Thursday, December 31, 2015
A Separation (2011)
If Hollywood has ever made a film as morally complex as Asghar Farhadi's A Separation (2011), which the missus and I watched last night thanks to the Pittsford Community Library, I haven't seen it. In fact, I haven't seen anything this morally rich since cutting my teeth on the films of Akira Kurosawa and Ingmar Bergman, and certainly nothing made in the current century.
Hollywood could not make such a film today in our Western religious void. While the themes of the film are indeed universal — Leo Tolstoy's observation that if you "describe your village... you will describe the world" comes to mind — we need to enter the word of Shia Islam to find characters for whom questions of morality and sin are believably real. What's more, while the atheist in his ignorance thinks that religion bestows upon the believer a set of easy answers to life's problems, this film shows the incredible complexity of moral issues; none of the characters is right or wrong, good or bad. Each is wonderfully human.
Well worth a read is the always-enlightening Steve Sailer's review — Tehran Comes to Hollywood. So is that of the late, great Roger Ebert, whose voice, which I often disagreed with, I miss every time I look for a film review — A Separation. And right to observe that in viewing this film "as social commentary, one could infer a conservative agenda," is Martin Tsai in his review — Divorce Iranian Style.
Buffy Sainte-Marie's "Universal Soldier" Performed by First Aid Kit
The great Cree singer-songwriter was featured on today's episode of World Café, in which we heard this Swedish folk-duo's cover her powerful anti-war (and refreshingly anti-warrior) anthem, with sadly updated lyrics:
- He's five foot-two, and he's six feet-four
He's fighting with missiles and with spears
He's all of forty one, and he's only seventeen
Been a soldier for a thousand years
He's a Christian, a Hindu, an Atheist, a Jain,
A Buddhist, and a Muslim, and a Jew
And he knows he shouldn't kill
And he knows he always will
Kill you for me, my friend, and me for you
And he's fighting for Palestine
He's fighting for Israel
He's fighting for the U.S.A.
And he's fighting for Afghanistan
And he's fighting for Iraq
And he thinks we'll put an end to war this way
And he's fighting for Democracy
He's fighting for his soil
He says: "It's for the peace of all"
He's the one who must decide who's to live and who's to die
And he never sees the writing on the wall
But without him how would Hitler have condemned them at Dachau?
Without him Caesar would have stood alone
He's the one who gives his body as a weapon of the war
And without him all this killing can't go on
He's the universal soldier
And he is really is to blame
His orders come from far away no more
They come from here and there, and you and me
And brother, can't you see
This is not the way we put an end to war
Is Attributing Moral Agency to Blacks Now Racist?
Today's Rochester Police Blotter
The above visages appeared in our local rag, the Democrat and Chronicle, this morning, the last day of 2015. All have been arrested for various crimes in recent days. All of them are accuse of violent crimes, against persons and property ranging from murder to assault to burglary, save one, accused of running a moderately successful cannabis agro-business.
Can you guess which one is the pot entrepreneur? [Hint: It's not the guy with glasses, which would be a reasonable guess, since the correlation between myopia and intelligence has been well-established*.] Click on the images to learn their stories.
*See the following peer-reviewed articles: On the correlation of myopia and intelligence; Intelligence, Education, and Myopia in Males; Myopia, Intelligence, and the Expanding Human Neocortex: Behavioral Influences and Evolutionary Implications; Myopia and intelligence:a pleiotropic relationship?; IQ and the Association with Myopia in Children.
Tuesday, December 29, 2015
J.S. Bach's Chromatic Fantasy in D Minor Performed by Mahan Esfahani
Incandescence Is Better
Incandescent light bulbs make prettier Christmas lights, I've concluded after more than a week of nightly walks throughout the neighborhood and beyond. Incandescence alone gives off that warm glow that made Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut (1999) such a pleasure to watch. Stock up before they are criminalized.
PC, FB, & Me
"Say Goodbye to the Mother Continent"
Monday, December 28, 2015
José González Performs "Open Book," "With the Ink of a Ghost" & "Every Age"
Where Have All the Syrian Fighting-Aged Men Gone?
- [T]he vast majority of illegal migrants are young able-boded men without families. And I ask: why do these men not take up arms and fight for the freedom of their own country against the Islamic State?
Their escape objectively strengthens the Islamic State, and I cannot imagine that in the time when the occupation our young men were escaping – they were escaping so that they could, in Great Britain, they received social support. They had escaped so that they could fight for the freedom of their country.
And that, of course, is true for even for those who leave the countries where there is fighting, because their departure sentences these countries to further backwardness.
Sunday, December 27, 2015
"The Coventry Carol" Sung by The Choir of King's College, Cambridge
For tomorrow's Feast of the Holy Innocents (Childermas), the XVIth Century Coventry Carol, a "haunting carol representing a mother's lament for her doomed child" during "the Massacre of the Innocents, in which Herod ordered all male infants under the age of two in Bethlehem to be killed."
Bye, bye, lully, lullay.
Lullay, thou little tiny Child,
Bye, bye, lully, lullay.
O sisters too, how may we do,
For to preserve this day
This poor youngling for whom we do sing
Bye, bye, lully, lullay.
Charged he hath this day
His men of might, in his own sight,
All young children to slay.
That woe is me, poor Child for Thee!
And ever mourn and sigh,
For thy parting neither say nor sing,
Bye, bye, lully, lullay.
Silence, Chant, and the Unspeakable
Oriental Medicinal Herbs Grown in Upstate New York Soil
"As a farmer," says Ms. Rice, "I love the idea of growing something no one else is growing, something that's good for people." Says Jamie Starkey, a licensed practitioner of acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine, "If growers in the U.S. can produce a highest-quality product that is identical to species from China, without contamination from heavy metals or pesticides, I think it's a great opportunity for farmers."
This is a great "back-to-the-land" idea, especially for someone like me with familial and cultural ties to the continent of Asia. Ontario Pear was an inspiration. The idea of "artisanal tofu" still calls. Makgeolli brewing might be just what this region needs. But Chinese herbology sound even better, perhaps coupled with advanced degree from the Finger Lakes School of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.
Saturday, December 26, 2015
J.S. Bach's Süßer Trost mein Jesus Kömmt Performed by the Ricercar Consort Directed by Philippe Pierlot
"The vastness of the universe becomes even more incredible when you consider how very much we still don't know about the immediate vicinity of our own star," writes Rochester City Newspaper's Rebecca Rafferty about the "New Discoveries in Our Solar System" show at the Rochester Museum & Science Center's Strasenburgh Planetarium.
"Pictured is a photograph by the Rosetta space probe of Comet 67P.... passing near the Sun." We also get to see "geysers on a moon of Saturn, more clues about water on Mars, another spacecraft approaching Jupiter, and the latest Pluto pictures downloaded from the New Horizons spacecraft."
Not mentioned and most fascinating of all were the bright spots on Ceres, the brightest objects on the surface of any body in our solar system. The Great Red Spot is no longer as great as it was when I was a kid, but we know a lot more about Europa, not to mention Enceladus.
Ms. Rafferty is right about "how very much we still don't know about the immediate vicinity of our own star." I would go further and say that "the immediate vicinity of our own star" is more fascinating because of its proximity. Exoplanets bore me to no end, but little Ceres never ceases to amaze!
Still, it's important to have a hold on what we can see with the naked eye, and I got a much-needed review of the Night Sky. I have long been able, of course, to use the Big Dipper to find Polaris, an important survival skill. And Orion, Cassiopeia and my favorites the Pleiades are like childhood friends.
After today's review, however, I now know those two stars I've long wondered about were none other than Castor and Pollux, the twin heads of my star sign, and I can now easily find Sirius, a personal favorite due to the Chinese zodiac.
Labels: Astronomy Domine
Reading Between the Lines on a Local Plaque
I got a huge kick out of the above sign at Corbett's Glen Nature Park, a beautiful place for a walk not far from my home that should not have taken me four years to discover! The sign describes the place as "an unofficial recreational area for an entire generation." We learn:
- In the 1970s, local teens referred to the Northern end of Corbett's Glen Nature Park as "The Fields". The area's name was in reference to the natural landscape which consisted primarily of open fields with pockets of wooded areas. At a time before video games, the internet, cable TV, and cell phones, The Fields was a common social gathering place for neighborhood teens.
That said, it's lovely to see that these memories are preserved by a plaque, because they are as real and meaningful as any others. It's also moving to learn how Corbett's Glen Nature Park was almost lost but saved:
- We are lucky to have this park, since Linden Associates wanted to pave the area for industrial use. People of the area fought it and won. Something to (briefly) think about while you admire the park.
Mack Wilberg's Arrangement of John Mason Neale and Thomas Helmore's "Good King Wenceslas" Performed by Jane Seymour, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and Orchestra at Temple Square, Narrated by David Warner
Happy Stephenmas and Boxing Day! This musical number is far too saccharine for my tastes, and at this age I'm not experimenting with LDS, but back in the day, my feelings for Jane Seymour were much the same as the Christopher Reeve character's for hers in Somewhere in Time (1980). As a teenager, the mere thought of her could turn me into a wanker.
Islamic State, 15th Century Version
- In 1480, the Italian city Otranto was invaded by Ottoman forces, who ransacked the town and murdered most of the adult men. The remaining 800 men were asked to renounce their Christian faith. After they refused, they were marched out of town and summarily beheaded. Most women and adolescents were also slaughtered, with the rest pawned off into slavery.
In 1771, the abstainers were beatified as the “martyrs of Otranto” and are now honored as patron saints of that besieged city. Several centuries later, the skulls belonging to the recently canonized (circa 2013) martyrs are now on display in the Cathedral of Otranto.
A greater mystery is why our schools do not teach these episodes in European history but rather focus how "tolerant" the Mohammedan world was at this time in comparison to "barbaric" Christendom, which gave us moderns all the material and political (not to mention spiritual) benefits we enjoy today. Ungrateful children we are.
New Urbanism in Rochester
On My Reading List for 2016
Friday, December 25, 2015
J.S. Bach's Weinachtsoratorium Performed by the Monteverdi Choir and the English Baroque Soloists Directed by Sir John Eliot Gardiner
Peace on Earth to Men of Goodwill
Seneca White Deer Closer to Rescue
Seneca white deer are in the news again this week, and the news is good — Heron Hill Winery owners pledge $200K for white deer effort. Let's all drink to Heron Hill owners John and Josephine Ingle and their efforts. The plan is to "match donations given to Seneca White Deer up to $200,000 from now until Jan. 31." Donate today!
Recent related posts — White Stag and Do Virginia Dare's Descendants Survive in the Finger Lakes?
Paul Gauguin's Te Tamari no Atua
Martin Gayford argues that the great post-impressionist "simply decided to paint a Tahitian Madonna because, in a highly unorthodox fashion, he was a man with religion on his mind" — Why would a dissolute rebel like Paul Gauguin paint a nativity?
Speaking of Polynesian madonnas, I watched The Nativity Story (2006) with the family last night. I thought the half-Māori Keisha Castle-Hughes's was surprisingly lackluster. Upon further reflection, I understood her uninspiring performance was in keeping with the Protestant faith of the film-makers, which sees Mary as almost an unimportant bystander in the story. This is in contrast to the faith of Catholics, among whom are those able to recognize her as Co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix of All Graces, and Advocate.
Of this debased Protestant view of Mary at its worst, America's greatest man of letters wrote, "The Puritans abandoned the New Testament and the Virgin in order to go back to the beginning, and renew the quarrel with Eve" — Henry Adams on the Virgin Mary.
Thursday, December 24, 2015
Morten Johannes Lauridsen's O Magnum Mysterium, Sung by The Choir of King's College, Cambridge
Holy minimalism! A late XXth Century 'merican setting of the ancient Christmas Matins hymn:
et admirabile sacramentum,
ut animalia viderent
jacentem in præsepio!
Beata Virgo, cujus viscera
and wonderful sacrament,
that animals should see
the new-born Lord,
lying in their manger!
Blessed is the Virgin whose womb
was worthy to bear
Christ the Lord.
Sunday, December 20, 2015
Veni, Veni Emmanuel Sung by The King's Singers
Captivum solve Israel,
Qui gemit in exilio,
Privatus Dei Filio
Gaude! Gaude! Emmanuel,
Nascetur pro te, Israel!
Veni, veni, O Oriens;
Solare nos adveniens,
Noctis depelle nebulas,
Dirasque noctis tenebras.
Gaude! Gaude! Emmanuel,
Nascetur pro te, Israel!
Regna reclude caelica;
Fac iter tutum superum,
Et claude vias inferum.
Gaude! Gaude! Emmanuel,
Nascetur pro te, Israel!
Veni, veni Adonai!
Qui populo in Sinai,
Legem dedisti vertice,
In maiestate gloriae.
Gaude! Gaude! Emmanuel,
Nascetur pro te, Israel!
Does a Persecuted Sect Represent Islam?
- “We stand together against a common enemy” of terrorism, said Hamid Malik, an imam, or faith leader, at the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community’s Baitun Naseer Mosque in Rochester. “We stand together to tell them that we will not be divided, and that they will never be successful here.”
“We stand together against a common enemy” of terrorism.” Hamid Malik, Baitun Naseer Mosque imam.
Terrorists linked to the Islamic State group, also referred to as ISIS, use Islam for political gain and take verses of the Islamic holy book, the Quran, out of context, said Bashir.
“Because they use this religion as their backbone, people really think this is true without searching and studying on their own,” he said.
The best thing local Muslims can be doing after tragedies like San Bernardino is serving their neighbors, which shows the true message of the Islamic faith, said Bashir.
Wikipedia tells us that Ahmadiyya "is an Islamic religious movement founded in British India near the end of the 19th century" which "originated with the life and teachings of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835–1908), who claimed to have fulfilled the prophecies of the world's reformer during the end times, who was to herald the eschaton as predicted in the traditions of various world religions and bring about, by peaceful means, the final triumph of Islam as per Islamic prophecy."
We also learn that "Ahmadiyya adherents believe that Ahmad appeared in the likeness of Jesus, to end religious wars, condemn bloodshed and reinstitute morality, justice, and peace," "that upon divine guidance he divested Islam of fanatical and innovative beliefs and practices" and that "Ahmadis view themselves as leading the revival and peaceful propagation of Islam."
The community is "officially estimated to number between 10 and 20 million worldwide" and "Ahmadiyya-specific beliefs have been thought of as opposed to contemporary mainstream Islamic thought since the movement's birth, and some Ahmadis have subsequently faced persecution." Furthermore, "Many orthodox Muslims consider the Ahmadiyya either kafirs or heretics." Persecution of Ahmadis is a page unto itself.
None of this is mentioned in our local newspaper, so the uninformed reader — and it is newspapers jobs to keep readers uninformed — comes away thinking that mainstream Islam, not a minuscule and persecuted sect within the religion, categorically denounces violence and terrorism.
VDARE's editor had this one nailed weeks ago — Kneejerk MSM Reaction # 2: The Religion Of Peace Fake, Ahmadiyya Edition. Posting an Ahmadiyya.us banner that read, ""Love for all/Hatred for None," he wrote, "That is not mainstream Islam. It just isn't."
Importing Rape Culture to Christendom
Alpha Game reports that "some nations take the rape of their young women a little more seriously than others" — Finland on the brink — and that "Britain has imported rape culture" — Convicted. Now repatriate them.
Friday, December 18, 2015
Shakey Graves Performs "To Cure What Ails," "The Perfect Parts" & "Only Son"
"Cities Christmas Tree"
A scene from the city to our east — Dreamy photo of Syracuse's Clinton Square goes viral.
O Diversity! O Vibrancy!
Eight-Hundred and Eighty Years
Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)
Rotten Tomatoes nails it — Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens: Believe the Hype. It was a great to watch this with my kids and their friends, older now than I was when the first film opened when I was seven. I say this stands up to and maybe even surpasses the first. The film starts with a cameo appearance by my all-time favorite actor, Max von Sydow, but it is Daisy Ridley who carries the show. She's also quite easy on the eyes.
Saturday, December 12, 2015
The Oh Hellos Perform "Hello My Old Heart," "Like The Dawn" & "Exeunt"
Of these "buoyant songs whose underpinnings could still be dark and lonely," the blurbist writes, "Some of the music here is from The Oh Hellos' recent second album, Dear Wormwood, which was inspired in part by the writings of C.S. Lewis," referring to The Screwtape Letters, which I finally got around to reading and finishing on my recent travels and which I found incredibly edifying.
"The Creator's Game" — A Living Tradition from the XIIth Century
We're off tonight to see a preseason game of the Rochester Knighthawks, one of the National Lacrosse League's nine teams. Lacrosse, even before St. Jean de Brébeuf in 1637 saw the game near here and named it after the crosier carried by bishops, "was characterized by deep spiritual involvement" and "was said to be played 'for the Creator.'" About a quarter of our local team is Iroquois, mostly from across the border from the Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation, home of the “Champion of Champions PowWow” we attended this past summer.
[Adapted from a two-year-old post — "The Creator's Game" — A Nine-Century-Old Local Sporting Tradition.]
Back From Miami Beach
I've returned from the ICEF conference held in the Miami Beach Architectural District, known for its beautiful Art Deco hotels, mine being the affordable and fantastic Albion Hotel. It was interesting to hear the Castilian language I majored in spoken not by Nuyorican lower classes but by solidly middle- and upper-class Cubans.
Saturday, December 5, 2015
The Americans Perform "Nevada," "Bronze Star," "I'll Be Yours" & "Stowaway"
Friday, December 4, 2015
Lisa Hannigan Performs "Little Bird," "Passenger," "Paper House," "O Sleep," "Flowers," "A Sail," "Safe Travels (Don't Die)," "We, The Drowned," "Knots" & "Lille"
An update on a a recent post of mine — Do Virginia Dare's Descendants Survive in the Finger Lakes? — that has me thinking about the Hunor and Magor story I researched as a kid — Seneca White Deer raising more bucks for bid on old Seneca Army Depot.
John H. McWhorter Speaks Truth to Power — Mob Power
Tuesday, December 1, 2015
Barna Howard Performs "Indiana Rose," "Whistle Show," "Quite A Feelin'" & "Lend Me A Moment"
Axes of Righteousness
- Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt, in his 2012 book The Righteous Mind, argued that the human moral faculty is built around five axes. He gave them names like “Care/Harm”—that is, caring about others is at one end of this axis, harming them at the other. Another axis is “Fairness/Cheating” with fairness at the positive end and cheating at the negative. Later Haidt added a sixth axis. Haidt and his colleagues worked up a Moral Foundations Questionnaire they could give to test subjects, to see where they placed on each axis.
Well, one of these basic axes—Haidt actually calls them “foundations”—is “Sanctity/Degradation.” Haidt argues from the case of the German guy who advertised on the internet for someone willing to be killed, cooked, and eaten by him. [German cannibal tells of fantasy, BBC, December 3, 2003] He got hundreds of responses, interviewed likely applicants, made a selection, then killed and ate the guy—all on video, to prove the thing was totally consensual.
So, Haidt asks, did anyone do anything wrong there? Your answer tells us where you are on the Sanctity/Degradation axis.
It happens that I read Haidt’s book shortly after my own public shaming in April, 2012. Reading about those questionnaire scores, I was shaking my head at the book. It seemed to me that liberals are not so much light on regard for Sanctity, they just attach it to different objects.
To blacks, for example. The late Larry Auster said that blacks are sacred objects in the modern West. He was right. To say negative things about blacks, or to be thought to have negative thoughts about them, is a blasphemy.
It’s like someone in 13th-century Europe speaking ill of the Virgin Mary. The reaction is just the same. You have violated a sacred object.
Labels: Race Matters