Looks Like Me But Isn't

Looks Like Me But Isn't

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Mysteries of Red

A recent article about a study on the effect of red on men got me thinking about all things red. I would never wear red. Well not a full article of clothing like a coat, shirt or pants. I could probably not be bothered by red pinstripes or some other minor detail with red but that's it. The men studied found photos with a woman in red or with a red border more attractive. Here is the link.

The woman in red drives the men crazy, study finds

Would I be more attracted to a woman dressed in red driving a Little Red Corvette?

Red can symbolize hot, war, stop, sin, passion, anger, lust and communism, so what is the woman in red driving the red corvette telling me? Of course all this symbolist monologue about the woman in red gets into even more mysterious waters if she is Japanese or Chinese.

Red in Japan

And what if she is a Japanese physicists? I would still be turned on even while she tried to explain to my mathematically impoverished mind the special relativistic redshift formula and its difference from the general relativistic one.

I leave you with a poet who, probably, would have never worn red except when she blushed.

Good Morning—Midnight—
I'm coming Home—
Day—got tired of Me—
How could I—of Him?

Sunshine was a sweet place—
I liked to stay—
But Morn—didn't want me—now—

I can look—can't I—
When the East is Red?
The Hills—have a way—then—
That puts the Heart—abroad—

You—are not so fair—Midnight—
I chose—Day—
But—please take a little Girl—
He turned away!

Emily Dickinson

Now playing: The White Stripes - Red Rain
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Sunday, October 19, 2008

What Do the Right Wing Conservatives Have in Common With an Italian Communist?

It's pretty much a fact that the right wing has been hating the media ever since that televised debate between Nixon and Kennedy. That there is bias, I agree. I also don't find it a bad thing to have biases, although one should be aware of them, not so much for any sentimentalists feelings of objectivity but so that you can take the most advantage of your bias.

I definitely don't think a journalist should invent facts or tell lies. Having a bias does not imply these things. What it does imply is a selection of the facts reported; interpretation of those facts; and a selection of support. Saying that, I think it's entirely fair and democratic to have media outlets that satisfy the different points of view.

What I find funny in all this is that it was Antonio Gramci who theorized aboout having communists trying to wrest some space in the media monopoly to present their views. I doubt Palin, Limbaugh, Coulter and company would smile about it however, I love historic irony.

Below you can read an excerpt of an article by Antonio Gramci. Just make the appropriate changes to make it work for the right wing or any other bias out there you most prefer.

Newspapers and the Workers

Source: Avanti! (Piedmont Edition) December 22, 1916;
Translated: by Mitchell Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike)
marxists.org 2008.

These are the days of subscription campaigns. The editors and administrators of bourgeois newspapers tidy up their display windows, paint some varnish on their shop signs and appeal for the attention of the passer-by (that is, the readers) to their wares. Their wares are newspapers of four or six pages that go out every day or evening in order to inject in the mind of the reader ways of feeling and judging the facts of current politics appropriate for the producers and sellers of the press.

We would like to discuss, with the workers especially, the importance and seriousness of this apparently innocent act, which consists in choosing the newspaper you subscribe to. It is a choice full of snares and dangers which must be made consciously, applying criteria and after mature reflection.

Above all, the worker must resolutely reject any solidarity with a bourgeois newspaper. And he must always, always, always remember that the bourgeois newspaper (whatever its hue) is an instrument of struggle motivated by ideas and interests that are contrary to his. Everything that is published is influenced by one idea: that of serving the dominant class, and which is ineluctably translated into a fact: that of combating the laboring class. And in fact, from the first to the last line the bourgeois newspaper smells of and reveals this preoccupation.

Now playing: Jane's Addiction - Whores
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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Twain and Creationism

I have been going back to my origins and reading Mark Twain after a twenty year separation from him. This will be the first in an undetermined number of posts that seek to showcase some of the wit and intelligence of Mark Twain on issues that continue to be relevant to our world today. Enjoy.

Was the World Made for Man?
Mark Twain

“Alfred Russell Wallace's revival of the theory that this earth is at the center of the stellar universe, and is the only habitable globe, has aroused great interest in the world." -- Literary Digest

"For ourselves we do thoroughly believe that man, as he lives just here on this tiny earth, is in essence and possibilities the most sublime existence in all the range of non-divine being -- the chief love and delight of God." -- Chicago "Interior" (Presb.)

I seem to be the only scientist and theologian still remaining to be heard from on this important matter of whether the world was made for man or not. I feel that it is time for me to speak.

I stand almost with the others. They believe the world was made for man, I believe it likely that it was made for man; they think there is proof, astronomical mainly, that it was made for man, I think there is evidence only, not proof, that it was made for him. It is too early, yet, to arrange the verdict, the returns are not all in. When they are all in, I think they will show that the world was made for man; but we must not hurry, we must patiently wait till they are all in.

Now as far as we have got, astronomy is on our side. Mr. Wallace has clearly shown this. He has clearly shown two things: that the world was made for man, and that the universe was made for the world -- to steady it, you know. The astronomy part is settled, and cannot be challenged.

We come now to the geological part. This is the one where the evidence is not all in, yet. It is coming in, hourly, daily, coming in all the time, but naturally it comes with geological carefulness and deliberation, and we must not be impatient, we must not get excited, we must be calm, and wait. To lose our tranquility will not hurry geology; nothing hurries geology.

It takes a long time to prepare a world for man, such a thing is not done in a day. Some of the great scientists, carefully deciphering the evidences furnished by geology, have arrived at the conviction that our world is prodigiously old, and they may be right, but Lord Kelvin is not of their opinion. He takes a cautious, conservative view, in order to be on the safe side, and feels sure it is not so old as they think. As Lord Kelvin is the highest authority in science now living, I think we must yield to him and accept his view. He does not concede that the world is more than a hundred million years old. He believes it is that old, but not older. Lyell believed that our race was introduced into the world 31,000 years ago, Herbert Spencer makes it 32,000. Lord Kelvin agrees with Spencer.

Very well. According to Kelvin's figures it took 99,968,000 years to prepare the world for man, impatient as the Creator doubtless was to see him and admire him. But a large enterprise like this has to be conducted warily, painstakingly, logically. It was foreseen that man would have to have the oyster. Therefore the first preparation was made for the oyster. Very well, you cannot make an oyster out of whole cloth, you must make the oyster's ancestor first. This is not done in a day. You must make a vast variety of invertebrates, to start with -- belemnites, trilobites, jebusites, amalekites, and that sort of fry, and put them to soak in a primary sea, and wait and see what will happen. Some will be a disappointments - the belemnites, the ammonites and such; they will be failures, they will die out and become extinct, in the course of the 19,000,000 years covered by the experiment, but all is not lost, for the amalekites will fetch the home-stake; they will develop gradually into encrinites, and stalactites, and blatherskites, and one thing and another as the mighty ages creep on and the Archaean and the Cambrian Periods pile their lofty crags in the primordial seas, and at last the first grand stage in the preparation of the world for man stands completed, the Oyster is done. An oyster has hardly any more reasoning power than a scientist has; and so it is reasonably certain that this one jumped to the conclusion that the nineteen-million years was a preparation for him; but that would be just like an oyster, which is the most conceited animal there is, except man. And anyway, this one could not know, at that early date, that he was only an incident in a scheme, and that there was some more to the scheme, yet.

The oyster being achieved, the next thing to be arranged for in the preparation of the world for man, was fish. Fish, and coal to fry it with. So the Old Silurian seas were opened up to breed the fish in, and at the same time the great work of building Old Red Sandstone mountains 80,000 feet high to cold-storage their fossils in was begun. This latter was quite indispensable, for there would be no end of failures again, no end of extinctions -- millions of them -- and it would be cheaper and less trouble to can them in the rocks than keep tally of them in a book. One does not build the coal beds and 80,000 feet of perpendicular Old Red Sandstone in a brief time -- no, it took twenty million years. In the first place, a coal bed is a slow and troublesome and tiresome thing to construct. You have to grow prodigious forests of tree-ferns and reeds and calamites and such things in a marshy region; then you have, to sink them under out of sight and let them rot; then you have to turn the streams on them, so as to bury them under several feet of sediment, and the sediment must have time to harden and turn to rock; next you must grow another forest on top, then sink it and put on another layer of sediment and harden it; then more forest and more rock, layer upon layer, three miles deep -- ah, indeed it is a sickening slow job to build a coal-measure and do it right!

So the millions of years drag on; and meantime the fish-culture is lazying along and frazzling out in a way to make a person tired. You have developed ten thousand kinds of fishes from the oyster; and come to look, you have raised nothing but fossils, nothing but extinctions. There is nothing left alive and progressive but a ganoid or two and perhaps half a dozen asteroids. Even the cat wouldn't eat such. Still, it is no great matter; there is plenty of time, yet, and they will develop into something tasty before man is ready for them. Even a ganoid can be depended on for that, when he is not going to be called on for sixty million years.

The Palaeozoic time-limit having now been reached, it was necessary to begin the next stage in the preparation of the world for man, by opening up the Mesozoic Age and instituting some reptiles. For man would need reptiles. Not to eat, but to develop himself from. This being the most important detail of the scheme, a spacious liberality of time was set apart for it -- thirty million years. What wonders followed! From the remaining ganoids and asteroids and alkaloids were developed by slow and steady and pains-taking culture those stupendous saurians that used to prowl about the steamy world in those remote ages, with their snaky heads reared forty feet in the air and sixty feet of body and tail racing and thrashing after. All gone, now, alas -- all extinct, except the little handful of Arkansawrians left stranded and lonely with us here upon this far-flung verge and fringe of time.

Yes, it took thirty million years and twenty million reptiles to get one that would stick long enough to develop into something else and let the scheme proceed to the next step.

Then the Pterodactyl burst upon the world in all his impressive solemnity and grandeur, and all Nature recognized that the Cainozoic threshold was crossed and a new Period open for business, a new stage begun in the preparation of the globe for man. It may be that the Pterodactyl thought the thirty million years had been intended as a preparation for himself, for there was nothing too foolish for a Pterodactyl to imagine, but he was in error, the preparation was for man, Without doubt the Pterodactyl attracted great attention, for even the least observant could see that there was the making of a bird in him. And so it turned out. Also the makings of a mammal, in time. One thing we have to say to his credit, that in the matter of picturesqueness he was the triumph of his Period; he wore wings and had teeth, and was a starchy and wonderful mixture altogether, a kind of long-distance premonitory symptom of Kipling's marine:

'E isn't one O'the reg'lar Line,
nor 'e isn't one of the crew,
'E's a kind of a giddy harumfrodite [hermaphrodite] --
soldier an' sailor too!

From this time onward for nearly another thirty million years the preparation moved briskly. From the Pterodactyl was developed the bird; from the bird the kangaroo, from the kangaroo the other marsupials; from these the mastodon, the megatherium, the giant sloth, the Irish elk, and all that crowd that you make useful and instructive fossils out of -- then came the first great Ice Sheet, and they all retreated before it and crossed over the bridge at Behring's strait and wandered around over Europe and Asia and died. All except a few, to carry on the preparation with. Six Glacial Periods with two million years between Periods chased these poor orphans up and down and about the earth, from weather to weather -- from tropic swelter at the poles to Arctic frost at the equator and back again and to and fro, they never knowing what kind of weather was going to turn up next; and if ever they settled down anywhere the whole continent suddenly sank under them without the least notice and they had to trade places with the fishes and scramble off to where the seas had been, and scarcely a dry rag on them; and when there was nothing else doing a volcano would let go and fire them out from wherever they had located. They led this unsettled and irritating life for twenty-five million years, half the time afloat, half the time aground, and always wondering what it was all for, they never suspecting, of course, that it was a preparation for man and had to be done just so or it wouldn't be any proper and harmonious place for him when he arrived.

And at last came the monkey, and anybody could see that man wasn't far off, now. And in truth that was so. The monkey went on developing for close upon 5,000,000 years, and then turned into a man - to all appearances.

Such is the history of it. Man has been here 32,000 years. That it took a hundred million years to prepare the world for him is proof that that is what it was done for. I suppose it is. I dunno. If the Eiffel tower were now representing the world's age, the skin of paint on the pinnacle-knob at its summit would represent man's share of that age; and anybody would perceive that that skin was what the tower was built for. I reckon they would, I dunno.

Now playing: John Scofield Band - Every Night Is Ladies Night
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Saturday, October 4, 2008

Some Suggestions...

This list comes from the last two months of activity. Believe when I say I won't feel the least bit bad if you dislike or hate any of these. On the other hand, I will feel good if you enjoy them. Try them and if you feel like sharing; tell me what you thought.


A Drink Before the War - Dennis Lehanne

Enjoyable bestseller stuff. Even though the author claims to not want to get too involved in writing scripts for his books, his team of Boston P.I.'s, Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro, seem to have been made for the big screen. It may be easier to find actors committed for the long haul of 5 different books on TV. I can only hope it's cable TV though, so they can say all the bad words. This was his first book.

Darkness, Take My Hand - Dennis Lehane

Second installation for the Kenzie and Gennaro team. Still enjoyable, though this one darkens at exactly where A Drink Before the War ends. Definitely not happy stuff.

Mystic River - Dennis Lehane

A good read even if I much preferred the movie. Clint Eastwood is an awesome director and the acting cast was excellent too. I was surprised how faithful the movie is to the book. Dialogues are faithful and only a few scenes had to be juxtaposed or cut from the book to make the movie. If you've seen the movie, don't waste your time on the book.

Arabian Nights and Days - Naguib Mahfouz

This Egyptian Nobel Prize winning novelist definitely deserves a read. I loved the story, it picks up from the day they "lived happily ever after" in the classic A Thousand and One Arabian Nights. Even though it is set in a medieval time and place and full of genies it deals with important modern issues. Will your conscience allow you to do something wrong for a good cause? Is there anything but a solitary path towards salvation? After reading this I will be checking out more of books.

The Old Capital - Yasunari Kawabata

Kawabata also won a Nobel Prize and this book is just one of the reasons why. I am a big fan of Japanese literature and he is definitely one of the causes. This is a very moving book where the poetics of what is not said are just as important as what is actually said. The spacing of phrases and timing of words and actions gives you time to reflect and feel with the characters what is happening. I should note also that the translation by J. Martin Holman is awesome. I have read most of my favorite Japanese writers in Portuguese because the translations, today, are better than many of the American English ones, especially translations from a few decades ago. Holman re-translated this novel and I look forward to reading more stuff translated by him.

A Mentira (The Lie) - Nelson Rodrigues

A novel written by a Brazilian journalist and play write. He captured the fears and tragedies of the middle class and showed how most of them were caused by the smallest of self interested minds. He did this in the decades of the 1950's - 1970's when middle class theater-goers could be horrified by phrases like, "me and your wife, we did everything while we were in that bathroom". Sorry for you English only readers, there is no translation of this particular book. I'm not even sure if there are any of his works available. If interested I have a few short stories I personally translated, email me and I will send you them.

The Twelve Caesars (Penguin Classics) - Suetonius, Robert Graves (Translator)

I'm sure not many of you are history buffs but I think considering today's political world and the candidates you might find this a fun read. For an ancient Roman book, it contains very readable biographies of generally incompetent, narrow minded, self interested leaders who took on the name of Caesar the Great after he died.


Donnie Darko

Was he a sci-fi hero or just a teenager trying to come to grips with his ego and teenage sexual desires? The movies unanswered questions can lead you to many conclusions. A very good movie just for that point. It also scores with the inclusion of literature classes, the scorn for the sleek and simplified self-help gurus as well as having two of my favorite actresses.

The Office (4th Season)

One of the few things on TV I can actually enjoy. Great ensemble comedy. The only thing is I only buy the DVD's of complete seasons because I travel too much to watch the episodes when they are scheduled. At least I don't have to watch commercials.

Ran - Akira Kurosawa

Only a 75 year old master of cinema could make such a mature translation of Shakespeare's King Lear. I can't prove it, but I bet the British have adopted the film as the best representation of King Lear. It's all that. It is a painting of color moving. It is the story of loyalties and betrayals. And Kurosawa used primary colors to express primary feelings. In general, there is no film by Kurosawa that you shouldn't watch, they only are better or worse amongst themselves, but this is a definite watch.


Out Louder - Medeski, Scofield, Martin & Wood

A combination of two of my favorite things in music: jazz and funk. MM&W are an established trio of organ, bass and drums. Scofield one of the great jazz guitarists makes the quartet. Great beats, great jams and they even have some classics from both the jazz world and pop world. If you get a chance I suggest trying to find a bootleg of them on the Out Louder tour. Fantastic stuff.

All I Intended to Be - Emmylou Harris

If I knew why I bought her album I would tell you. The only thing is I heard a part of a song in an interview of someone else and I liked it. I was more than pleasantly surprised. I used to think she was country. She has much more in common with the Man in Black than I ever thought. She has the same ability to transcend boundaries and do it with confidence. She could sing any one's song and it would sound like hers.


I like beat driven music. I like a woman's voice. I like when the songs mean more than they appear to mean and the lyrics contain a sort of black humor. She does quite well.

Now playing: Medeski, Scofield, Martin & Wood - In Case the World Changes Its Mind
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