Sotheby’s employees hold up “Girl with Balloon” by British artist Banksy in London in 2018. (Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

By Jonathan Edwards

The auctioneer slammed his gavel, ending a 2018 bidding war at Sotheby’s in London. For $1.4 million, someone had bought one of street artist Banksy’s most iconic works: a silhouetted girl reaching for a red, heart-shaped balloon as it floats away.

Right then, the painting started beeping inside the packed auction house, and a secret shredder Banksy had built into the bottom of the picture frame whirred to life. Onlookers watched — eyes widening, mouths dropping — as “Girl With Balloon” slid down into its blades, slicing the bottom half of the canvas into dangling strips.

“The urge to destroy is also a creative urge,” Banksy wrote, quoting Pablo Picasso, in an Instagram post after the event.


Art prankster Banksy shredded a framed canvas at a London auction on Oct. 5, 2018. Moments before, the artwork sold for $1.4 million. (Reuters)


On Thursday, three years after Banksy’s act of destructive creation, the anonymous buyer put up for auction “Girl With Balloon,” or rather, its successor — the retitled “Love Is in the Bin.” After nine bidders battled for 10 minutes, the semi-shredded artwork sold for $25.4 million. That’s more than three times the auction house’s top estimate going into Thursday’s auction and more than 18 times what the spray-paint-on-canvas creation sold for in 2018 when it was intact.

“It has been a whirlwind to follow the journey of this now legendary piece and to have it back in our midst, offering it tonight in the very room it was created by the artist,” said Alex Branczik, Sotheby’s chairman of modern and contemporary art.

The prank was “a brilliant comment on the art market,” London art dealer Acoris Andipa told the New York Times in 2018, adding that if he were the buyer, he would leave the painting in semi-shredded condition. “It‘s a part of art history.”

BBC News arts editor Will Gompertz called the stunt “brilliant in both conception and execution” in its indictment of the art world, one in which people aren’t disappointed that a piece of art was destroyed but concerned only with how that destruction has changed its value as an “asset.”

A Banksy painting sold at auction for $1.4 million — then automatically shredded itself

To highlight this, Gompertz said, Banksy staged “an attention-grabbing spectacle [the shredding] taking place within an attention-grabbing spectacle [the auction], which highlighted through dark satire how art has become an investment commodity to be auctioned off to ultra-wealthy trophy-hunters.”

~~~ CONTINUE ~~~

Why Life Is Absurd By RIVKA WEINBERG ~ NYT

A Consideration of Time, Space, Relativity, Meaning and Absurdity (Yep, All of It)

I. Relativity

DZIGAN: Professor Einstein said, “In the world, there is time. And just as there is time, there is another thing: space. Space and time, time and space. And these two things,” he said, “are relative.”

Do you know what “relative” means?

SHUMACHER: Sigh. Nu? The point? Continue.

DZIGAN: There is no person these days who doesn’t know what “relative” means. I will explain it to you with an analogy and soon you will also know. Relativity is like this: If you have seven hairs on your head, it’s very few but if you have seven hairs in your milk, it’s very many.[1]


II. Absurdity

In the 1870s, Leo Tolstoy became depressed about life’s futility. He had it all but so what? In “My Confession,” he wrote: “Sooner or later there will come diseases and death (they had come already) to my dear ones and to me, and there would be nothing left but stench and worms. All my affairs, no matter what they might be, would sooner or later be forgotten, and I myself should not exist. So why should I worry about these things?”

Life’s brevity bothered Tolstoy so much that he resolved to adopt religious faith to connect to the infinite afterlife, even though he considered religious belief “irrational” and “monstrous.” Was Tolstoy right? Is life so short as to make a mockery of people and their purposes and to render human life absurd?

In a famous 1971 paper, “The Absurd,” Thomas Nagel argues that life’s absurdity has nothing to do with its length. If a short life is absurd, he says, a longer life would be even more absurd: “Our lives are mere instants even on a geological time scale, let alone a cosmic one; we will all be dead any minute. But of course none of these evident facts can be what makes life absurd, if it is absurd. For suppose we lived forever; would not a life that is absurd if it lasts 70 years be infinitely absurd if it lasted through eternity?”

This line of reasoning has a nice ring to it but whether lengthening an absurd thing will relieve it of its absurdity depends on why the thing is absurd and how much you lengthen it. A longer life might be less absurd even if an infinite life would not be. A short poem that is absurd because it is written in gibberish would be even more absurd if it prattled on for longer. But, say I decided to wear a skirt so short it could be mistaken for a belt. On my way to teach my class, a colleague intercepts me:

“Your skirt,” she says, “is absurd.”

“Absurd? Why?” I ask.

“Because it is so short!” she replies.

“If a short skirt is absurd, a longer skirt would be even more absurd,” I retort.

Now who’s being absurd? The skirt is absurd because it is so short. A longer skirt would be less absurd. Why? Because it does not suffer from the feature that makes the short skirt absurd, namely, a ridiculously short length. The same goes for a one-hour hunger strike. The point of a hunger strike is to show that one feels so strongly about something that one is willing to suffer a lack of nourishment for a long time in order to make a point. If you only “starve” for an hour, you have not made your point. Your one-hour hunger strike is absurd because it is too short. If you lengthened it to one month or one year, you might be taken more seriously. If life is absurd because it’s short, it might be less absurd if it were suitably longer.

Absurdity occurs when things are so ill-fitting or ill-suited to their purpose or situation as to be ridiculous, like wearing a clown costume to a (non-circus) job interview or demanding that your dog tell you what time it is. Is the lifespan of a relatively healthy and well-preserved human, say somewhere between 75 and 85, so short as to render it absurd, ill-suited to reasonable human purposes?


III. Time

Time, as we all knew before Einstein elaborated, is relative. It flies when we are having fun; it “creeps in this petty pace from day to day” when we are wracked with guilt. Five minutes is too short a time to explain Einstein’s theory of relativity but it’s just the right length of time for the Dzigan and Shumacher routine about it. Our perception of time is relative to space, yes, but also to purpose, to other spans of time, to task and probably to other things I have not thought of.

To assess whether human life is usually too short, consider human aims and purposes. People are commonly thought to have two central concerns: love and work. So much has been written about how little time there is to do both that we need not elaborate. Suffice it to say that when people ask me how I manage to be a philosopher, mother, teacher, wife, writer, etc., the answer is obvious: by doing everything badly. We could abandon love or abandon work, but giving up one fundamental human pursuit in order to have time for a better shot at the other leaves us with, at best, half a life. And even half a life is not really accessible to most of us — life is too short for work alone.

By the time we have an inkling about what sort of work we might enjoy and do well, most of us have little time to do it. By the time we figure anything out, we are already losing our minds.

~~~  READ MORE  ~~~


By Brandon Miller and Judson Jones, CNN

Updated 2:41 PM ET, Thu October 14, 2021


Winter weather, ongoing drought conditions and even the remainder of hurricane season will see impacts from a recent cooling of sea surface temperatures in the Pacific. La Niña conditions — the opposite phase of El Niño — have emerged in the tropical Pacific Ocean over the past month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center said ThursdayLa Niña typically brings conditions that are wetter and cooler than average to the Pacific Northwest and northern Plains, especially during the winter.

In contrast, La Niña means drier and warmer-than-average conditions usually prevail in the South. This could mean the drought-stricken Southwest will likely stay drier. (La Niña also was present last winter and worsened the drought situation across the West and Southwest.)

The Southeast is also typically drier during a La Niña winter, though before the season starts, it increases the possibility for tropical weather, including hurricanes. 

La Niña will persist through winter in the US

La Niña — translated from Spanish as “little girl”– is a natural ocean-atmospheric phenomenon marked by cooler-than-average sea surface temperatures across the central and eastern Pacific Ocean near the equator that consequently impact weather across the world.

“La Niña is anticipated to affect temperature and precipitation across the United States during the upcoming months,” the center said as it issued a La Niña advisory Thursday, predicting conditions are present and expected to remain. California’s Alisal Fire threatens power outages, prompts evacuations and sparks concerns over Ronald Reagan’s Rancho del CieloThe advisory replaces the La Niña Watch, which indicated favorable conditions for development that had been in place since July.NOAA will release its winter outlook October 21, and the presence of La Niña is expected to weigh heavily in the forecast for the season. The prediction center put the odds near 90% that La Niña would be in place through the winter of 2021-2022.Both La Niña and El Niño occur every three to five years on average, according to NOAA.

La Niña and the climate crisis

While El Niño and La Niña events are regular aspects of global weather patterns, increased global temperatures may temper or change their effects.La Niña tends to pull down global temperatures, but in recent years, the planet has warmed so fast, it’s like hitting a small speed bump at 80 mph — it barely even registers.18 weather and climate disasters this year have killed over 500 people and cost over $100 billion in US

It’s likely too early to know how climate change will affect those patterns; research is beginning to show how a warming climate may amplify the effects of El Niño and La Niña. Climate change could increase the severity of weather events stemming from El Niño and La Niña patterns, according to a 2018 study on atmospheric conditions that ran simulations of climate conditions.Top spots on the warmest-years list used to be reserved for the strong El Niño years, but human influences have long since overwhelmed the planet’s natural temperature regulators. For instance, La Niña was present during parts of 2020, but the year still tied with 2016 (an El Niño year) as the hottest on record for the plane



La Niña is back. Here’s what that means ~ THE WASHINGTON POST

The atmospheric and oceanic pattern will have a bearing on the Western drought, the end of hurricane season and the forecast for winter and spring

Global sea surface temperature anomalies in degrees Celsius. (Climate Reanalyzer)

By Matthew CappucciYesterday at 2:22 p.m. EDT

After a months-long period of relative atmospheric balance between El Niño and La Niña, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Thursday that La Niña has returned. It’s expected to stick around in some capacity through the winter and relax toward spring.

The intensifying La Niña should peak in magnitude, or strength, by the end of 2021, having bearings on the drought in the West, the end of hurricane season and the upcoming winter. La Niña also plays a role in shaping how tornado season pans out in the spring.

Frigid West, warm East: Continent divided between clash of seasons

It’s one of many drivers in our atmosphere, but it is often among the most important given the extent to which it shuffles other atmospheric features key in determining how weather evolves over the Lower 48.

In brief, here are some of the key impacts La Niña could have in the coming months:


  • Extending favorable conditions for Atlantic hurricane activity this fall.
  • Worsening drought conditions in the Southwest through the winter and potentially elevating the fire risk through the fall.
  • Raising the odds of a cold, stormy winter across the northern tier of the United States and a mild, dry winter across the South.
  • Increasing tornado activity in the Plains and South during the spring.

La Niña is the opposite of El Niño, which often makes headlines for spurring powerful southern storms that can generate beneficial rains in California and track across the entire nation. During La Niña, such winter storms tend to be less frequent.

About six weeks remain until the start of meteorological winter (Dec. 1), and forecasters are already looking ahead to what may be in store. There’s still a long way to go before the first flakes fly in most places, but some meteorologists are already tossing their hats in the ring, trying to broadly gauge what lurks ahead.

Want to get a morning briefing straight to your phone? Text JOIN to 63706 to sign up.

What is La Niña?

A schematic for a traditional La Niña. (

La Niña begins with a cooling of waters in the eastern tropical Pacific. The basin alternates between El Niño and La Niña every two to seven years on average. That pocket of cooler ocean water chills the air above it, inducing a broad sinking motion. It’s that subsidence, or downwelling of cool air, that topples the first atmospheric domino.

During La Niña winters, high pressure near the Aleutian chain shoves the polar jet stream north over Alaska, maintaining an active storm track there. The Last Frontier often ends up cooler than average. The confluence of the polar and Pacific jet streams, as shown in the image above, helps drag some of that cold air across the Pacific Northwest and adjacent parts of the northern Plains.

That keeps the northern United States anomalously wet, while the South is left largely warm and dry. This is bad news for California and other parts of the Southwest, which are enduring a historic drought. The persistence of warm, dry conditions would cause the drought to worsen and potentially prolong the fire season.

La Niña arrived in fall 2020 before fading away in May 2021. Neutral conditions, bridging the divide between La Niña and El Niño, prevailed through the early fall before the NOAA’s declaration of La Niña’s return Thursday.

La Niña tends to exert a slight cooling effect on global temperatures, but recent La Niña years are warmer than El Niño years were just a decade ago because of the warming influences of human-caused climate change. Even with La Niña influencing global temperatures, 2021 still has a greater than 99 percent chance to rank among the top 10 warmest years on record, according to the NOAA.

~~~ CONTINUE ~~~

Cotten Tote Crisis


A laundry line of cotton totes accumulated by a single person since the race to replace plastic began.Credit…Suzie Howell for The New York Times

Earth-friendly? Not exactly. It turns out the wholehearted embrace of cotton totes may actually have created a new problem.

An organic cotton tote needs to be used 20,000 times to offset its overall impact of production, according to a 2018 study by the Ministry of Environment and Food of Denmark. That equates to daily use for 54 years — for just one bag. According to that metric, if all 25 of her totes were organic, Ms. Berry would have to live for more than a thousand years to offset her current arsenal. (The study has not been peer-reviewed.)

~~~ CONTINUE ~~~

Mountain Home … The Wilderness Poetry of Ancient China


Brothers and Sisters,
We danced in the sunlight all summer and stood in stunned awe by the autumn brilliance. But now, It’s Coming. Soon all the leaves will fly away. The season of the Gloaming, when the Irish black dog of depression can come shit on your doorstep, when the duskiness at 4PM can lead one to contemplating single malts or Baja beaches, when facing 
another long winter challenges our fiction of being High Altitude Heros. But just at this juncture of seasons, of our lives, we pull down from a top shelf David Hinton’s Mountain Home,  The Wilderness Poetry of Ancient China. 

Crédito total, Edgar Boyles
David Hinton

Many to most of the poems, as was the aesthetic of that form, deal with this time of autumnal change and the reflection it offers to those who choose to wander in wilderness. A deep gasho to sensi Jerry Roberts for offering up a selection of these ancient poems as this time of The Gloaming ensues.

Roshi Edgar Boyles


T’ao Ch’ien (365-427)

Cita del miércoles

We sometimes underestimate how uncomfortable it can be to honestly face what the Buddha called the three marks of reality: the impermanent, unreliable, and uncontrollable nature of everything.

crédito total, Edgar Boyles