What I learned last week (#122): great art explained

Learned last week: great art, dowsing, fish fingers, the stroke, and more!

Quote I was thinking about:

“To read without reflecting is like eating without digesting.”

Edmund Burke

This made me think of a book on my virtual Kindle shelf called How to Read a Book and also the value of my (few) book review posts.


Book excerpt I enjoyed:

“Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain—and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.” (Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People)


Great series on great art:

Like taking a short museum tour. Very well-narrated and super interesting.

“What a brilliant series this is. Here’s his latest episode, a superb exploration of Rothko’s Seagram Murals” – Stephen Fry on Twitter 12 December 2020

I started “Great Art Explained” during lockdown. My aim is to make videos which focus on one great artwork. I want to present art in a jargon free, entertaining, clear and concise way with no gimmicks.

I really enjoyed the Rothko one above but the series on The Garden of Earthly Delights (3 parts!) is my favorite.

Check out the others here:

Hieronymus Bosch, The Garden of Earthly Delights (Part Two): Great Art Explained

Hieronymus Bosch, The Garden of Earthly Delights (Part Three): Great Art Explained


Finding water with a stick:

I’ve heard of dowsing before, but I had simply dismissed it as B.S. This article makes me think a bit differently. It makes me happy that there are still things out there for which we don’t have all the answers for.

In the old days, a dowser might zigzag all over a field until the L rods tugged, Herbert says, “but modern dowsers have a shortcut method.”

He draws a single L rod from his hip and, gripping it like a revolver in his right hand, pans it slowly across the job site. He is scanning, which seems like a sensible thing to do. And then suddenly I’m witnessing something I’ve never seen.

Herbert’s arm continues panning, but the L rod rotates in his hand, as if the tip has locked onto an invisible magnet. He wiggles his hand back and forth for emphasis: Stuck, see? It. Is. Un. Canny. I look for some sleight of hand but can’t detect any movement in his wrist.

We walk into the wild grass on the bearing Herbert dowsed, and I feel my reality slipping.

Read Into the Mystical and Inexplicable World of Dowsing on outsideonline.com


A collaboration of art and music:

An animator collaborates with the London jazz band Ill Considered.

The Stroke is a hand-drawn animation film that reverses the roles of audio and visuals for a music video. Improvised on its very first viewing, the music for The Stroke was the immediate response of the musicians to the artistic and emotional visual journey.

Check out the creation process for the animation and music:


An origin story for fish fingers:

A little history this week. Fish sticks originally came about to make seafood more palatable for American tastes. Definitely maps to my experience as a child.

Josephson calls fish sticks “the ocean’s hot dogs.” Served as casseroles or alongside mashed potatoes, they quickly became standby meals for school lunches and family dinners. During the pandemic, demand has risen—in some countries reportedly by up to 50 percent—as families stock up on convenience foods during lockdowns.

Surprisingly, fish sticks are fairly sustainable. Today, most contain Alaska pollock, which is largely sourced from well-managed fisheries, says Jack Clarke, a sustainable seafood advocate at the United Kingdom–based Marine Conservation Society. The climate impact of fish sticks is small, too. “I was surprised at how low it was,” says Brandi McKuin, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Santa Cruz, who recently studied Alaska pollock products. Each kilogram of fish sticks produces about 1.3 kilograms of carbon dioxide, which “rivals the climate impact of tofu,” she says. Beef, by comparison, produces over 100 times that amount of carbon dioxide per kilogram.

But not everyone seems confident about what exactly they’re eating when they consume the breaded fish. In the United Kingdom, where fish sticks are known as fish fingers, a survey revealed that one in five young adults believes they are actually the fingers of fish.

Read The Surprising Success Story of Fish Sticks on smithsonianmag.com


Stuff I wrote and drew about this week:


Other things I was reminded of, or thankful for, last week:

  • We finally got some plans sent up to the planning gods for our house renovation project. While that was a huge relief, we are bracing for a lot of work ahead. Home renovation learnings will probably be a recurring theme in the weeks and months ahead. 🤪
  • The kids and I have been playing a lot of Mario Kart 8 and Mario Sonic Olympics on the Switch. I have been studying the different character stat combinations as well in MK8 as I never knew there was so much behind the different combinations of drivers, carts, and equipment. 🤯

Last but not least, check out what I’m up to now.

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