Category: Movies


God Particles…

God Particle: Existence to be Confirmed by 2012

The Christian Post – By Simon Saavedra

Physicists directing research through the Large Hadron Collider at CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) have announced that the existence of the sub-atomic “God particle” will be decided by the end of 2012.

For many years, scientists have speculated the existence of the particle, also called the Higgs boson particle, but have not been able to provide any proof to corroborate the fact.

However, at the International Europhysics Conference on High-Energy Physics in Grenoble, France, this past weekend, researchers presented some curious data bleeps that could hint the existence of such a particle.

So far, the physicists stated that after conducting particle-smashing tests in the LHC, reaching speeds up to 99.99 percent of the speed of light, they were only able to determine the location the particle was not found, adding that with more tests and more data they would be able to determine whether the particle exists within 18 months.

If the particle was found to exist, then it would explain how all matter, including creatures, in the universe have come to have mass. Additionally, it would complete the puzzle for the Standard Model of physics that was first established in 1970, a theory that explains the Big Bang as well.

“This experiment is one of the most significant of this third millennium,” Dr. Karl W. Giberson of the BioLogos Foundation said earlier. He called the LHC experiment an “extraordinary event for Christian to contemplate” and said it might lead to further experiments that will one day answer some of man’s deep questions regarding the universe…

Higgs boson

The Higgs boson is often referred to as “the God particle” by the media, after the title of Leon Lederman‘s book, The God Particle: If the Universe Is the Answer, What Is the Question?Lederman initially wanted to call it the “goddamn particle,” but his editor would not let him.While use of this term may have contributed to increased media interest in particle physics and the Large Hadron Collider, many scientists dislike it, since it overstates the particle’s importance, not least since its discovery would still leave unanswered questions about the unification of QCD, the electroweak interaction and gravity, and the ultimate origin of the universe.In a renaming competition, a jury of physicists chose the name “the champagne bottle boson” as the best popular name.

;)

William Cuthbert Faulkner (September 25, 1897 — July 6, 1962) was an American writer of novels, short stories, poetry and occasional screenplays.

William Cuthbert Faulkner was born in New Albany, Mississippi, the first of four sons to Murry Cuthbert Faulkner (August 17, 1870 – August 7, 1932) and Maud Butler (November 27, 1871 – October 19, 1960). He had three younger brothers: Murry Charles “Jack” Faulkner (June 26, 1899 – December 24, 1975), author John Faulkner (September 24, 1901 – March 28, 1963) and Dean Swift Faulkner (August 15, 1907 – November 10, 1935).

Faulkner was born and raised in, and heavily influenced by, his home state of Mississippi, as well as by the history and culture of the American South altogether. Only four days prior to his fifth birthday, the Faulkner family settled in Oxford, Mississippi on September 21, 1902, where he resided on and off for the remainder of his life.

Faulkner demonstrated an aptitude for painting in water colors and for writing verses in songs as a child, but grew increasingly disillusioned with any and all artistic pursuits in the sixth grade. He instead directed his attention to literature, and later stated that he modeled his early writing on the Romantic era in late 18th century and early 19th century in England.He attended the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) in Oxford, and was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon social fraternity. He enrolled at Ole Miss in 1919, and attended three semesters before dropping out in November 1920.

The younger Faulkner was greatly influenced by the history of his family and the region in which he lived. Mississippi marked his sense of humor, his sense of the tragic position of Black and White Americans, his characterization of Southern characters, and his timeless themes, including fiercely intelligent people dwelling behind the façades of good old boys and simpletons. Unable to join the United States Army due to his height (he was 5′ 5½”), Faulkner enlisted in the British Royal Flying Corps, later training at RFC bases in Canada and Britain, yet never experienced wartime action during the First World War.

In 1918, upon enlisting in the RFC, Faulkner himself made the change to his surname. However, according to one story, a careless typesetter simply made an error. When the misprint appeared on the title page of his first book, Faulkner was asked whether he wanted a change. He supposedly replied, “Either way suits me.” Although Faulkner is heavily identified with Mississippi, he was residing in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1925 when he wrote his first novel, Soldiers’ Pay, after being directly influenced by Sherwood Anderson to attempt fiction writing. The miniature house at 624 Pirate’s Alley, just around the corner from St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans is now the premises of Faulkner House Books, where it also serves as the headquarters of the Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society.

Faulkner served as Writer-in-Residence at the University of Virginia at Charlottesville from February to June 1957. He suffered serious injuries in a horse-riding accident in 1959, and died from a myocardial infarction, aged 64, on July 6, 1962, at Wright’s Sanitorium in Byhalia, Mississippi. He is buried along with his family in St. Peter’s Cemetery in Oxford, along with a family friend with the mysterious initials E.T

The majority of his works are based in his native state of Mississippi. Faulkner is considered one of the most important writers of the Southern literature of the United States, along with Mark Twain, Robert Penn Warren, Flannery O’Connor, Truman Capote, Eudora Welty, Thomas Wolfe, Harper Lee and Tennessee Williams. Though his work was published as early as 1919, and largely during the 1920s and 1930s, Faulkner was relatively unknown until receiving the 1949 Nobel Prize in Literature. Some now consider Faulkner to be the greatest writer of all time.

Source:  Wiki

William Faulkner: Nobel Prize Speech

Stockholm, Sweden
December 10, 1950

I feel that this award was not made to me as a man, but to my work–a life’s work in the agony and sweat of the human spirit, not for glory and least of all for profit, but to create out of the materials of the human spirit something which did not exist before. So this award is only mine in trust. It will not be difficult to find a dedication for the money part of it commensurate with the purpose and significance of its origin. But I would like to do the same with the acclaim too, by using this moment as a pinnacle from which I might be listened to by the young men and women already dedicated to the same anguish and travail, among whom is already that one who will some day stand where I am standing.

Our tragedy today is a general and universal physical fear so long sustained by now that we can even bear it. There are no longer problems of the spirit. There is only one question: When will I be blown up? Because of this, the young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat. He must learn them again.

He must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid: and, teaching himself that, forget it forever, leaving no room in his workshop for anything but the old verities and truths of the heart, the universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed–love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice. Until he does so, he labors under a curse. He writes not of love but of lust, of defeats in which nobody loses anything of value, and victories without hope and worst of all, without pity or compassion. His griefs grieve on no universal bones, leaving no scars. He writes not of the heart but of the glands.

Until he learns these things, he will write as though he stood among and watched the end of man. I decline to accept the end of man. It is easy enough to say that man is immortal because he will endure: that when the last ding-dong of doom has clanged and faded from the last worthless rock hanging tideless in the last red and dying evening, that even then there will still be one more sound: that of his puny inexhaustible voice, still talking. I refuse to accept this.

I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. The poet’s, the writer’s, duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past. The poet’s voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail.

Uncontacted tribes

Slim pickings: inside the museum of the world’s richest man

Mexico’s Carlos Slim opens stunning new complex to house art collection

EL PAÍS – By PABLO ORDAZ

It was two years ago that Mexican magnate Carlos Slim was named the world’s richest man by Forbes magazine. But it was long before then – since his marriage to Soumaya Domit in 1966 – that he began collecting art. “It was during our honeymoon around Europe,” he says. “My wife was always very sensitive to art. I fueled that passion by buying an important collection of Mexican colonial art. I later realized that there were no museums with international art in Mexico. [...] So I started to buy European art, which was as expensive as it is now.”

As his empire grew, so did his art collection. And now Slim has just opened the Soumaya Museum in Mexico City to house his 60,000-piece collection, the name a tribute to the memory of the woman who inspired it all.

The first thing you notice about the 563-million-euro complex are the sparkles of light it gives off. Engineer Slim gave his architect son-in-law Fernando Romero the job of creating a building that would disappoint no one. Held up by 28 steel columns of different diameters, it is built over six floors, but natural light only penetrates the last one. The rest is protected by 17,000 hexagonal panels that reflect the sun’s rays and evoke the “beehive and family work.”

The second thing you notice is the apparent disorder of the works on show. Picasso, Rodin, El Greco, Van Gogh, Monet, Cézanne, Leonardo da Vinci – to name but a few – share space with a coin and medal collection, a mural by Diego Rivera and an Alexander McQueen dress. But there’s a reason for the haphazard nature, says museum director Alfonso Miranda. “Slim’s collection is so extensive that we have the chance to establish analogies, bridges of communication between the history of art in Mexico and the history of art in the West. It’s interweaving the collection in a daring way, as it is the same building.”

It certainly met the approval of Mexican President Felipe Calderón. “[This museum] places Mexico at the vanguard in the world of culture,” he said at the opening ceremony, which was also attended by writer Gabriel García Márquez and US talk-show host and art collector Larry King.


How Evolution Explains Altruism

SUPERCOOPERATORS – Altruism, Evolution, and Why We Need Each Other to Succeed – Martin A. Nowak with Roger Highfield – 330 pp. Free Press. $27

New York Times Book Review – By OREN HARMAN

What do colon cancer, ant colonies, language and global warming have in common? This might sound like the front end of a joke, but in fact it’s a serious challenge to the standard view of evolution. Martin A. Nowak, the director of the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics at Harvard, has devoted a brilliant career to showing that Darwin, and particularly his followers, batted only two for three.

Random mutation and natural selection have indeed been powerful motors for change in the natural world — the struggle for existence pitting the fit against the fitter in a hullabaloo of rivalry. But most of the great innovations of life on earth, Nowak argues, from genes to cells to societies, have been due to a third motor, and “master architect,” of evolution: cooperation.

“SuperCooperators” (written with Roger Highfield, editor of New Scientist magazine) is an absorbing, accessible book about the power of mathematics. Unlike Darwin with his brine bottles and pigeon coops, Nowak aims to tackle the mysteries of nature with paper, pencil and computer…

At the heart of Nowak’s ideas is the haunting game of Prisoner’s Dilemma. The game involves two accomplices who are caught for a crime, interrogated separately and offered a deal. If one player incriminates the other, or “defects,” while the second remains silent, or “cooperates,” he will be given a sentence of one year, while the other player gets four.

If both remain silent, they will be sentenced to only two years, but if both defect, they will receive three years. The rational choice for either prisoner is to defect, getting three years — though had both cooperated, they’d have been out in two. In the absence of trust, reason can be self-destructive…

In “SuperCooperators,” Nowak argues that two of his mechanisms, indirect reciprocity and group selection, played an important role in human evolution. Think of a proto-simian trying to figure out whether to trust another in an exchange: Should I provide sex now for food and protection later? The proto-simian may have observed the behavior of its prospective partner, or it may not have; chances are good that others have, though. Reputation becomes important.

The proto-­simian evolves into a hominid, with a bigger brain allowing for more precise communication about reputation. Moral instincts evolve to produce shame, guilt, trust, empathy; social intelligence and conscience are born. Before you know it, Yogi Berra is summing it all up: “Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t come to yours.” Language, cognition and morality, Nowak argues, are evolutionary spinoffs of the fundamental need of social creatures to cooperate…

Love Song (from “Vision in Spring”, 1921)

“Change and change: the world revolves to worlds,
To minute whorls
And particles of soil on careless thumbs.
Now I shall go alone,
I shall echo streets of stone, while evening comes
Treading space and beat, space and beat.
The last left seed of beauty in my heart
That I so carefully tended, leaf and bloom,
Falls in darkness.”

by William Faulkner

end ;)

Pampered Lives…

Growltiger’s Last Stand

GROWLTIGER was a Bravo Cat, who lived upon a barge;
In fact he was the roughest cat that ever roamed at large.
From Gravesend up to Oxford he pursued his evil aims,
Rejoicing in his title of “The Terror of the Thames.”His manners and appearance did not calculate to please;
His coat was torn and seedy, he was baggy at the knees;
One ear was somewhat missing, no need to tell you why,
And he scowled upon a hostile world from one forbidding eye. 

The cottagers of Rotherhithe knew something of his fame,
At Hammersmith and Putney people shuddered at his name.
They would fortify the hen-house, lock up the silly goose,
When the rumour ran along the shore: GROWLTIGER’S ON THE LOOSE!

Woe to the weak canary, that fluttered from its cage;
Woe to the pampered Pekinese, that faced Growltiger’s rage.
Woe to the bristly Bandicoot, that lurks on foreign ships,
And woe to any Cat with whom Growltiger came to grips!

But most to Cats of foreign race his hatred had been vowed;
To Cats of foreign name and race no quarter was allowed.
The Persian and the Siamese regarded him with fear–
Because it was a Siamese had mauled his missing ear.

Now on a peaceful summer night, all nature seemed at play,
The tender moon was shining bright, the barge at Molesey lay.
All in the balmy moonlight it lay rocking on the tide–
And Growltiger was disposed to show his sentimental side.

His bucko mate, GRUMBUSKIN, long since had disappeared,
For to the Bell at Hampton he had gone to wet his beard;
And his bosun, TUMBLEBRUTUS, he too had stol’n away-
In the yard behind the Lion he was prowling for his prey.

In the forepeak of the vessel Growltiger sate alone,
Concentrating his attention on the Lady GRIDDLEBONE.
And his raffish crew were sleeping in their barrels and their bunks–
As the Siamese came creeping in their sampans and their junks.

Growltiger had no eye or ear for aught but Griddlebone,
And the Lady seemed enraptured by his manly baritone,
Disposed to relaxation, and awaiting no surprise–
But the moonlight shone reflected from a thousand bright blue eyes.

And closer still and closer the sampans circled round,
And yet from all the enemy there was not heard a sound.
The lovers sang their last duet, in danger of their lives–
For the foe was armed with toasting forks and cruel carving knives.

Then GILBERT gave the signal to his fierce Mongolian horde;
With a frightful burst of fireworks the Chinks they swarmed aboard.
Abandoning their sampans, and their pullaways and junks,
They battened down the hatches on the crew within their bunks.

Then Griddlebone she gave a screech, for she was badly skeered;
I am sorry to admit it, but she quickly disappeared.
She probably escaped with ease, I’m sure she was not drowned–
But a serried ring of flashing steel Growltiger did surround.

The ruthless foe pressed forward, in stubborn rank on rank;
Growltiger to his vast surprise was forced to walk the plank.
He who a hundred victims had driven to that drop,
At the end of all his crimes was forced to go ker-flip, ker-flop.

Oh there was joy in Wapping when the news flew through the land;
At Maidenhead and Henley there was dancing on the strand.
Rats were roasted whole at Brentford, and at Victoria Dock,
And a day of celebration was commanded in Bangkok.

by T. S. Eliot

The Pampered Life, Viewed From the Inside

NYT – By A. O. SCOTT

…What happens is something marvelous: a film that never raises its voice (its loudest and most assertive sound is that Ferrari) or panders to your emotions, but that nonetheless has the power to refresh your perceptions and deepen your sympathies. As it proceeds from one careful, watchful, slow shot to the next, a sad and affecting story emerges, about a father’s loneliness and a daughter’s devotion.

But the experience of watching “Somewhere,” shot in lovely tones of Southern California haze by the great Harris Savides, is like reading a poem. The scenes play off one another like stanzas, producing patterns and echoes that feel like the camera’s accidental discoveries, even as they are the surest evidence of Ms. Coppola’s formidable and subtle art.

The driver of that car is Johnny Marco, a movie star played, right at the boundary between restraint and catatonia, by Stephen Dorff. Johnny is living at the Chateau Marmont, a storied Hollywood hotel that is either a paradise of easy wish-fulfillment or a purgatory of celebrity anomie. Or maybe both.

He seems to be finishing work on one movie while publicizing another — from time to time, he is whisked from the Chateau to a junket or a special-effects prosthetic-making session — but mostly Johnny hangs out, smokes cigarettes, drinks and has sex with one of the women who seem to be at the hotel for just that purpose.

The tricky feat that Ms. Coppola pulls off is to convey the emptiness of Johnny’s situation without denying its appeal, and also without giving him more spiritual depth than would be credible. He lives in a world where his desires are so instantly and easily gratified that they hardly even count as desires, since no longing or effort ever enters into the picture.

In an early scene, after breaking his arm in a drunken stumble (“I do all my own stunts” is his facetious deadpan explanation), he is entertained in his room by twin blond pole dancers who work their way through a routine that seems more calisthenic than erotic as he dozes off. (Later he will fall asleep during foreplay, his head between the legs of a recent conquest, which is to say a woman with whom he had just made eye contact.)

… Johnny is, in part, a prisoner of his own fantasies and aspirations, and he drifts through his days in a state of dazed, weirdly polite bafflement. The only thing keeping him from utter ruin is his professionalism, which expresses itself in an ingrained habit of courtesy. His job is a paradox: he must be himself by conforming to what everyone else wants him to be, and so he must answer dumb questions at a news conference, listen patiently to a young aspiring actor’s plea for advice and travel to Italy for a ridiculous awards show.

I know: poor guy! But without making him especially noble or smart, Mr. Dorff makes it clear that Johnny is human. It turns out that he has an 11-year-old daughter, who at first comes for a brief visit and then, because of an unspecified crisis in her mother’s life, for a longer stay.

Her name is Cleo, and she is played by Elle Fanning with heartbreaking clarity and grace. Cleo, having grown up on this strange planet of fame, has learned both how to take advantage of its entitlements and how to acquire some of the life skills that her father has allowed to atrophy. She calls up room service to order ingredients for a homemade dinner and later serves her father and his brother a meal of eggs Benedict…

Anatomy of a Scene: ‘Somewhere’

Robertson favors marijuana legalization

Raw Story – By Stephen C. Webster

Count this among the 10 things nobody ever expected to see in their lifetimes: 700 Club founder Pat Robertson, one of the cornerstone figures of America’s Christian right movement, has come out in favor of legalizing marijuana.

Calling it getting “smart” on crime, Robertson aired a clip on a recent episode of his 700 Club television show that advocated the viewpoint of drug law reformers who run prison outreach ministries.

A narrator even claimed that religious prison outreach has “saved” millions in public funds by helping to reduce the number of prisoners who return shortly after being released.

“It got to be a big deal in campaigns: ‘He’s tough on crime,’ and ‘lock ‘em up!’” the Christian Coalition founder said. “That’s the way these guys ran and, uh, they got elected. But, that wasn’t the answer.”

His co-host added that the success of religious-run dormitories for drug and alcohol cessation therapy present an “opportunity” for faith-based communities to lead the way on drug law reforms.

“We’re locking up people that have taken a couple puffs of marijuana and next thing you know they’ve got 10 years with mandatory sentences,” Robertson continued. “These judges just say, they throw up their hands and say nothing we can do with these mandatory sentences. We’ve got to take a look at what we’re considering crimes and that’s one of ‘em.

“I’m … I’m not exactly for the use of drugs, don’t get me wrong, but I just believe that criminalizing marijuana, criminalizing the possession of a few ounces of pot, that kinda thing it’s just, it’s costing us a fortune and it’s ruining young people. Young people go into prisons, they go in as youths and come out as hardened criminals. That’s not a good thing.”…]

Related: Missoula District Court: Jury pool in marijuana case stages ‘mutiny’

Sarah Palin: Smoking Pot Is No Big Deal

Kenneth Anger (born Kenneth Wilbur Anglemeyer; February 3, 1927) is an American underground experimental filmmaker, actor and author. Working exclusively in short films, he has produced almost forty works since 1937, nine of which in particular have been grouped together as the “Magick Lantern Cycle”, and form the basis of Anger’s reputation as one of the most influential independent filmmakers in cinema history.

Anger has described filmmakers such as Auguste and Louis Lumière and Georges Méliès as influences, and has been cited as an important influence on later film directors like Martin Scorsese, David Lynch and John Waters. He has also been described as having “a profound impact on the work of many other filmmakers and artists, as well as on music video as an emergent art form using dream sequence, dance, fantasy, and narrative.”

During the 1960s and 70s he associated and worked with a number of different figures in popular culture and the occult, including Church of Satan founder Anton LaVey, sexologist Alfred Kinsey, artist Jean Cocteau, playwright Tennessee Williams and musicians Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Jimmy Page and Marianne Faithfull.

He is also the author of the controversial best seller Hollywood Babylon (1959) and its sequel Hollywood Babylon II (1986), in which he claims to expose many of the rumours and secrets of Hollywood celebrities.

One of the central recurring images found in Anger’s work is the concept of flames and light; in Fireworks there are various examples of this, including a burning Christmas tree, and it subsequently appears in many of his other works as well. This relates to the concept of Lucifer, a deity whom Anger devoted one of his films to, and whose name is Latin for “light bearer”.

In many of his films, heavy use is made of music, both classical and pop, to accompany the visual imagery. For instance, in Scorpio Rising he makes use of the 1950s pop songs “Torture” by Kris Jensen, “I Will Follow Him” by Little Peggy March and “Blue Velvet” by Bobby Vinton, something that he believed was later copied by David Lynch in his 1986 movie Blue Velvet.

He first used music to accompany visuals in the 1941 work Who Has Been Rocking My Dreamboat?, where he used tracks by the Mills Brothers. His use of popular music to accompany his films has been cited as a key influence on the development of music videos and of MTV, although he has stated his dislike for the whole music video industry.

Source:  Wiki

end – ;)

No Compromise

‘Tron: Legacy’ Review: A Thrilling, Evocative, and Utterly Satisfying Piece of Entertainment

Movie Fone – By Todd Gilchrist

It only took a first viewing of ‘Tron: Legacy‘ to know that I really liked the film, but I admit that it wasn’t until the second that I really knew why. Like so many other science fiction and fantasy opuses, it’s filled with a visual splendor, if not a sort of glorious self-indulgence that is likely to delight most viewers, and indeed it shows them things that they have never seen before. But its story has a deceptive denseness that is at once legitimately complex and spectacularly flimsy, which will no doubt engender a significant and perhaps deserved dislike from folks who are insufficiently inspired to probe deeper – much less watch it again…

Garrett Hedlund (‘Friday Night Lights’) plays Sam Flynn, the headstrong but aimless son of Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), a computer programmer and corporate CEO who disappeared under mysterious circumstances in the late 1980s. Now 27, Sam lives alone in a reconfigured garage and only visits his father’s company long enough to stage elaborate pranks that undercut its bottom-line profiteering. But after former ENCOM figurehead Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner) tells Sam that he received an unlikely page from Kevin’s long-abandoned arcade, the younger Flynn decides to investigate further.

Discovering a secret room behind the rows of dusty 1980s video games, Sam hacks into what appears to be his father’s computer. Subsequently, he is sucked into a futuristic, computer-created world where he is forced to compete in various games of physical skill by Clu, a fascistic dictator who curiously also happens to look just like his father. But when a young woman named Quorra (Olivia Wilde) intervenes and rescues him from the game grid, Sam begins to discover the complexity of this world, which was actually created from the ground up by his father before he was trapped inside it decades ago…

In a fairly stunning if not-quite-successful experiment using the performance-capture technology that made the cat people of ‘Avatar‘ possible, Jeff Bridges not only plays himself in the film at his current age, but also delivers a performance as his ’80s-era self, complete with digitally-designed facial features that make him look more like he just shot ‘Starman’ than ‘Crazy Heart.’

Because it seems like the filmmakers were developing their technology concurrently with Cameron’s, Clu seems more in line with the computer-generated not-quite-human beings of ‘Beowulf‘ or ‘A Christmas Carol‘ than the standard-bearing Na’vi, who looked realistically and recognizably like the actors performing them. Nevertheless, the creative choice to have Bridges play himself at two different ages – and to pull it off with such a high degree of success – sets an auspicious and significant precedent that should have some interesting repercussions in future films…

Although some of the supporting characters are relatively forgettable, the one most crucial to the story – and unexpectedly, the overall success of the film – is Quorra. Olivia Wilde has possibly the second most-irresistible smile I’ve ever seen, but there’s not a false moment in her performance, and she gives Quorra a dimensionality and substance that the film doesn’t require, but certainly benefits from. The simultaneous combination of her strength and naivete places her somewhere between Ellen Ripley and Trinity in the continuum of kick-ass female characters, and the purity of her enthusiasm is infectious, giving even dramatic scenes an extra jolt of energy but turning action set pieces into explosive sequences that are both epic and personal…

Camilla hit by rioter through car window as protesters attack royals

Standard – Ross Lydall and Justin Davenport

The Duchess of Cornwall was physically attacked through an open car window as thugs rampaged in London, the Standard can reveal today.

A rioter managed to push a stick into the royal limousine and jab her in the ribs. Camilla’s terrifying ordeal came as a baying mob surrounded her and husband Prince Charles when they rode through central London in the vintage Rolls-Royce last night.

A police source said one of the car’s rear windows was opened in error as tuition fee protesters moved in.

The attack is the biggest royal security breach in decades and raises new questions about protection of the couple. Charlie Gilmour, the son of Pink Floyd guitarist David, was with protesters in Regent Street when the car was hit.

The Standard can now reveal the security breach was even more serious than first believed, with thugs managing to reach deep into the car’s interior.

Armed officers were seconds from drawing their guns but the police driver managed to accelerate away from trouble.

Police sources have revealed that the Duchess was “very scared” when the yob leaned into the car. He said: “She is laughing about it now but everyone was rather shaken.”

A Clarence House spokesman said today: “Their Royal Highnesses understand the difficulties police face and are always grateful to them for the job they do in challenging circumstances.”

The Rolls-Royce was surrounded as it drove down Regent Street to a Royal Variety Performance at the London Palladium, with protesters kicking at the doors and shattering a rear window. At one point it was rocked and hit with paint bombs…

Miley Cyrus Video — Partying with a Bong

TMZ

Miley Cyrus celebrated her 18th birthday by experimenting with a bong and catching a case of the giggles — but sources say she was not smoking marijuana.

The video was shot during a party at Miley’s L.A. area home 5 days after her 18th birthday.

According to a source connected with Miley … the smoke filling the bong is a natural herb called salvia which has psychedelic qualities. Possession of salvia is legal in California.

As for the video … the source tells us it was shot by one of Miley’s friends –  and the theory is someone stole or copied the video from that friend’s camera.

NIDA InfoFacts: Salvia

Salvia (Salvia divinorum) is an herb common to southern Mexico and Central and South America. The main active ingredient in Salvia, salvinorin A, is a potent activator of kappa opioid receptors in the brain.These receptors differ from those activated by the more commonly known opioids, such as heroin and morphine.

Traditionally, S. divinorum has been ingested by chewing fresh leaves or by drinking their extracted juices. The dried leaves of S. divinorum can also be smoked as a joint, consumed in water pipes, or vaporized and inhaled. Although Salvia currently is not a drug regulated by the Controlled Substances Act, several States and countries have passed legislation to regulate its use. The Drug Enforcement Agency has listed Salvia as a drug of concern and is considering classifying it as a Schedule I drug, like LSD or marijuana.

Health/Behavioral Effects

People who abuse salvia generally experience hallucinations or “psychotomimetic” episodes (a transient experience that mimics a psychosis).Subjective effects have been described as intense but short-lived, appearing in less than 1 minute and lasting less than 30 minutes. They include psychedelic-like changes in visual perception, mood and body sensations, emotional swings, feelings of detachment, and importantly, a highly modified perception of external reality and the self, leading to a decreased ability to interact with one’s surroundings.5 This last effect has prompted concern about the dangers of driving under the influence of salvinorin. The long-term effects of Salvia abuse have not been investigated systematically.

Extent of Use

In 2009, NIDA’s Monitoring the Future Survey of 8th, 10th, and 12th graders asked about salvia abuse for the first time—5.7 percent of high school seniors reported past year use (greater than the percent reporting ecstasy use). Although information about this drug is limited, recent salvia-related media reports and Internet traffic suggest the possibility that its abuse is increasing in the US and Europe, likely driven by drug-related videos and information on Internet sites.3 Because of the nature of the drug’s effects—its use may be restricted to individual experimentalists, rather than as a social or party drug.

For more information on the effects of hallucinogenic drugs, see NIDA’s Research Report on Hallucinogens and Dissociative Drugs. For more information on Salvia divinorum and the Controlled Substances Act.

Movie Review: The Fighter Is Not So Much Raging Bull As Raging Family

NY Magazine – By: David Edelstein

Good news: The Fighter is mistitled. It’s not about another raging bull. It’s about a whole raging family: bulls, cows, even raging heifers. It opens in 1993 in the blue-collar section of Lowell, Massachusetts, where the punching doesn’t stop at the ropes and the air is alive with epithets: Ya junkbag, ya skank, ya cheap bastahd. At last, the famously pugilistic filmmaker David O. Russell (he once yelled at his Three Kings star George Clooney, “You want to hit me? Come on, pussy, hit me!” then grabbed him by the throat) has found a set of characters more quarrelsome than he is: two half-brothers, Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) and Dicky Edlund (Christian Bale); Micky’s bartending squeeze, Charlene (Amy Adams); their boozy, bottle-blonde mom, Alice (Melissa Leo); and their fearsome armada of big-haired sisters. Ironically, the title character, Wahlberg’s Micky, is the movie’s peacemaker. He just wants everyone to get along so he can pummel people outside the family to a pulp.

The Fighter takes awhile to find its footing. It opens in a faux-documentary style, with the emphasis on faux: Once again, Massachusetts accents prove to be the kryptonite of superstars. Bale’s Dicky, once a boxer and the “pride of Lowell,” is now the subject of an HBO whatever-happened-to doc he thinks is meant to herald his comeback. But it’s actually about how he became a crackhead — which is bad for Dicky but good for Bale, who gets a chance to do one of those overcommitted-Method-actor transformations that leaves him with bones popping out of his sallow flesh. He’s terrific, but, you know, ick. It’s the faded junior welterweight Micky — now working in construction — who decides to give the ring one more shot. In this he is assisted — and prodded, and sometimes browbeaten — by his new girlfriend…

Soundtracks for The Fighter

Gojira Joins the Rest of Her Sea Shepherd Fleet

Sea Shepherd’s fast new interceptor vessel the MY Gojira arrived late afternoon on Saturday, December 4th in the port of Hobart after a near weeklong journey from her home port of Fremantle, Western Australia. Gojira was greeted by the Steve Irwin and Bob Barker vessels, the new Nancy Burnet helicopter, and a very excited group of international crewmembers anxious to begin their journey to the Southern Ocean to put an end to Japan’s illegal whaling operations.

After all vessels complete their safety training and replenish essentials, the fleet will depart Australian waters within the next few days to carry out their mission and stop whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

end ;)

Sunday Culture: Lost Art

Not Dark Yet

Shadows are fallin’ and I’ve been here all day
It’s too hot to sleep and time is runnin’ away
Feel like my soul has turned into steel
I’ve still got the scars that the sun didn’t heal
There’s not even room enough to be anywhere
It’s not dark yet but it’s gettin’ there.

Well, my sense of humanity has gone down the drain
Behind every beautiful thing there’s been some kind of pain
She wrote me a letter and she wrote it so kind
She put down in writin’ what was in her mind
I just don’t see why I should even care
It’s not dark yet but it’s gettin’ there.

Well, I’ve been to London and I been to gay Paris
I’ve followed the river and I got to the sea
I’ve been down on the bottom of the world full of lies
I ain’t lookin’ for nothin’ in anyone’s eyes
Sometimes my burden is more than I can bear
It’s not dark yet but it’s gettin’ there.

I was born here and I’ll die here against my will
I know it looks like I’m movin’ but I’m standin’ still
Every nerve in my body is so naked and numb
I can’t even remember what it was I came here to get away from
Don’t even hear the murmur of a prayer
It’s not dark yet but it’s gettin’ there.

Bob Dylan

A priceless gift or grand theft Pablo?

Electrician is under scrutiny after producing 60 million euros worth of Picasso works

EL PAÍS – By ANTONIO JIMÉNEZ BARCA

For more than 40 years, a retired electrician living in a small village in southern France has been storing 271 authentic Picassos with an estimated worth of more than 60 million euros. After trying to get them authenticated in Paris, he and his wife now find themselves accused of theft by the artist’s family, while the artworks have been seized and are being kept in storage at a police station that specializes in art crimes, until a judge reaches a verdict.

The story began on January 14 of this year, when Claude Picasso, the painter’s son and the administrator of his legacy, received a surprising letter at his Paris office. A man named Pierre Le Guennec was asking him for a certificate of authenticity for 26 previously unknown Picasso artworks. The petition included several photographs of mediocre quality of the art in question. Then, on April 30, Claude Picasso received another batch of bad photos and another letter assuring him that these were also the work of Picasso. He was asked once more to provide a certificate of authenticity.

According to the newspaper Libération, which broke the story, Picasso’s son was intrigued by the missives, and got in touch with Le Guennec – who is aged 71, and lives in Mouans-Sartoux, a village in Côte d’Azur – to ask him for a face-to-face interview. Claude told him that he could not establish the real origin of the paintings, or indeed their value, unless he saw them in person.

On September 9, Le Guennec and his wife showed up in Paris with a suitcase. To the amazement of Claude Picasso, as well as several art experts in the room, the couple pulled out notebooks filled with drawings; lithographs; ink portraits of Picasso’s first wife, Olga Khokhlova; Cubist collages that were in themselves worth ¤40 million; watercolors from his “Blue Period;” sketches of hands; caricatures; and landscapes. All of the works were produced between 1900 and 1932, the artist’s most productive and innovative period.

After examining the contents of the suitcase for three hours, the team of experts concluded that nobody in the world could have imitated so many techniques so perfectly, and that they were indeed faced with an unexpected mountain of authentic “picassos” that nobody else knew existed. And then came the inevitable question. How did Le Guennec happen to have come by all this material?

Le Guennec said that during the last three years of Picasso’s life – he died in 1973 – the Frenchman had put in the electrical wiring in the artist’s homes in Cannes and Mougins. The electrician said he installed several burglar alarms, among other things. The work inside the suitcase was a gift to him from Picasso shortly before his death, he said. But Le Guennec told the police another version of events, according to Libération. On that occasion he said that it was Picasso’s last wife, Jacqueline de Vallaurais – who died in 1986 – that had given him the gift.

Picasso’s six heirs have now decided to initiate legal proceedings against the electrician, whom they accuse of theft. The artist’s family figures it is impossible for Picasso, who was obsessed with keeping everything, to have given away such a vast amount of his own work – most of it undated, some of it incomplete, and none of it dedicated.

Claude Picasso, born of the relationship between the artist and Françoise Gilot, told Libération: “He always kept everything: metro tickets, the tickets to a play or a bullfight… Even the string around the mail he received each day… He thought that everything might be useful. Nearly 200,000 objects of his have been preserved and inventoried. [...] For him to just give a gift like this does not make any sense. All that was part of his life. He was generous. But he always dated and dedicated his presents. And Jacqueline might have given away a postcard or a book, but all that… It’s out of place.”

For now, the police have the artistic treasures under lock and key, in the central offices of the branch of the force in charge of cultural goods trafficking, in Nanterre. As for the electrician and his wife, they are facing a long legal battle with Picasso’s heirs.

The hyphothesis of the lawyers as to why the couple may have waited until now to reveal their haul of artworks is simple: to avoid a jail sentence, given that the statute of limitations for the alleged theft will have expired.

“Before anything else happens, we must recover these works for the sake of art history,” one of the Picasso family lawyers is quoted as saying in Libération.

Related: (Le Figaro)(FR) The unpublished notebooks Picasso

WSJ: Review Round-up: ‘Phas Gaya Re Obama’

Le Louvre to create new attractions

Le Figaro FR (English Translation)

Henri Loyrette, president and CEO explains how he intends to accompany the increase in attendance at the museum.

Patron of the Louvre for nearly ten years, Henri Loyrette charge of an institution whose success is undeniable. His challenge, he says, is that the public can see the Mona Lisa in good condition but is also curious about other works. His season of exhibitions devoted to the eighteenth century is this incentive to explore, while the white cards (à Patrice Chéreau right now) used to reach a wider audience.

LE FIGARO. – With more than 8.6 million visitors, the Louvre displays a record attendance. Would it be possible to do more?

Henri LOYRETTE. – Having more visitors is not an end in itself. But an increase in attendance is always a cause for satisfaction. This shows that the museum is in a good momentum and he knows renew its offer. We conducted a study which shows that our audiences are loyal visitors. It appears several times in the Louvre in the same year, because there’s always something.

This “microwave” poses does not have problems …

The Louvre is a palace, but he is perfectly capable of accommodating 8.6 million people, or 30,000 per day, provided they are not all in the same place and same time. However, some spaces, like the Denon wing where the Victory of Samothrace, the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo, are overloaded at certain times of the year. We sometimes have a problem of distribution of flows. I will therefore like to encourage visitors to focus their attention elsewhere. Some attractions, like the Crown Jewels, will be moved to other rooms. The path of the masterpieces offered by our audio guides, has already been reviewed. The Louvre’s collection go well beyond the Mona Lisa.

Le Grand Louvre, with its Pyramid, 20 years ago. How has it changed?

It is an undeniable success. I had another Louvre, where it was thought that the number of 4 million visitors was up. With this project, we doubled the area and gave an incredible boost to the museum. Between 2001 and 2008, the number of visitors grew by 70%! Obviously, some areas, including the Pyramid, are victims of their success and are now undersized. We will rethink welcome, and the information given at the entrance and inside the rooms. We must multiply the points of information, while creating new attractions. This is the condition for the Louvre tomorrow. This project moves us already and for the next three years.

Like most large public museums, your budget for 2011 is down. What consequences will this have?

France suffered a serious crisis and we share our efforts. A savings plan has been implemented, leading to a tightening of spending. Given this, we had to do with 5% less in 2009 and again in 2011 another 5 percent lower in 2011. Our grant investment will decrease it, a quarter, and we must comply with the obligation not to replace a retiring two.

To address these constraints, we will raise the price of the ticket from 9.5 to 10 euros and continue an active policy of patronage. For several years, patrons follow us: Recently, they must, among other things, the ceiling Cy Twombly, les vitraux de Morellet, la renovation of rooms art of the eighteenth century or the season Patrice Chéreau. However, it must properly fund the 40 posts required for the future Department of arts de l’Islam, scheduled for 2012. When I arrived at the Louvre, only 75% of rooms were open, lack of staff. Today, they are almost all. It would be unthinkable to go back.

With historian Marc Fumaroli, you propose an exhibition on the revival of taste for the antique eighteenth century, with its variations and oppositions. Is not it risky to bet on a very classic?

There was no exposure to the eighteenth century for a very long time. To assemble, we relied on the latest research in the history of art. We have chosen to show how ancient, much better known after the archaeological discoveries at Herculaneum and Pompeii, and publishing of large illustrated books, then the issue is a debate that runs throughout Europe. Different aesthetic designs are born and compete on a political and ideological. We show that the simplistic oppositions of art history – transition from Rococo to Neoclassical – hid developments infinitely more varied. We had the ambition to synthesize them.

What surprising aspects of this eighteenth century do we find?

We make up the emergence of the neoclassical expression much earlier in time, from 1720, whereas traditionally it is situated around 1770. We highlight a few major figures not seen enough today, as the sculptor Edme Bouchardon. We also discuss the cons-currents inspired by the Baroque mannerism and the taste sublime.

Thus, we present artists such as Briton James Barry and the American Benjamin West, not as it normally does, as eccentric, but by placing them in the great movement of positioning in relation to art ancient. Another example: we are facing two artists never close to each other, Fuseli, the celebrated painter’s Nightmare, and David. These two artists who were at the same time in Rome.

Why do you spend a season in the eighteenth century? For, besides “The ancient dream, you have an exhibition on the Age of Enlightenment at the Louvre (Sully wing), another on catalogs and inventories of antiques of the era (Chapel Room). From 28 January, we will discover the amazing work of the sculptor Franz Xaver Messerschmidt. Finally, the auditorium of the cinema program, concerts and lectures on the Enlightenment.

The conclusion of “The ancient dream” is the Louvre itself! Indeed, the museum opened its doors in 1793. For the first time were confronted on a massive scale the ancients, with the masterpieces of ancient sculpture, and modern, with the most famous artistic productions since the Renaissance.

Catalogs and inventories of antique eighteenth may, in turn, be considered what will lead to the Louvre and more broadly based history of art. Furthermore, I would remember – we too often forget – that the Louvre is also a major research center. It turns out that we are working on renovating the rooms of the decorative arts of the eighteenth century. However, any relocation requires reflection. Shows that you just mentioned are involved. With them, the whole time that we reconsider. This allows us to point out what is missing in our collections and building acquisition projects.

With carte blanche to present to Patrice Chereau, and soon to JMG Le Clezio, these major themes monopolize the business of the institution. Is it detrimental to the eclecticism of the programming?

I do not think. This year, before the eighteenth century and Patrice Chereau, we have had exhibitions of Russian art, in Arabia, but also contemporary art. But I like the idea a great theme: this is a way to order things. Internally, it promotes cross-departmental, and this results in a more holistic, multidisciplinary topics. Finally, it is a way to attract a wider audience for events that, singly, may seem too sharp.

Born in controversy, museum victim of its success

Twenty years after the inauguration of the Grand Louvre, the pyramid is the symbol, it is hard to remember the incredible controversy that has surrounded the announcement. The book by former Culture Minister Jack Lang, traces the “battle” of the Louvre, which lasted several years and exceeded the left-right divisions. The project (double surfaces, introduction of an underground, single entry under the Pyramid) hardly accepted by the Commission of Historic Monuments, 23 January 1984, a heated debate snaps.

At its front, France-Soir: “The new Louvre already scandal,” while an editorial by Jean Dutourd squeaks: “Poor France!” Le Canard chained mocks the work of “Uncle Khamon” Le Quotidien de Paris peak “pride, excess” of the president, while Le Figaro Magazine campaigned. It denounced the choice of architect IM Pei, who is outside any formal competition. A committee Anti-Grand Louvre turns up under the aegis of Michel Guy, former Secretary of State for Culture.

“As a cathedral”

The wave “anti” is largely driven by finance union head, who must leave the premises of the Louvre to settle eventually in the new Bercy in the twelfth arrondissement of Paris. In 1986, political alternation. The new finance minister, Edouard Balladur and Alain Juppe, in charge of Budget, return to their neighborhoods in the Richelieu wing!

“History will record that the project had support, including all the museum’s curators,” says Maryvonne de Saint Pulgent, former director of Government and author of the heritage of culture (1999).

The conservatives, who feel cramped, signed an open letter in support of Pei. The composer and conductor Pierre Boulez, the artist Pierre Soulages or director of the National Museum of Modern Art, Dominique Bozo, give voice to defend the work. Jacques Chirac, mayor of Paris, speaks of a high quality project. Finally, the Minister of Culture, Francois Leotard, confirms the Grand Louvre, which he estimates to cost 3 billion francs.

From the commencement of work, the public flocked to see the excavations and eventually approve. On March 12, 1989, the Pyramid and the Cour Napoléon is opened, without arousing the same passion. A few months after the removal of Finance in November 1993, the Richelieu wing was inaugurated in the presence of Edouard Balladur became the meantime, Prime Minister.

Today, with 60,000 square meters, the world’s largest museum hosts nearly 8.6 million visitors. The collections shown doubled. Guided tours, audio tours, children’s workshops, lectures and films have done their entry. Shops including a McDonald’s challenged along the way that leads to the rooms, and the Pyramid is a mecca for the great patron festivities. Outside, tourists are posing at his feet.

But the Louvre is a victim of its success. The noise is deafening at times, and the dense crowd in front of the crates. Difficult to leave his coat, or seeing the Mona Lisa properly on some Sundays. The direction of the Louvre has promised to review the conditions for receiving the public and, especially, to rethink the information given to it. Le Grand Louvre is like a cathedral: the main work will never end, “Judge Mary Saint Pulgent.

Darren Aronofsky On Budgets, Bad Apples, And ‘Black Swan’

NPR -By Linda Holmes (Listen To The Story)

Filmmaker Darren Aronofsky is getting significant Oscar buzz for his new film Black Swan, starring Natalie Portman as a very troubled ballet star. On today’s All Things Considered, Aronofsky talks to Robert Siegel about filmmaking in general and Black Swan in particular.

If it’s been a while since you checked in with Aronofsky, you might have been surprised to hear that he was making a movie about ballet. His previous project, after all, was the brutal film The Wrestler, for which star Mickey Rourke received an Oscar nomination.

As the director says, however, there are things that unite the dancers and wrestlers he places on screen: “Both films are about performers and performance.”

While you’ll hear in the interview about Black Swan‘s limited budget (he points out that $13 million really isn’t that much), you’ll also learn a little about the way those close to a filmmaker do their part to pitch in. Having his family help out on the set is, as Aronofsky explains, a tradition that started back when he made his first film, Pi, on a relative shoestring:

There was only eight people on the crew, so we really needed as many people as we could get. My mom did catering every day with her best friend, my Aunt Jo, and my dad filled in a few — when we needed another extra, he showed up in a suit and slicked back his hair and carried a suitcase.

But whether working with big budgets or small, Aronofsky works with some tortured, sometimes unpleasant main characters.

Asked about the fact that Portman’s Nina isn’t treated with great sympathy in Black Swan, he says:

Movies have really turned our heroes into one-dimensional characters, and you sort of really have to love these characters in most films. And I just — people aren’t really that way, and so this dancer is filled with ambition and stress, and she’s trapped, and she’s a prisoner. I was able to go there partly because I know people love Natalie Portman. So I got the sympathy votes very early from her, so I was comfortable with her pushing away.

But in the end, as much as he speaks enthusiastically about his films, look to this quintessentially independent director to deliver a ringing endorsement of his field. Aronofsky admits to having mixed feelings, even about the indie arena:

I’m on the fence with it. I used to be really encouraging, telling people, “Just go make the most original thing you can, the thing you think is best for your friends.” And I still — I teach, and I still talk about that. … [But] with the economic realities, there’s less money around; it’s a really tough time. But then again, for $2,000 you can buy cameras now that give any camera that Hollywood’s using a run for their money. And so you can make a small, interesting little film. So I don’t know. But it is buying a lottery ticket; I guess it comes down to persistence. If you really, really want to do it and you really want to work hard, there’s probably a future.

That is, you will note, quite a number of repetitions of the word “really.” Apparently, for that future to emerge, this particular director thinks you really, really have to want it.

LOA: Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and Bob Dylan: Desolation Angels led to “Desolation Row”

Way of St. James

The Way of St. James or St. James’ Way (Spanish: El Camino de Santiago, Galician: O Camiño de Santiago, French: Chemin de St-Jacques, German: Jakobsweg) is the pilgrimage to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain, where tradition has it that the remains of the apostle Saint James are buried.

The Way of St James has existed for over a thousand years. It was one of the most important Christian pilgrimages during medieval times, together with Rome and Jerusalem, and a pilgrimage route on which a plenary indulgence could be earned; other major pilgrimage routes include the Via Francigena to Rome and the pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

Legend holds that St. James‘s remains were carried by boat from Jerusalem to northern Spain where he was buried on the site of what is now the city of Santiago de Compostela. There are some, however, who claim that the bodily remains at Santiago belong to Priscillian, the fourth-century Galician leader of an ascetic Christian sect, Priscillianism, who was one of the first Christians to be executed .

The Way can take one of any number of pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela. Traditionally, as with most pilgrimages, the Way of Saint James began at one’s home and ended at the pilgrimage site. However a few of the routes are considered main ones. During the Middle Ages, the route was highly traveled. However, the Black Plague, the Protestant Reformation and political unrest in 16th-century Europe led to its decline.

By the 1980s, only a few pilgrims arrived in Santiago annually. Since then however the route has attracted a growing number of modern-day pilgrims from around the globe. The route was declared the first European Cultural Route by the Council of Europe in October 1987; it was also named one of UNESCO‘s World Heritage Sites.

Whenever St James’s day (25 July) falls on a Sunday, the cathedral declares a Holy or Jubilee Year. Depending on leap years, Holy Years occur in 5, 6 and 11 year intervals. The most recent were 1982, 1993, 1999, 2004, and 2010. The next will be 2021, 2027, and 2032.

The pilgrimage to Santiago has never ceased from the time of the discovery of St. James’ remains, though there have been years of fewer pilgrims, particularly during European wars. During the war of American Independence, John Adams was ordered by Congress to go to Paris to obtain funds for the cause.

His ship started leaking and he disembarked with his two sons in Finisterre in 1779, where he proceeded to follow the Way of St. James in the opposite direction, in order to get to Paris overland. He did not stop to visit Santiago, and came to regret this during the course of his journey. In his autobiography, he gives an accurate description of the customs and lodgings afforded to St. James pilgrims in the 18th century, and mentions the legend as it was then told to travellers:

“I have always regretted that We could not find time to make a Pilgrimage to Saint Iago de Compostella. We were informed, … that the Original of this Shrine and Temple of St. Iago was this. A certain Shepherd saw a bright Light there in the night. Afterwards it was revealed to an Archbishop that St. James was buried there. This laid the Foundation of a Church, and they have built an Altar on the Spot where the Shepherd saw the Light. In the time of the Moors, the People made a Vow, that if the Moors should be driven from this Country, they would give a certain portion of the Income of their Lands to Saint James. The Moors were defeated and expelled and it was reported and believed, that Saint James was in the Battle and fought with a drawn Sword at the head of the Spanish Troops, on Horseback. The People, believing that they owed the Victory to the Saint, very cheerfully fulfilled their Vows by paying the Tribute. …Upon the Supposition that this is the place of the Sepulchre of Saint James, there are great numbers of Pilgrims, who visit it, every Year, from France, Spain, Italy and other parts of Europe, many of them on foot.”

Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society,

 

Today tens of thousands of Christian pilgrims and other travellers set out each year from their front doorstep, or popular starting points across Europe, to make their way to Santiago de Compostela. Most travel by foot, some by bicycle, and a few travel as some of their medieval counterparts did, on horseback or by donkey (for example, the British author and humorist Tim Moore).

In addition to people undertaking a religious pilgrimage, there are many travellers and hikers who walk the route for non-religious reasons: travel, sport, or simply the challenge of weeks of walking in a foreign land. Also, many consider the experience a spiritual adventure to remove themselves from the bustle of modern life. It acts as a retreat for many modern “pilgrims”.

Analyzing Literature by Words and Numbers

NYT – By PATRICIA COHEN

Victorians were enamored of the new science of statistics, so it seems fitting that these pioneering data hounds are now the subject of an unusual experiment in statistical analysis. The titles of every British book published in English in and around the 19th century — 1,681,161, to be exact — are being electronically scoured for key words and phrases that might offer fresh insight into the minds of the Victorians.

This research, which has only recently become possible, thanks to a new generation of powerful digital tools and databases, represents one of the many ways that technology is transforming the study of literature, philosophy and other humanistic fields that haven’t necessarily embraced large-scale quantitative analysis.

Dan Cohen and Fred Gibbs, the two historians of science at George Mason University who have created the project, have so far charted how frequently more than two dozen words — among them “God,” “love,” “work,” “science” and “industrial” — appear in British book titles from the French Revolution in 1789 to the beginning of World War I in 1914…

Mr. Cohen and Mr. Gibbs’s “Reframing the Victorians” study is one of 12 university projects to win a new digital humanities award created by Google that provides money along with access to the company’s powerful computers and databases.

Some scholars are wary of the control an enterprise like Google can exert over digital information. Google’s plan to create a voluminous online library and store has raised alarms about a potential monopoly over digital books and the hefty pricing that might follow.

But Jon Orwant, the engineering manager for Google Books, Magazines and Patents, said the plan was to make collections and searching tools available to libraries and scholars free. “That’s something we absolutely will do, and no, it’s not going to cost anything,” he said.

One criterion in choosing projects to finance, he added, was whether they were going to create new data sets and computer codes that other researchers would find useful.

Mr. Gibbs and Mr. Cohen’s searches of book titles represent only an initial swipe at the data. Step 2 is canvassing the full texts. The professors will also have the ability to zero in on details, specific titles and passages.

Their starting point was an earlier work that focused on the written word as an entry point into the era: Walter E. Houghton’s “Victorian Frame of Mind, 1830-1870,” a landmark book published in 1957 that has shaped generations of scholarship, even as its conclusions have been challenged. Mr. Houghton sought to capture what he called a “general sense” of how middle- and upper-class Victorians thought, partly by closely reading scores of texts written during the era and methodically counting how many times certain words appeared. The increasing use of “hope,” “light” and “sunlight,” for instance, was interpreted as a sign of the Victorians’ increasing optimism…

Culinary art museum

EL PAÍS – VICENTE MOLINA FOIX

The death of the novel was followed by the death of theater, easel painting, and tonal music. Now comes the demise of plain Spanish cookery — roast suckling pig, grilled blood sausage. The auteur chef is the artist of modern life; and the restaurant, understood simply as a place to eat well, is on the way out.

Ferran Adrià, the Spanish auteur chef par excellence, has said this clearly enough, announcing the closure of his restaurant elBulli and its planned reopening, after three years of “profound reflection,” as a Creativity Center.

Adrià was the guest artist at the Documenta festival in Kassel in 2007. He has given courses at Harvard, and last year was the object of Food for Thought, Thought for Food — one of the most portentously vacuous books ever published, though its compiler-authors are, I believe, intelligent men.

Emboldened, perhaps, by the book and by the proliferating seminars and academic chairs of gastronomy, Adrià said recently that “normally no one argues with a scientist about his theories and equations, but in cooking everyone has an opinion.”

I recall Adrià’s words whenever a friend (usually female) invites me to eat in one of these temples of nouvelle cuisine, and, after the stiff bill has been paid, the friend asks me what I thought of the dishes — so exquisite, so recherché.

Out of prudence, or courtesy if she has paid, I say nothing. One no longer has the right to opine about the thickness of the sauce on the meatballs, the degree of salt in the cod, the sweetness of the rice pudding… The cook, who used to be a mere artisan, is now an artist, and advances his pretension to be a scientist.

Are we looking at the birth of an innovative sensuality of taste that my own palate, boorish and antiquated, is incapable of appreciating? The idea has occurred to me, suggested by a feeling that comes over me in connection with some (not all) exhibitions of the plastic arts, some novels and essays touted as a break with the past, and some films that, laden with prestigious prizes, arrive from Greece, Iran or Sundance.

And while a certain degree of sham is common to certain cuisines and certain vanguard arts, cooking does not really enter into the same sphere of jurisdiction as these arts. Whatever the auteur chefs and their house writers may tell us, eating is not yet an activity of the transcendental spirit.

Ferran Adrià has more than once been accused of using dangerous “molecular” ingredients, and a reputed German critic, Jörg Zipprick, has denounced the elBulli wizard’s systematic use of colorants, emulsions and polysaccharides that might cause intestinal cancer. Adrià has denied this, and the natural suspicion is that we are looking at a reactionary call to return to the beaten path.

I am the first to admit the value of a healthy diet, Mediterranean or otherwise, but I fail to see how a laboratory treatment of cabbage, so that it arrives on the table with “floating pumice” effects, constitutes any progress over dipping a chunk of bread into the broth at the bottom of a bowl of tripe and chickpeas.

Not to mention the loss of easy conviviality in favor of the experimental gravitas proper to these centers of high culinary art, where you have to wait years for a reservation, as for the Bayreuth festival. The very idea of eating under an artist’s eye gives me cramps, and whenever one of these great chefs, with the best of intentions, emerges from his kitchen to receive the applause of his guests, I think of the nightmare of being in a public library where 15 or 20 people are reading the latest Spanish novels, and a noted author appears, wanting to know what you think of the use of the narrative second person in chapter three, all without punctuation and with abundant footnotes, in his recent book.

Vicente Molina Foix is a writer.

“Behind every exquisite thing that existed, there was something tragic.”

Oscar Wilde   “The Picture of Dorian Gray”

end ;)

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