Sunday, November 30, 2008
... PROTEUS uses the undersea world as the locus for a meditation on the troubled intersection of scientific and artistic vision. The one-hour film is based almost entirely on the images of nineteenth century painters, graphic artists, photographers and scientific illustrators, photographed from rare materials in European and American collections and brought to life through innovative animation.Haeckel was an accomplished artist and many of his depictions of radiolaria (see e.g. above) are beautiful. Slate also has a "slide-show essay" that focuses on some of the more controversial aspects of his legacy. Although Haeckel has been branded as a "proto-Nazi" and "anti-Semite" by some, Slate's Amanda Schaffer notes:
The central figure of the film is biologist and artist Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919). As a young man, Haeckel found himself torn between seeming irreconcilables: science and art, materialism and religion, rationality and passion, outer and inner worlds. Through his discoveries beneath the sea, Haeckel would eventually reconcile these dualities, bringing science and art together in a unitary, almost mystical vision. His work would profoundly influence not only biology but also movements, thinkers and authors as disparate as Art Nouveau and Surrealism, Sigmund Freud and D.H. Lawrence, Vladimir Lenin and Thomas Edison.
The key to Haeckel's vision was a tiny undersea organism called the radiolarian. Haeckel discovered, described, classified and painted four thousand species of these one-celled creatures ...
Haeckel died in 1919, well before Adolph Hitler came to power. According to historian of science Gordon McOuat, his ideas were as influential among the radical factions opposed to National Socialism—who appreciated Haeckel's anti-authoritarian, anti-religious bent—as they were among the Nazis.The film Proteus also notes that Haeckel's works were banned by the Nazis. On this subject, see also Robert J. Richards' article "Ernst Haeckel’s Alleged Anti-Semitism and Contributions to Nazi Biology," Biological Theory 2 (Winter, 2007): 97-103 and his "Response to Daniel Gasman's Critique".
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Today is the first Sunday of Advent and this song and video, warts and all, offer food for thought.
- Merry Christmas, Bethlehem
- Quotable: The Ghost of Christmas Present
- Merry Christmas, not Exmas
- Jackson Browne's "The Rebel Jesus"
By contrast, the three synoptic gospels all agree that after his baptism Jesus was tempted by the devil/Satan in the wilderness. One of the temptations Satan offered was the "glory" and "authority" of "all the kingdoms of the world." It is interesting that Jesus does not contest the truth of the Satan's claim that "all the kingdoms of the world" had been "given over" to Satan. This is consistent with the general New Testament teaching that the "powers and principalities" are Satan's realm. Thus, Barack Obama is properly cast as just another in the long line of "the kings of the earth" ruling over the ungodly "Domination System."
From "The Race Is on for Hot Job as Obama's Liaison to Nation's Jews":
Speculation about the members of President-elect Barack Obama's Cabinet and other senior staff has drawn headlines -- but there's also no shortage of interest in who will be the next presidential representative to the American Jewish community, or in how much influence that person will have in a White House chock-full of well-known Jews. ...Jews, you may recall, make up less than 2% of the United States' population and with Jews so greatly overrepresented in politics already one wonders why Obama also needs a "presidential representative to the American Jewish community."
How influential the position will be remains a key question, particularly with such prominent Jews working in the White House: incoming chief of staff Rahm Emanuel; David Axelrod, an Obama strategist, and Ron Klain, Vice President-elect Joe Biden's chief of staff.
From "New Congress Has Record Number of Jews":
When the new Congress debuts in January 2009, a record 45 Jews will take the oath of office: 32 in the House of Representatives and -- regardless of the outcome in the still-contested Minnesota election — 13 Jews in the Senate.Jews will, thus, be overrepresented in the House by factor of 4.1 and by 7.3 in the Senate. By contrast, women will be underrepresented in the 111th Congress by factors of 3 in both houses. Similarly, Blacks were underrepresented in the 110th Congress by factors of 1.2 and 12.4 in the House and Senate, respectively.
The "regardless of the outcome" in Minnesota bit is a reference to the fact that both Al Franken and Norm Coleman are Jews and Zionists to boot. This is not unlike the fact that all of the major party nominees for president and and vice president were Zionists or close facsimiles thereof.
From "Chicago Temple Takes New Security in Stride":
On a recent Sunday afternoon at a historic Chicago synagogue, the sanctuary was packed but the mood was restrained: A longtime congregant had died, and about 300 people had turned out for his funeral service. But amid the solemnity, the occasional mourner discreetly pulled loved ones out to the synagogue's front steps to snap cell phone pictures of a large brick house, mostly obscured by shrubs, across the street.
Such scenes have become commonplace in recent months at KAM-Isaiah Israel, a Reform congregation in the Hyde Park neighborhood. The dome of the historic Byzantine-style synagogue looms over the red-brick house where Barack Obama has lived for the past three years, and from which he made the short trip across the street to deliver an early political speech to a Jewish crowd. ...
Inside KAM-II, the two communities are living side by side. On the morning of the funeral, a crowd of mostly older Jewish congregants gathered in the sunny social hall to hear a professor from the nearby University of Chicago speak about Martin Buber and the Arab-Israeli conflict. At the same time, the domed sanctuary was occupied by a small black Christian congregation called City of Faith ... This sort of cross-pollination has touched Obama's life in the neighborhood, as well: His daughters went to preschool at the nearby Akiba-Schechter Jewish Day School.
Several of KAM-II’s congregants and leaders, including the synagogue's emeritus rabbi, Arnold Jacob Wolf, and current president, Larry Bloom, know Obama personally and have supported him from the outset of his political career. ...
Bloom, a former city alderman, said that he used to introduce the candidate to locals on commuter train platforms when he was running for state senate. ...
"This is a congregation where the question wasn't, 'Are you going to vote for Obama?' The question was, 'What state are you going to help canvass?' " said Darryl Crystal, the synagogue's interim rabbi. ...
"When Sarah Palin said she knew about Russia because you could see it from Alaska, I wanted to say, 'Obama can see a synagogue from his house; he obviously knows Jews,' " Bloom said.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Ninety-four percent of Obama voters correctly identified Palin as the candidate with a pregnant teenage daughter, 86% correctly identified Palin as the candidate associated with a $150,000 wardrobe purchased by her political party, and 81% chose McCain as the candidate who was unable to identify the number of houses he owned. When asked which candidate said they could "see Russia from their house," 87% chose Palin, although the quote actually is attributed to Saturday Night Live's Tina Fey during her portrayal of Palin during the campaign. An answer of "none" or "Palin" was counted as a correct answer on the test, given that the statement was associated with a characterization of Palin.John Ziegler, who commissioned the poll and produced the video, makes hay with the results on www.howobamagotelected.com. FWIW, I suspect that ignorance among McCain voters is just as common as it is among Obama voters and Ziegler actually tried to commission a Zogby poll to test that idea but Zogby reportedly refused.
Obama voters did not fare nearly as well overall when asked to answer questions about statements or stories associated with Obama or Biden -- 83% failed to correctly answer that Obama had won his first election by getting all of his opponents removed from the ballot, and 88% did not correctly associate Obama with his statement that his energy policies would likely bankrupt the coal industry. Most (56%) were also not able to correctly answer that Obama started his political career at the home of two former members of the Weather Underground.
Nearly three quarters (72%) of Obama voters did not correctly identify Biden as the candidate who had to quit a previous campaign for President because he was found to have plagiarized a speech, and nearly half (47%) did not know that Biden was the one who predicted Obama would be tested by a generated international crisis during his first six months as President.
In addition to questions regarding statements and scandals associated with the campaigns, the 12-question, multiple-choice survey also included a question asking which political party controlled both houses of Congress leading up to the election -- 57% of Obama voters were unable to correctly answer that Democrats controlled both the House and the Senate.
See also: No, Dear, Barack Obama is NOT The Messiah
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Source: Character of Mr. Rasczak in Paul Verhoeven's 1997 film, Starship Troopers.