Showing newest 27 of 83 posts from November 2010. Show older posts
Showing newest 27 of 83 posts from November 2010. Show older posts

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Kind of an Ode to Duty (1935)

By Ogden Nash (1902-1971)

O Duty,
Ogden Nash
Why hast thou not the visage of a sweetie or a cutie?
Why glitter thy spectacles so ominously?
Why art thou clad so abominously?
Why art thou so different from Venus
And why do thou and I have so few interests mutually in common between us?
Why art thou fifty per cent martyr
And fifty-one per cent Tartar?

Why is it thy unfortunate wont
To try to attract people by calling on them either to leave undone the deeds they like, or to do the deeds they don’t?
Why are thou so like an April post-mortem
On something that died in the ortumn?
Above all, why dost thou continue to hound me?
Why art thou always albatrossly hanging around me?

Thou so ubiquitous,
And I so iniquitous.
I seem to be the one person in the world thou art perpetually preaching at who or to who;
Whatever looks like fun, there art thou standing between me and it, calling yoo-hoo.
O Duty, Duty!
How noble a man should I be hadst thou the visage of a sweetie or a cutie!
Wert thou but houri instead of a hag
Then would my halo indeed be in the bag!
But as it is thou art so much forbiddinger than a Wodehouse hero’s forbiddingest aunt
That in the words of the poet, When Duty whispers low, Thou must, this erstwhile youth replies, I just can’t.

Broadcasting Hate—

Viewing time 10 min.

A tip of the Hokumburg Homburg to Bob of Gumm Creek for alerting us to this video, which—minus the somewhat intrusive text—was part of an installment of Bill Moyers Journal in July, 2009.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Keynes for Tea Partiers Dummies:

—Jim Morin, Miami Herald, via McClatchy.

The Jill and Julia Show

Singer/songwriter Jill Sobule and solo performer/actress Julia Sweeney.
Viewing time 6 min. 18 sec.

From TED: Ideas Worth Spreading.

About TED, from their website: "TED is a small nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader. Along with two annual conferences -- the TED Conference in Long Beach and Palm Springs each spring, and the TEDGlobal conference in Oxford UK each summer -- TED includes the award-winning TEDTalks video site, the Open Translation Project and Open TV Project, the inspiring TED Fellows and TEDx programs, and the annual TED Prize."

Waiting for a Fish—

We have been under the weather these last few days, Hokumburg, so we are offering this overwrought and perhaps overly sentimental chestnut from a few years back. We hope to be back in the fray in a day or two and hope this will suffice until such time. It is only a story, and stories should never be told the same way twice, and I would probably tell it different today. But it is, as they say, what it is.

When my Grandfather died he left me a rusty fishing tackle box, an old battered Stanley thermos, and a river full of memories.

I remember many a time we drifted lazy with the current in the jon boat, sunlight dancing across the ripples our lines made on the quiet surface, so I had to squinch up my eyes to keep the sparkles from blinding me. And I remember Grandpa poking through his tackle box, pulling out a snarl of hooks and feathers, shaking out the tangles a good five minutes until only one lure remained in his hand, and then holding that lure up for my inspection. Then, with his glasses on the tip of his nose so he could look down over the top of them at me in the other end of the boat, he'd begin to reel out a tale about the apocalyptic battles he'd fought using "this very same green scazzywaggler you see before you" in his never-ending quest to hook and land his mortal nemesis, Ol' Gaspar.

I smiled inside me.

Maybe my Uncle Jim was right about Grandpa always casting his line a little ways downstream of where the rest of us fished. You see, according to Grandpa, Ol' Gaspar was an ancient pike who prowled the shadows beneath the south bank of his favorite spot 'neath the bluffs. In time Grandpa came to believe that this fish had somehow swum down here from the Great Lakes during the Wisconsin glaciation nearly 10,000 years ago. Apparently, when the ice finally retreated northward, Ol' Gaspar had grown so fond of the Ozark climate that he decided to take up permanent residence.

Now a 10,000-year-old fish is strange enough for most people in its own right, but over the years, to my Grandpa, Ol' Gaspar became much more than just a particularly old fish. In his mind, this specific fish took on an

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The View from Camberwell—

George Bernard Shaw
From the-more-things-change department: We found this at Andrew Sullivan's blog for The Atlantic. It is from George Bernard Shaw's play Geneva, written in 1938. It reminded us of someone and we wondered if it would do the same for our readers.

"What an amazing young woman! You really think she will get in?"

"Of course she will. She has courage, sincerity, good looks, and big publicity...Everything our voters love."

"But she hasn't a political idea in her head..[S]he is a complete ignoramus. She will give herself away everytime she opens her mouth."

"Not at all. She will say pluckily and sincerely just what she feels and thinks. You heard her say that there are lots of people in Camberwell who feel and think as she does. Well, the House of Commons is exactly like Camberwell in that respect."

Can you see Russia from Camberwell? Just wondering.

Frank Cotham, The New Yorker in 2007

Never thought about achievements—

If asked us to make a list of those who we most admired and who had most influenced our world for the better, both of these giants would be near the top.
Eleanor Roosevelt at home, interviewed by Edward R. Murrow for Person to Person in 1954.
Viewing time 14 minutes.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Huxley vs Orwell

To see the rest of this cartoon click here.

Goombah America

"Family walking on highway, five children. Started from Idabel, Oklahoma. Bound for Krebs, Oklahoma. Pittsburg County, Oklahoma. In 1936 the father farmed on thirds and fourths at Eagleton, McCurtain County, Oklahoma. Was taken sick with pneumonia and lost farm. Unable to get work on Work Prjects Administration and refused county relief in county of fifteen years residence because of temporary residence in another county after his illness."
—June, 1938
—Photographer Dorothea Lange.
—FSA Collection, Library of Congress.

Details of above photo [Click any image to enlarge]
—Tom Toles, Washington Post.

Squib of the Day, November 27th, 2010:

“If you’re not on top of technology, you’re not going to be on top of the world.”
—John McMullen, retired criminal investigator, quoted in "Growing Up digital, Wired for Distraction," by Matt Richtel, New York Times.

There are so many unintended ironies in Mr. McMullen's claim that it's hard to know where to start. In the context of the Times piece, he seems to be defending his son Sean's addiction to video games. Sean, a student at Woodside High School, spends four hours after school each day playing online video games and twice that amount on weekends. Throw in time spent on Facebook and texting and surfing for videos on YouTube and you begin to see why Sean’s grades have nosedived recently. Never mind getting on top of the world, the technology has gotten on top of Sean. And he’s fairly typical of high-school students these days.

Technology almost always has consequences. Since the beginning of the industrial revolution there has seldom been an instance of a particular technology improving the general condition of our lives without consequences. Maybe plumbing. Certainly indoor plumbing beats the hell out of pump handles and chamber pots—it’s hard to find any negatives

Friday, November 26, 2010

Squail of the Day

Speech and glasses case
on display at TR's birthplace
in New York City.
From Wikipedia: "While Roosevelt was campaigning in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on October 14, 1912, a saloonkeeper named John Schrank shot him, but the bullet lodged in his chest only after penetrating both his steel eyeglass case and passing through a thick (50 pages) single-folded copy of the speech he was carrying in his jacket. Roosevelt, as an experienced hunter and anatomist, correctly concluded that since he wasn't coughing blood, the bullet had not completely penetrated the chest wall to his lung, and so declined suggestions he go to the hospital immediately. Instead, he delivered his scheduled speech with blood seeping into his shirt. He spoke for 90 minutes."
X-ray of Roosevelt's chest, showing bullet lodged in rib cage.
"It takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose," he said as he began his speech.
Colonel Roosevelt, the long awaited third volume in Edmund Morris's biography of TR (1858-1919) has arrived. If you've read the first two, you'll want to read this one. Love him or hate him, Teddy's life as a cowboy, writer, boxer, environmentalist, Naval historian, mountain climber, ornithologist, Sunday school teacher, soldier, big-game hunter, and President was one death-defying adventure after another.
Read a review by Ken Burns collaborator Geoffrey Ward here.

Yellow Paint—

While trying to recover from last nights feast (will we ever learn?), we spent an hour this morning watching videos of the late Nobel-prize-winning physicist, Richard Feynman. Not your typical hair of the dog. But then, after watching half a dozen or so of those, we accidentally stumbled upon these two guys, and we have no idea who they are. But they were definitely Feynman's intended audience.
Viewing time seven minutes:


Rod Serling: Where do ideas come from?
Viewing time one minute:

Full episodes of Serling's The Twilight Zone (the original—accept no substitutes) can be viewed here.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Running in the house—
Random Thoughts on Thanksgivings Past and Present

When I was a child, Thanksgiving was always my least favorite holiday of the year. Oh sure, I liked it just fine that we got a long weekend away from school, for I was always a very poor student—the epitome of Shakespeare's "whining schoolboy, with his satchel and shining morning face, creeping like snail unwillingly to school," though I don't recall my face as shining and it was mourning rather than morning. Otherwise he's captured a good likeness of my young, unwilling, snailish self. I'm not sure as to the cause of my bad opinion of school, especially given that I have spent most of my years—since being impolitely asked to vacate the grounds of Hokumburg High School, permanently—trying to sate an unquenchable hunger for knowledge. But in that time I have taken the odd class here and there with the same kind of dread, always glad of the long weekend at Thanksgiving, while at the same time not overly eager to sit down at the table and actually give thanks.

But these over the years I have begun to see things differently and come to believe that in this, as in so many other things, I have been the constant fool. These past few weeks I've been remembering family, and friends who were once like family, who are no longer with us at the table.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Reason to be Thankful #174:

—Rex Babin, Sacramento Bee, via McClatchy

Goombah America

Marion Post Wolcott
 "Second and third grade children being made up for their Negro song and dance at May Day-Health Day festivities. Ashwood Plantations, South Carolina." May, 1939
—Photographer Marion Post Wolcott (1910-1990).
Details of above photo [click any image to enlarge].


That Express Train Thing—
Duke Ellington makes a record (1937)

Ivie Anderson
Ivie Anderson (1905-1949), arguably the best vocalist Ellington ever had, makes an appearance at the end. She sang with the band for eleven years before chronic asthma forced her to retire in 1942.

Viewing time 5 minutes.

Dogma and Ignorance—
Squib of the Day, November 24th, 2010:

Charles Darwin
 "Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science. "
—Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man (1871)

Bronowski at Auschwitz
 "This is the concentration camp and crematorium at Auschwitz. This is where people were turned into numbers. Into this pond were flushed the ashes of some four million people. And that was not done by gas. It was done by arrogance, it was done by dogma, it was done by ignorance. When people believe that they have absolute knowledge, with no test in reality, this is how they behave."
—Jacob Bronowski (1908-1974), The Ascent of Man (1973)

Thomas Kuhn
There is, of course, no guarantee that knowledge will insure wisdom, and wisdom is, of course, more than just a conglomeration of scientific facts. And often we encounter same infuriating arrogance and dogmatic narrow-mindedness blinding scientists and layman alike to their own irrational faith in an outmoded idea until the overwhelming preponderance of evidence causes them to switch faiths, as it were—either that or they gradually die off to be replaced by those with younger and more flexible minds. In The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Thomas Kuhn, unintentionally creating one of the most misused terms in the language, called such a switch of scientific allegiance a "paradigm shift."

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Elemetary, my dear Watson...

Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) talks about his most famous creation and the world's greatest detective: Sherlock Holmes.
Viewing time 10 minutes.

Theatrical poster
for The Jazz Singer
 Doyle was filmed in 1927, the same year The Jazz Singer, the first full length motion picture with synchronized sound, was released. We're not sure how they managed the sound in this film, but we're glad they did.

Ernie Isley on Jimi Hendrix

Hendrix as a member of the Isley Brothers Band
with his first white Strat, which they bought for him
Vernon Reid interviews Ernie for The Field Negro's Guide to Art and Culture on website. Ernie talks about when Jimi lived with the Isley family in the early sixties and they bought him his first Stratocaster. Hendrix was Jimmy James in 1963. We got so flummoxed when we found this interview that we neglected to watch the clock. But it must be around a half hour long.

Kamau is one of the funniest comedians around. He has a few videos on his site and on YouTube. Check him out.

Rejecting Hate and Fear—
Squib of the Day: November 23rd, 2010:

Evelyn Beatrice Hall (1896)
by Alfred Agache (1843-1915)
"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."
—Frequently attributed to Voltaire, the quote appears in The Friends of Voltaire (1906) written by Evelyn Beatrice Hall (1868-1919). Hall placed the line in quotes to indicate it as summing up Voltaire's thesis in the Treatise on Tolerance—a paraphrase of his "Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so too."

Voltaire (1694-1778)
Much of who we are, of what we think about such concepts as freedom of religion and speech and democracy, is directly attributable to the eighteenth-century philosophers of Western Europe and, by extension, North America. If we are all products of our time, perhaps there has never been—before or since—a group of men so determined to remake the times into a product of their minds. And they have bequeathed to us a world where thinking for yourself and expressing your thoughts—whether from a soapbox or a blog—won't get you tossed into the Bastille (as happened to Voltaire).

But you can’t force people to think for themselves—that's contrary to

Monday, November 22, 2010

David Fitzsimmons, Cagle Cartoons via The Week.

A Visit With Picasso:

Painting on glass in 1949. Viewing time 2 minutes 35 seconds.

The short film above is excerpted from Visite à Picasso, by the Belgian architect, engraver, painter, screenwriter, television producer, carpet designer, illustrator, and prolific.filmmaker Paul Haesaerts (1901-1974), who inexplicably has no Wikipedia entry in the English language version. For those not in a rush this Monday morning, the entire 20 minute film is immediately below—with English narration.

—These films come to us via Open Culture and The Wall.

Ooze in The Age of Distraction—
Squib of the Day, November 22nd, 2010

The Blob (1958)
"But logic doesn’t apply to Palin. What might bring down other politicians only seems to make her stronger: the malapropisms and gaffes, the cut-and-run half-term governorship, family scandals, shameless lying and rapacious self-merchandising. In an angry time when America’s experts and elites all seem to have failed, her amateurism and liabilities are badges of honor. She has turned fallibility into a formula for success."
—"Could She Reach the Top in 2012? You Betcha," by Frank Rich, New York Times.

When we were growing up in Burnt Duck, in the days before megaplexes, there was a movie theater on Lindbergh Street, the Osage Theater, that showed matinees on Saturday that were aimed at children of a certain age. Monster movies. Stories of alien invasions by mutant insect men or swamp creatures or, our favorite, the great amorphous globs of protoplasmic ooze, rising up out of the sewer looking to swallow

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Goombah America

"Background photo, family of Negro FSA (Farm Security Administration) client, who will participate in tenant purchase program. Caruthersville, Missouri."
August, 1938
Photographer Russell Lee (1903-1986)
FSA Photograph Collection, Library of Congress.

Details of the above photograph [click any image to enlarge].

Newer Posts Older Posts Home