http: backlash backlash / Nature / Womanspace / Rybicki

Ed hits all the wrong buttons and enters a parallel web.
It happens to all of us now and again. That giddy sense that the world has shifted. It happened to Ed Rybicki just recently when his gentle story "Womanspace" appeared in Nature. A short sci-fi piece on parallel worlds that, because it involved gender issues and shopping, caught fire on entry into the blogosphere. Now, Ed enjoys parallel universes (see Ed's previous story) and so it is fitting that this reaction seemed to come straight out of another dimension. You can read the best defence of Ed at

Anyway, here is my little cartoon to celebrate Ed's unfortunate sojourn into the gendered net. So, if your cursor looks like this ♂, don't hit the backlash key \\\\\\\\\\ ....

Celebrate His 'n' Hers shopping experiences: buy this image on a SHOPPING BAG! It also makes an ideal mousepad for the politically incorrect man in your life. See all products with this image.

You can licence this cartoon. Anything from a small personal use upwards.

Why do we put more emphasis on formal music education than art education?

Why is it considered normal and desirable to teach young children music in a structured and formal way but not visual art? Not just at school. Many parents pay for after school piano lessons but how many pay for perspective lessons? How many children are forced to practice their academic drawing skills for hours a week? Take exams?

Money. Can it be that music is more lucrative? Probably. At least with music you can generally earn some money (playing in an orchestra or band) whereas in the visual arts it is virtually impossible to make a living.

Performance. (OK, this is really a subset of the money idea, since people pay for performances, and performances are, by their nature, ephemeral.) Despite the ubiquity of recorded music, music is still chiefly a performance thing. Art is not (with the superb exception of Rolf Harris and his live TV paintings - and of course Rolf Harris was also a musician...). This difference between music and painting was brilliantly captured for me when I heard Joni Mitchell use Van Gogh as an example  many years ago. Still, Joni Mitchell was also a painter. (As an aside, when it comes to contemplating lyrics, only Jethro Tull crops up in my mind more frequently than Joni Mitchell.)

Teaching. Can it be a lack of teachers? The visual arts are in decline as a discipline. Might be that.

Bias. I remember at school that errors in spelling were taken much more seriously than errors in drawing. Overall, this might be a good thing, but it is illustrative of the bias. Children often paint the sky as a band at the top margin of their picture. How often are they criticised for this? What about fence posts that stray from the vertical (ask a child to draw a fence around a house*) or chimneys that tilt from a sloping roof. Would basic errors like these be tolerated in language or music?

*not really a fair example, since I vividly remember my teacher in primary school actually teaching everyone that the posts stay vertical as they turn a corner. Still, I think that the point stands (how many schools run remedial drawing classes?).

Have a look here at an excellent poster on the value of music....

Womanspace, Nature, and the Immune Storm

Ed gazes into Womanspace ... and Womenspace gazes back into Ed.
Ed Rybicki's gentle science fiction piece entitled  "Womanspace"  (recently published in Nature) has generated a huge storm of protest. Here we see Ed enjoying his Nietzsche moment as he sees himself reflected in Womanspace.

See Ed at his computer.....

New electromagnetic spectrum images

EM Spectrum: IR Visible Light UV
I've just finished a set of images showing wavelengths of visible light, many with infrared and ultraviolet on either side. See them on my Pictures of Optics, Light & Colour Gallery. They show waves that differ in wavelength by 50nm, making this a linear array. This is different from how the EM spectrum is usually shown, but I think that it makes things easier to visualise (at least for this narrow band of wavelengths). To give you an idea of scale, an AIDS virus is about 120 nm across. Visible light ranges from about 400 nm to 700 nm, making it too coarse to see viruses, which is why we need an electron microscope to see them.

Buildings Now Look Like Architectural Renderings

As I wander around Canberra, I see new buildings going up everywhere (it changes so much that I feel like I'm in Dark City). The funny thing is, many of these new buildings look just like architectural renderings made real. Everything has that slightly graphic look. Maybe I just spend too long in front of the computer...... However, I was brought up looking at architectural perspectives, so I might be sensitised to this art form.