the first time.

As we traveled to Dordrecht, we saw white storks from the train in meadows near Voorschoten.

Along the garden path to the museum entrance, cardboard cutouts of birds: a blue tit, a house sparrow, a toucan, a pelican. On the lawn, a living blackbird.

Dordrecht museum restaurant table, 24 June 2017

Bird figurines on the museum restaurant tables. Like all photos in this blog post, this is a cellphone photo.

Hooded crow and hoopoe, 24 June 2017

One of the first paintings near the entrance of the exhibition shows birds native to the Netherlands, at least in the eighteenth century. At the top of this work, a hooded crow (by now rare in the Netherlands; only in winter) flies. Below it, a hoopoe (no longer a breeding bird in the Netherlands).

Still further down, a male teal flying; and a bearded reedling couple sitting. Below, from left to right: an oystercatcher, a white-fronted goose, a smew, a shelduck, a moorhen and a mute swan.

Cassowary and pheasants, 24 May 2017

Next to it hung a painting of exotic birds, including southern cassowary, golden pheasant and silver pheasant. Also, a brown capuchin monkey.

Crowned pigeon, 24 June 2017

A bit further, this crowned pigeon, one of the world’s biggest pigeons, next to a smaller relative.

Southern crowned pigeon, 24 June 2017

Here, another picture of the same southern crowned pigeon species.

Southern crowned pigeon and pheasants, 24 June 2017

And here, that same crowned pigeon with its context of a silver pheasant couple and flying parrots.

Golden orioles, 24 June 2017

Next, an adult male golden oriole with its youngster in the nest.

There will be more on this blog about the Schouman exhibition. So, stay tuned!

German Hitler-whitewashing professor Baberowski condemned


This video, about crimes of the nazi occupation of then Poland, now Ukraine says about itself:

Rape of Jewish women and slaughter of over 6,000 Jews. Lviv 1941

16 May 2016

Description at beginning of film.

This city is known by three names. Lviv (Ukrainian); pronounced as L’vil.

Lwow (Polish) pronounced L’vuf. L’vof Russian. Also called Lemburg by the Germans.

The pogrom against the Jews there may be associated by either of these names so it can be confusing.

Actions like this also happened in Kaunas, Lithuania, mostly perpetrated by [pro-nazi] Lithuanians.

One of the first films showing Jews forced to run to trenches to be shot was filmed by an off duty German sailor here in 1941. This film is intended for education only and is of significant value to all those seeking an unbiased view into the dark primeval soul of humanity. … No generation of any people of today should be associated with what happened back then.

Music: Krzysztof Penderecki. “The Dream of Jacob”.

By Peter Schwarz in Germany:

German law professor accuses Baberowski of right-wing extremism and historical revisionism

15 June 2017

Two weeks have now passed since Professor Jörg Baberowski withdrew his lawsuit against the general student committee (ASTA) of Bremen University.

The head of the Department of Eastern European History at Humboldt University (HU) wanted to ban the Bremen students from criticising his statements and describing him as a right-wing extremist and racist. In this, he has completely failed. His lawyer was forced to withdraw his legal complaint on June 1 so as to avoid a written judgement that would have been devastating to Baberowski’s reputation. The Cologne District Court of Appeals (OLG) made unmistakably clear during the oral arguments that it would rule in favour of the ASTA.

Despite Baberowski’s defeat, a statement defending him by the HU Presidium dated March 30, 2017 is still posted in the press section of the university’s web site. In it, the Presidium claims that his scholarly statements are “not right-wing extremist” and criticism of them is “unacceptable.” It threatens Baberowski’s critics with criminal prosecution.

The statement refers to a March 15, 2017 ruling by the Cologne District Court that was explicitly rejected by the OLG and is no longer valid following the withdrawal of the lawsuit. The OLG judges specifically contradicted the allegation that statements by Baberowski had been torn out of context and cited “falsely and in a manner that distorted their meaning,” as the statement of the Humboldt University Presidium claims.

Despite this, the Presidium has not retracted its statement. Neither have any of the 23 professors who signed it withdrawn their signatures. One can conclude only that this is a conscious decision to defend or at least cover up right-wing extremist and historical revisionist positions.

Renowned jurist Andreas Fischer-Lescano made this unmistakably clear in a full-page article published on June 10 in the Frankfurter Rundschau and now available online. The law professor heads the Center for European Law and Politics at Bremen University and is an expert on public law, European law and international law. He became well known nationwide in 2011 when he discovered plagiarism in the doctoral thesis of then-Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, which ultimately led to Guttenberg’s resignation.

Fischer-Lescano advises Baberowski’s supporters to take his defeat in Cologne “as an opportunity to distance themselves from their premature whitewashing of the scholar.” There were good reasons why the District Court of Appeals had confirmed that “after a close analysis of Baberowski’s writings and statements on daily politics,” he had to “accept the criticism of his positions as right-wing extremist.” These reasons, the court said, were “to be found in the works of Baberowski.”

In contrast to the Presidium’s statement, which describes Baberowski as having unquestionable “integrity” as a scholar, who could be referred to as a right-wing extremist, whether that was right or wrong, only “because of the right to freedom of opinion guaranteed in the Basic Law,” Fischer-Lescano notes that one cannot “make a distinction between the right-wing author of texts on daily politics” and the “excellent scholar.” With Baberowski, his “scholarly oeuvre and statements on daily politics” coalesce “into an amalgam of right-wing extremist criticism that is pervaded by historical revisionism and nationalist motives.”

Fischer-Lescano substantiates this in detail in the course of his article. He notes how Baberowski defended the Nazi apologist Ernst Nolte in Der Spiegel in February 2014 and went on to assert: “Hitler was not a psychopath. He was not vicious. He did not want people to talk about the extermination of the Jews at his table.” Baberowski has recently repeated this remark on several occasions and justified it.

It is simply historically false to state that Hitler did not want to discuss the extermination of the Jews at his table, Fischer-Lescano remarks, pointing to documented discussions at Hitler’s table in the Wolf’s Lair. But even if Hitler had remained silent at his table, it could “not be concluded from this that Hitler was ‘not vicious.’” There is “no conceivable context in which Baberowski’s statement that Hitler was not vicious would not be repulsive.” Viciousness, Fischer-Lescano continues, is “one of the legal criteria for murder. The perpetrator acts without feeling or mercy. But what was the Holocaust if not vicious mass murder?”

At another point in his article, Fischer-Lescano points out that Baberowski eliminates “anti-Semitism entirely from his explanatory model for Nazi violence.” He adds that in his study of violence, Baberowski does not use the word anti-Semitism once.

In his statements on daily politics regarding violence and refugees, Baberowski argues in “openly nationalist” terms, Fischer-Lescano writes. He cites as an example the fact that Baberowski asserts, in regard to the integration of refugees, that this endangers “the traditional continuity in which we stand and which provides social stability and consistency.” He further notes that Baberowski promotes violence in connection with people “who want to destroy us and our way of life.”

At the same time, Baberowski downplays the violence to which refugees are exposed: “Refugee deaths in the Mediterranean, xenophobic attacks in Germany, the burning of refugee accommodation centresviolence against refugees is for this researcher on violence ‘relatively harmless’ and represents an understandable response to problems with immigration,” writes Fischer-Lescano.

Fischer-Lescano also deals with the methods employed by Baberowski and his supporters to silence his critics. With the conclusion of the court proceedings, a “peculiar spectacle of self-dramatisation” has come to an end, he writes. For months, Baberowski has “spread the narrative in the literary supplements of newspapers that he was a victim of left-wing moral guardians engaged in intellectual terrorism against him.” The same tone was to be found in statements of solidarity portraying Baberowski as a renowned scholar who was being unfairly defamed.

Baberowski “attempts to define his revisionist and nationalist comments as the ‘new mainstream,’ and protests against being described as what he really is: a right-wing extremist. He has—and this is the shocking thing—managed over months to win support for his right-wing extremist statements and mobilise new allies who have unconditionally attested that he is not arguing as a right-wing extremist,” states Fischer-Lescano.

The author of the article adds that while Baberowski “discredited those who criticised his statements, while he intimidated student critics and sought to silence them in the courts, he sought to claim the right to freedom of opinion for himself.”

Fischer-Lescano accuses the Presidium of Humboldt University of “not saying a word in its March statement about this perfidious action—even though it was directed against students—and instead asserting that the professor was arguing ‘not as a right-wing extremist’ in his academic work.” This demonstrates “how shockingly normal right-wing speech at universities has become.” A university that, after Baberowski’s defeat in Cologne, insists “that its academic is not arguing as a right-wing extremist” is making itself “an accomplice of right-wing scholarship.”

This is undoubtedly correct. But one must add that over the past three years hardly any academic or journalist was disturbed by Baberowski’s right-wing extremist and historical revisionist views. The only ones to warn of his defence of Nolte and Hitler were the Sozialistische Gleichheitspartei (Socialist Equality Party—SGP) and the International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE). For this reason, they were targeted for an hysterical campaign of slander in the media, without a single voice being raised in opposition.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zietung led the way in this campaign. On March 27, 2017, it published a tirade by Heike Schmoll titled “The creeping poison of character assassination,” which combined shameless lies with outrageous slanders and accused the IYSSE of violating “freedom of scholarship” by criticising Baberowski’s right-wing extremist statements.

Die Welt and Cicero Magazine were not far behind, and even Die Zeit displayed its support for Baberowski in a lengthy feature by Mariam Lau. Fischer-Lescano is correct to state that “right-wing speech” has “become shockingly normal,” and not only at universities.

If the IYSSE and SGP had not taken up these issues in the face of huge pressures, Baberowski would still be free to spread his right-wing ideology unhindered. The Left Party, the Social Democrats (SPD) and the Greens all maintained a stony silence or defended Baberowski. Humboldt University President Sabine Kunst is an SPD politician.

While the HU administration, several other academic institutions and numerous professors backed Baberowski or remained silent, the IYSSE found strong support for its criticisms among students and workers. Many student bodies, including the student parliament at HU, passed resolutions critical of Baberowski.

The Bremen ASTA protested against Baberowski on its own initiative. But in the course of its legal proceedings against Baberowski, it was able to rely on the material produced by the IYSSE and SGP. Fischer-Lescano himself uses citations from the book published in 2015 by Mehring Verlag titled Scholarship or War Propaganda, as well as passages from articles published on the World Socialist Web Site in the course of the conflict with Baberowski.

In the final analysis, the normalisation of “right-wing speech at universities” is the result of fundamental political shifts. Three years ago, in its first statement on Baberowski’s claim that “Hitler was not vicious,” the IYSSE pointed to the connection between Baberowski’s downplaying of Hitler’s crimes and the growth of German militarism.

German President Joachim Gauck and other leading government members had just declared the “end of military restraint.” As the IYSSE wrote in 2014, “The attempts to establish a historically false narrative come at a critical point in German history. The revival of German militarism requires a new interpretation of history that downplays the crimes of the Nazi era.”

Since then, this militarisation has continued to advance. The fight against “right-wing tendencies in scholarship”—as Fischer-Lescano puts it in the title of his article—is thus only beginning. It is inseparable from the struggle against militarism and war.

The IYSSE demands that the Humboldt University Presidium publicly retract its statement supporting Baberowski and remove it from the HU web site. An open letter to this effect dated June 8 has thus far elicited no response.

The university administration is deeply discredited. It is apparently playing for time. While it fired left-wing sociologist Andrej Holm for a trivial matter and reinstated him only after protests from students, it is defending the right-wing extremist historian Jörg Baberowski at all costs. The outcome of the legal proceedings in Cologne has, however, upset its plans.

Skellig Michael island, Ireland


This video says about itself:

2 June 2017

Over seven miles off the Irish coast lie the sea crags of Skellig Michael, a breathtaking island once home to a community of reclusive monks. More recently, a different kind of hermit used it as his fictitious home: Luke Skywalker.

The video does not mention the many seabirds of Skellig Michael. When I was there long ago, puffins nested along the footpath. There were razorbills and guillemots. On the other Skellig island, Little Skellig, many gannets nest.

Viking army camp discovery in England


This video says about itself:

Top 10 GLORIOUS Facts about the VIKINGS

7 October 2016

The first record of the Scandinavian people known as the Vikings, or Norsemen (Northmen), was when they raided England in 793 A.D. The word Viking comes from the Scandinavian term vikingr, a word for “pirate.” Essentially, Scandinavian men would go on “a Viking” during the summer in which they’d raid the coastal areas of countries like France and England. Even today, over 1,200 years after they first made landfall in England, the Vikings have a reputation as fierce warriors and amazing seafaring people that explored more of the world than anyone before them.

10. Traders
9. Women Vikings Travelled with the Men
8. Viking Feasts
7. Drug Users
6. They Filed Their Teeth
5. The Viking Compass
4. Mead
3. The Middle East
2. They Founded Dublin and Other Irish Towns
1. Caused the Spread of the House Mouse

From the University of Sheffield in England:

Viking army camp uncovered by archaeologists in England

May 18, 2017

Summary: Thousands of Vikings established a camp in Lincolnshire as they prepared to conquer ninth century England, archaeologists have discovered. Vikings used camp in winter to repair ships, melt down stolen loot, trade and play games.

A huge camp which was home to thousands of Vikings as they prepared to conquer England in the late ninth century has been uncovered by archaeologists.

Established in Torksey, on the banks of the River Trent in Lincolnshire, the camp was used as the Vikings‘ defensive and strategic position during the winter months.

The research, conducted by archaeologists at the Universities of Sheffield and York, has revealed how the camp was used by thousands of Viking warriors, women and children who lived there temporarily in tented accommodation.

They also used the site as a base to repair ships, melt down stolen loot, manufacture, trade and play games.

Professor Dawn Hadley, who led the research from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Archaeology said: “The Vikings’ camp at Torksey was much more than just a handful of hardy warriors — this was a huge base, larger than most contemporary towns, complete with traders, families, feasting, and entertainment.

“From what has been found at the site, we know they were repairing their boats there and melting down looted gold and silver to make ingots — or bars of metal they used to trade.

“Metal detectorists have also found more than 300 lead game pieces, suggesting the Vikings, including women and children, were spending a lot of time playing games to pass the time, waiting for spring and the start of their next offensive.”

The findings have now been used to create a virtual reality experience giving users an opportunity to experience what life was like in a Viking army camp.

The virtual reality experience has been developed by researchers at the University of York and is part of an exhibition at the Yorkshire Museum that opens on Friday (19 May 2017).

All the scenes featured in the virtual reality experience are based on real objects found by archaeologists and metal detectorists at Torksey.

Professor Julian Richards, from the Department of Archaeology at the University of York, said: “These extraordinary images offer a fascinating snap shot of life at a time of great upheaval in Britain.

“The Vikings had previously often raided exposed coastal monasteries and returned to Scandinavia in winter, but in the later ninth century they came in larger numbers, and decided to stay. This sent a very clear message that they now planned not only to loot and raid — but to control and conquer.”

Dr Gareth Beale from York’s Digital Creativity Labs added: “The new research by the Universities of Sheffield and York has been used to create the most realistic images of the camp to date, based on real findings. These images are also believed to be the most realistic Virtual Reality ever created anywhere of the Viking world.”

The exact location and scale of the camp in Lincolnshire has been debated for many years, but now the research by Sheffield and York is beginning to reveal the true extent of the camp. It is now thought to be at least 55 hectares in size, bigger than many towns and cities of the time, including York.

There have also been more than a thousand finds by metal detectorists and archaeologists, including over 300 coins. They include more than 100 Arabic silver coins which would have come to the area through established Viking trade routes.

More than 50 pieces of chopped up silver, including brooch fragments and ingots have been found along with rare hackgold. Evidence has been found that these items were being processed at the camp — chopped up to be melted down. Other finds include the 300 gaming pieces, iron tools, spindle whorls, needles and fishing weights.

Using landscape analysis, the research has been able to reveal the topography of the camp. With the River Trent to the west and surrounding land prone to flooding to this day, its strength as a defensive position becomes clear.

New South Korean president corrects dictator’s daughter predecessor’s historical whitewash


This video series says about itself:

9 January 2012

On October 26, 1979, South Korean president and military dictator Park Chung-hee was assassinated by his intelligence chief Kim Jae-kyu. Many people had high hopes of democracy.

Background: After the government of the first South Korean President Rhee Seung-man toppled in the April Revolution of 1960, Park Chung-hee staged a military coup, after which he ruled South Korea for 18 years. The Yushin Constitution of 1972 guaranteed Park’s perpetual dictatorship by the election of the president [away] from the voters to an electoral college, alloting one third of the National Assembly seats to appointment by the president, giving the president authority to issue emergency decrees and suspend the Constitution, and giving the president authority to appoint all judges and dismiss the National Assembly. By the late 1970s, demonstrations against the Yushin system erupted throughout the country. When Park Chung-hee was assassinated on October 26, 1979, it seemed as if the spring would com early to Seoul.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

South Korea: Moon closes one chapter of Park’s horrid history

Saturday 13th May 2017

SOUTH KOREAN President Moon Jae In has reversed his predecessor’s decision to replace school history books with her official version.

In 2015 impeached president Park Geun Hye’s government proposed to outlaw textbooks that it claimed were too left-leaning and encouraged views sympathetic to North Korea.

Teachers protested that the new books whitewashed the bloodthirsty dictatorship of Ms Park’s father, Park Chung Hee, and amid strong resistance to the plan Korean Confederation of Trade Unions president Han Sang Gyun was jailed for five years, along with other leaders, for organising a march against the law.

MPs from Mr Moon’s Minjoo (Democratic) party said they would push for a parliamentary debate on the last government’s hosting of US Thaad anti-ballistic missiles, which has angered neighbour China.

And in the first sign of Mr Moon’s pledge to take on big business, the Transport Ministry ordered the recall of 240,000 Hyundai cars for defects exposed by a whistleblower.