Archive for October 2004
… to Hamilton, for at least one Halloween party. I’m thankful that there is at least one website detailing how to tie a Windsor. Now. for the sunglasses.)
The recent discovery of Homo floriensis has, quite understandably, attracted a lot of attention. Phil Hunt, at the Cabalamat Journal, reports that Homo floriensis–known to the locals as the Ebu Gogo might have survived to historical times, even to the present.
It would, of course, be very cool of the Ebu Gogo were still around. Here’s hoping.
From the Atlanta Constitutional-Journal, via Free Republic:
The lesbian daughter of Georgia Christian Coalition leader Sadie Fields, who has led the campaign to add a same-sex marriage ban to the state constitution, has come out strongly against the measure just days before Tuesday’s referendum.
In a highly personal public letter to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s editorial page, Tess Fields also criticized what she called her mother’s “bigotry” and “abject hostility toward gay and lesbian people.”
Tess Fields, a 35-year-old mother who lives in Oregon, said in an interview that she was speaking out partly to answer an opinion piece her mother wrote in Monday’s Journal-Constitution, and partly to offer encouragement to people opposing the amendment.
The letter also illustrates the painful relationship the daughter has with her mother. She writes that the first split with her mother occurred when she was in seventh grade and her mother told her that a Jewish friend “will go to hell” if she did not accept Christ.
Sadie Fields found out when Tess was 24 that her daughter was a lesbian, she wrote. “My mother came over to where I worked, screaming, and told me I was ‘dead’ to the family. She called me ‘sick,’ ‘crazy,’ and ‘of the devil,’ ” Tess Fields wrote.
Sadie Fields was clearly surprised to learn of her daughter’s letter from a reporter Thursday night. In an emotional interview, she said her daughter’s sexuality and their strained relationship is deeply painful for her. The Christian Coalition leader, who also has two sons, said that she loves her daughter and prays for her daily.
What I said on the 17th.
At Grey Region, I came across an interesting graphic novel, the assembled issues of The Authority‘s Coup d’Etat series.
Brief outline: Using dangerous and not-entirely-understood alien technology, a splinter faction in the United States government engages in some experiments. Unfortunately, the technology in question accidentally brings a vast alien starship crashing down onto Florida, turning the peninsula into an archipelago, killing two million or so people, and incidentally giving a casus belli to a vastly more advanced alien species. The Authority–a team of superheroes–is outraged by this spectacularly reckless behaviour, so much so that they announce that they are suspending constitutional government until such time as they feel satisfied that no one will inadvertantly threaten the existence of the human species.
It’s apparently fairly controversial. Certainly it has fairly clear parallels to the common left-wing criticisms of Bush. I wonder if the President was a Republican? Still, it’s interesting, in that like The Watchmen, when the allegiance of Dr. Manhattan (who could exercise complete control over matter) to the United States gave the Cold War a particularly explosive quality, superheroes actually have a noticeable impact on the way that the world actually works.
I was left stunned by my viewing of Girl With a Pearl Earring; so stunned, in fact, that I failed to post it. Here is my promised and long-awaited review.
The environment of the mid-17th century Dutch Republic struck me as quite modern, even in a provincial area like Delft. The protagonist’s father is blinded from his career as a painter of Dutch tiles for export; the protagonist works in a prosperous urban home; efficient overlapping local and global networks of trade supply consumers with everything from freshly-butchered meet to the rarest pigments; print and paintings communicate text and image as precisely as possible for indefinitely periods of time, long after the sounds of spoken words and fleeting glimpses would have faded; interactions between individuals are pragmatic, based on desires for individual benefit.
I was last struck by this sort of feeling, of an abortive anachronism undermined by my knowledge, in April of 2003 when I visited the Gardiner Museum of Ceramics. The descriptions of the intensive research programs initiated by Britain, by France, by the German states, as they sought first to replicate then to cheaply imitate the advanced Chinese technology of porcelain echoed tellingly so many of our own time’s catch-up efforts in specific industries and entire countries. The Dutch Republic, as Simon Schama describes in his The Embarrassment of Riches, was the test platform for modernity as early as the 17th century. Perhaps this innovativeness was a product of multiple factors: its advanced commercial culture; its religious diversity and necessary tolerance; its origins in a conscious effort of nationbuilding. For whatever reason, watching Girl With A Pearl Earring I was strongly reminded of my time at the Gardiner. Veritably Third World as Vermeer’s Delft might have been, the basic contours of life were still recognizable to me.
The cinematography was superb. Vermeer, like the other painters in the glory years of the Dutch Republic, was concerned with preserving as close a semblance of reality as possible to his buyers. Likewise, the directors took great care to ensure that the movie’s colour palette and the camera’s framing of scenes replicated the reality of Vermeer’s Delft as closely as humanly possible, down to the minutest of tones, even as each individual scene was made a self-contained complete work in itself. The movie was a visual pleasure to watch.
One thing of crucial importance to the plot was the importance of the gaze of Scarlett Johanson’s maid, looking outwards towards the viewer.