Meet The Sculptor: Philip Jackson

Born in Inverness, Philip Jackson lives and works in West Sussex. He was appointed Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list 2009.

Jackson’s ability to convey the human condition through skillful use of body language is legendary, producing figures both imposing and operatic in their narrative and presence, which are recognizable worldwide.
Powerful and beautifully sculpted, Jackson’s meticulously precise posturing of each piece creates an overwhelming sense of drama.

escultorWhether with the prestigious, figuratively detailed public monuments and statues for which he is often commissioned, or his hauntingly elegant and theatrically enigmatic gallery sculptures, Philip Jackson’s work is truly awe inspiring — it never fails to move people.

Kremlin in 3D

Found a site offering 3D tours of Kremlin territory, Kremlin State Theater and –the best of them all — Kremlin’s Teremnoy Palace. Had a great visit. Zoom in and out, go left, right, up and down… Have fun.

The Teremnoy PalaceTeremnoy Palace was built by B. Ogurtsov, T. Sharutin, A.Konstantinov and L. Ushakov in 1635-1636 during the rule of Michael I of Russia. The remains of the Armory were used as a basement. Tsar’s apartments that comprised four rooms of the average size, occupied the second floor.

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kremlim.PNGThe State Kremlin PalaceThe State Kremlin Palace, formerly known as the Kremlin Palace of Congresses was built in 1961 under the management of M.V. Posokhin with the support of Khrushchev on the site of the old building of the Kremlin Armory. The construction lasted for 16 months and the opening was dated for the 22 conference of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Besides congresses, conferences and meetings, the hall is intended for festivals and theatrical performances: operas, ballets and concerts.kremlin.PNGMoscow Kremlin territoryMoscow Kremlin was built on Borovitsky Hill on the left side of the Moscow River. First fortifications, surrounded by ditch and earth mound, were constructed there in 1156. In 1238, during Mongol-Tatar invasion Moscow Kremlin was demolished, in 1339 it was rebuilt; current walls and towers were built in 1485-1516. Today Kremlin houses a residence of Russian President and a lot of historical monuments.

Ig Nobel Once Again

The Ig Nobel prizes are given every year for “achievements that make people LAUGH, and then THINK.” The  Annals of Improbable Research, the science humor magazine doles out the awards.

This year honorees included a man who lived as a goat, a man who lived as a badger, a man who put tiny pants on rats and tracked their sex lives, a team who investigated the personalities of rocks, and Volkswagen. The Chemistry Prize, awarded to Volkswagen “for solving the problem of excessive automobile pollution emissions,” was particularly ignoble.

In the picture above, Thomas Thwaites, in his goat suit, prepares to speak after receiving the Ig Nobel prize in biology from Nobel laureate Eric Maskin (economics, 2007) during ceremonies at Harvard University on Thursday.

Japanese scientists bend over forward to win an Ig Nobel prize for Perception Study. They  investigated “whether things look different when you bend over and view them between your legs.”

True, most of the awards were grin-inducing. However, in my opinion, the level of hilarity wasn’t quite as high as at the other years Ig Nobel ceremonies — Ig Nobel 2014 or last the 2015’s Happy 25th Birthday, Ig Nobel.




Russian Hack Of WADA: Cyber-detective’s Opinion

«Если бы эти преступники устроили атаку, то за один день нельзя было бы понять, кто это сделал...»

The Fancy Bears hack is “an extension of a political beat-up from disgruntled people in Russia” which is clearly targeting WADA. “It’s trying to draw the conclusion that WADA is complicit in allowing athletes to dope to deflect from the fact that Russia was complicit in allowing athletes to dope,” says Richard Ings, who as a former president of the Australian Anti‑Doping Agency and senior executive of the ATP tennis tour.

“WADA has no doubt that these ongoing attacks are being carried out in retaliation against the agency and the global antidoping system because of our independent…investigations that exposed state-sponsored doping in Russia,” said Olivier Niggli, the group’s director general.

Криминалисты из интернета: как устроено главное в России кибердетективное агентство

All right then. This handsome lad is Ilya Sachkov, the founder of Group-IB: Global Cyber Security Company, as featured in Forbes. He is a quintessential cyber-detective, a head of a private company employing a number of the best and finest anti-hackers in the world. And Microsoft can vouch for this.  His opinion about the WADA database huck differs greatly from the opinions of sports leaders, WADA officials and politicians.

Mr. Sachkov is Russian, all right. The very fact that his company is — among other things, but first and foremost — in a business of turning profit,  makes him sufficiently cosmopolitan, in my opinion, to be a true professional and to opine objectively. There is no point for Mr. Sachkov to make unsubstantiated claims and risk his reputation, is there? It would be unwise, wouldn’t it, given his company’s global status and where some of his money come from.

This is what the handsome lad from the Forbes picture has to say about Fancy Bears and WADA hack:

An attack of this kind is a rather dangerous undertaking. It attracts huge amount of attention, including that of various Western intelligence agencies. Assuming that these criminals indeed committed this cyber-attack, then it would be impossible to figure out who’d done it in one day. As a criminologist, I would rather wait for the results of proper investigation, then charges, and only afterwards the accusation. It’s simply impossible to come to any conclusion in a matter of one day. Sometimes it’s impossible in a matter of months. […]

There is no such criminal group. […] Connection of this cyber-attack with previous ones is tenuous at best. As a rule, hackers announce their activities only if they want to be found quickly.  American authorities are capable of arresting anyone virtually anywhere in the world.  Revealing themselves in such manner serves them no purpose.

According to Mr. Sachkov, WADA database hack looks suspiciously staged.

The hack job of this complexity can bring hackers some $20,000. It is a lot easier to steal substantially greater amount of money hacking banks. No hacker will take such risk for the reward this negligible, or as a result of patriotic feelings. Besides, no one needs this hack job, really. Clearly not WADA. Russia wouldn’t be interested since this information has no legal value whatsoever. There are other means of upholding the honor of the Olympians.

The interview with Mr. Sachkov appeared in Translation from Russian is mine. 




Meet The Artist: Tomek Setowsky

Image result for setowskyTomek Setowski (his web page is in Polish with lots of images) is a Polish artist born, by his own admission, “a very long time ego” in Kraków-Częstochowa Upland. He revealed his artistic talents at the tender age of three.His learning lasted for a long time…BiografiaThe young dreamer honed his painting skills over the years, displaying his works first at local galleries and then moving to the best showrooms of the world.For many years Setowski has been put under the wide notion of surrealism. Only recently it was decided that artists having a similar style fall under “magical realism” or “fantastic realism” and the artists themselves (what is often stressed by Setowski) are closer to Bosch than Salvador Dali. There are not many representatives of this trend in the world, for creating such works deserves a faultless, almost masterly technique and immense imagination. (From an article on Setowski here.)

Dearest Creature In Creation, Study English Pronunciation

knigaTo commemorate a belated International Literacy Day (September 8th), check your pronunciation skills in English.

In 1922, Dutch poet Gerard Nolste Trenité wrote a poem containing around 800 bizarre irregularities in the English language. It’s a tongue twister, a particularly useful exercise for bilingual people striving to master serviceable, if not excellent, English. If you can pronounce all the words in the poem then you’re verified as a master of the language. I must’ve made close to 500 mistakes on the first try. Here it is:

Dearest creature in creation,
Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.
Pray, console your loving poet,
Make my coat look new, dear, sew it!

Just compare heart, beard, and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word, Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it’s written.)
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as plaque and ague.
But be careful how you speak:
Say break and steak, but bleak and streak;
Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, show, poem, and toe.

Hear me say, devoid of trickery,
Daughter, laughter, and Terpsichore,
Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles,
Exiles, similes, and reviles;
Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far;
One, anemone, Balmoral,
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel;
Gertrude, German, wind and mind,
Scene, Melpomene, mankind.

Billet does not rhyme with ballet,
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.
Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.
Viscous, viscount, load and broad,
Toward, to forward, to reward.
And your pronunciation’s OK
When you correctly say croquet,
Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,
Friend and fiend, alive and live.

Ivy, privy, famous; clamour
And enamour rhyme with hammer.
River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,
Doll and roll and some and home.
Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Souls but foul, haunt but aunt,
Font, front, wont, want, grand, and grant,
Shoes, goes, does. Now first say finger,
And then singer, ginger, linger,
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, gouge and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, and age.

Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion and battalion.
Sally with ally, yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, and key.
Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, deceiver.
Heron, granary, canary.
Crevice and device and aerie.

Pronunciation — think of Psyche!
Is a paling stout and spikey?
Won’t it make you lose your wits,
Writing groats and saying grits?
It’s a dark abyss or tunnel:
Strewn with stones, stowed, solace, gunwale,
Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict and indict.

Finally, which rhymes with enough —
Though, through, plough, or dough, or cough?
Hiccough has the sound of cup.
My advice is to give up!!!

Check how good you are:



In a note to clients out Tuesday, Bank of America Merrill Lynch said there’s a 20%-50% chance that we’re living in the matrix — meaning that the world we experience as “real” is actually just a simulation.

The firm cites comments from Elon Musk, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Nick Bostrom’s seminal paper on the issue as the basis for its 20%-50% view.

There are lots of mentions of BAML’s latest example of eccentricity everywhere. Here is a short article in Yahoo Finance. I find the comments to the article to be truly entertaining —  sarcastic, disdainful, fantastical, angry, pseudo-scientific — an incredible range of responses quite unusual for an article about a bank’s note to clients. One of the comments, for instance, says: 

“I prefer bankers providing me with checking services rather than with my philosophical musings.” 

Yet another:

“Is that like some kinda preemptive ruse for when they actually rob my account, they’ll now be able to blame the “architect” or a “Smith” did it ? We live in sad times indeed.”

Indeed. Banks’ profits, on the other hand, is a rather impressive simulation, with very real dollar signs all over it.

Cloning Voynich Manuscript

It's one of the world's most mysterious books; a centuries-old manuscript written in an unknown or coded language that no one has cracked. Now after a ten-year quest for access, Siloe, a small publishing house has secured the right to clone the Voynich manuscriptVoynich Manuscript, all 240 pages of it, remains a literary mystery that baffled scholars, cryptographers and code-breakers since its discovery in an Italian monastery in 1912. Recently, it was widely reported that Siloe, a small Spanish publishing house has secured the right to clone the document.  898 exact replicas of the Voynich manuscript, once completed, will be sold  for a hefty 7,000 to 8,000 euros (£6,030 to £6,891 or $7,800 to $8,900) apiece.

It will take Siloe around 18 months to make the first clones, in a painstaking process that started in April when a photographer took detailed snaps of the original in Yale. The copies will be so faithful that every stain, hole, sewn-up tear in the parchment will be reproduced.
It will take Siloe around 18 months to make the first clones, in a painstaking process that started in April when a photographer took detailed snaps of the original in Yale. The copies will be so faithful that every stain, hole, sewn-up tear in the parchment will be reproduced
An informative and well-illustrated article Will the Voynich manuscript finally be cracked? Publisher to create clones of ‘the world’s most mysterious book’ to help experts break its code  has all the details.

If interested in paging through the entire book, here is the pdf file of the entire manuscript: Voynich. Happy decoding!


Iconic Image Of Historical Importance… Or Not

Dear Mark Zuckerberg.

I follow you on Facebook, but you don’t know me. I am editor-in-chief of the Norwegian daily newspaper Aftenposten...

It’s all over the news now, an open letter written by  Espen Egil Hansen, the editor-in-chief of Norway’s largest newspaper, Aftenposten, after Facebook temporarily deleted a post containing an iconic Vietnam War photograph, and then deleted posts criticizing the initial photograph’s removal.

Facebook staunchly defended its decision at first. It took Facebook 2 weeks to figure out the difference between war photography and kiddie porn. Facebook reversed itself and announced that the photo will be allowed after all because of its historic significance.

“An image of a naked child would normally be presumed to violate our Community Standards, and in some countries might even qualify as child pornography,” a spokeswoman told The Huffington Post in a statement. “In this case, we recognize the history and global importance of this image in documenting a particular moment in time. Because of its status as an iconic image of historical importance, the value of permitting sharing outweighs the value of protecting the community by removal, so we have decided to reinstate the image on Facebook where we are aware it has been removed. We will also adjust our review mechanisms to permit sharing of the image going forward.”

Very well then. How the status as an iconic image of historical importance is or will be determined? By whom? By the algorithms encoded in Facebook office in California, of course. So happens, these algorithms, however sophisticated, have already assumed the tasks and the duties of the omnipotent editor-in-chief.

“This right and duty, which all editors in the world have, should not be undermined by algorithms encoded in your office in California,” Hansen says in his letter.

I don’t have a Facebook account, thus I cannot be 100% certain that the pictures below  would pass Facebook’s scrutiny. God knows, maybe for lack of  historical importance, deemed not iconic enough. Lots of nudity, you see. Pedophiles of the world might get overly excited.

This photograph, taken in one of the Nazi’s concentration camps, for instance: this one, of starving children of Africa: this one, of holodomor in Ukraine: