Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Stuff around the web

John Paul Rubens: Painter and spy.

tea at trianon blog links to a review of the new book.

And notes one difference between the past and today:

Artists, historically, were viewed as craftsmen, who were given their talents by God to bring beauty and light into the world, to raise man up to God, by the medium of art. It is in the Netherlands that oil painting first became the supreme art by the genius of Jan van Eyck. It is in the Netherlands that an artist obtained nobility, fame, and wealth by respectability virtue and above all his devotion to the Catholic faith. That artist was Peter Paul Rubens....Like Raphael or Michaelangelo in the 16th century, for Rubens, classical and mythological themes were often used as an expression of Christian virtue, and they saw no particular contradiction in it.


related item: Tolkien and Beowulf

“What are we to think of the nobility and heroism of the heathen past?  Was it all just evil, damned?” This question defined a serious controversy in the newly-Christian England of antiquity, and the consensus of Old English scholarship is that the Beowulf poem is, in part, a response to them. As Tolkien observes, the poem implicitly takes a side: “[T]he mere fact that the poet wrote a poem about the pagan past shows in general that he did not belong to the party that consigned the heroes (northern or classical) to perdition.”  Like Dante—who acknowledged Virgil as his guide and portrayed the pre-Christian Emperor Trajan in Paradise—the Beowulf poet recognizes that heathen expressions of truth, goodness, and beauty do have their place in the life of the Church.

I should note the subtle difference between this and today's multiculturalism: Multiculturalism denies anything can be good or bad (note that some were upset at ISIL being called "evil"). Catholic tradition sees all good things as a partial understanding of the real truth, and therefore to be encouraged or baptized into the faith, something that the Beowulf poet has done.


Freakonomics: discusses the high cost of "free" parking.

 Increasingly I think we’re paying for it in terms of the environmental harm that it causes. I did use data to estimate that parking subsidies in the United States are somewhere between 1 and 4 percent of the total GNP, which is about in the range of what we spend for Medicare or national defense. So that’s the cost of parking not paid for by drivers.


 from Improbable research: the paper claiming people got less upset if hurricanes had female names has been rebuked.

actually, here in the Philippines, we usually rename our typhoons to something easier than the "international" name, so they are easier to pronounce and remember.


Ebola has killed over 120 health workers in Africa.

yes, but the real death toll will be those dying of treatable diseases such as diarrhea and malaria, not to mention those dying in childbirth who won't deliver in a hospital for fear of catching ebola.

for later reading/watching:

One of our cities is missing.


also for later reading: Uncle Orson discusses the common core controversy.

Summary: It is a good idea, but the bad news is that it was devised by the same idiots who gave us modern math and reading fads that didn't work, and also it will be coopted by the politically correct.

he also discusses Plato, General Sherman (he had Mistresses? Don't tell General Petreus!) and King Lear.


a thoughful essay comparing Fergueson to Staten Island.

the social cohesiveness and trust was missing in Fergueson...


if you think that the birthcontrol/abortion pill mandate will stop here, you might want to see that California demands Catholic universities pay for health insurance that cover all abortions.


Wired discusses bees. and not just any bees, but BLUE BEES.

Bees in the genusThyreus are gasp-out-loud delightful with their shiny blues and teals.
Their beauty hides a deadly secret: the females are kleptoparasitic, a fancy way of saying they steal food and shelter from other bees. Thyreus bees don’t collect any pollen to store as food, and they don’t build nests. Instead of visiting flowers, they cruise around looking for underground nest openings of other bee species.

Includes a slideshow for later viewing.


Instapundit reports insect farming is the future.

I am always sceptical, because although many cultures eat bugs (Pinoys eat crickets, The Shona eat flying ants, and out west the pioneers ate locusts) the dirty little secret is that these things are not every day food.

And the "yuck" factor is big.

The Shona eat flying ants, but shrimp and crustacean foods are taboo: Sister Euphrasia almost starved when she boarded with Italian nuns while studying for her master's degree, because the nuns were vegetarian and ate lots of cheap fish and shell fish and shrimp. It got so bad that she moved to an American convent where beef and chicken were on the menu.

although I believe Locusts are halal for some Muslims, most insects are not.


No comments: