Posted by: Patrick Allen Foster | October 10, 2016

Random Art Blogging, October 2016

Frits Thaulow - The Adige River at Verona - Walters 3797

Frits Thaulow, The Adige River at Verona, circa 1894.

Source: Wikimedia Commons.

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Posted by: Patrick Allen Foster | September 30, 2015

Random Art Blogging

Jean-Baptiste Armand Guillaumin 002

Jean-Baptiste Armand Guillaumin, Landscape, circa 1870.

Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Posted by: Patrick Allen Foster | August 31, 2015

Assorted Links

Glacier Peak 7137b

1. “Have Republicans Learned to Love the Berlin Wall?”: “Yes, you read that right. A former White House official and Reagan aide is demanding that Mexico maintain a Berlin Wall to keep its own citizens from escaping.”

2. Ann Althouse on the psychohistorical forces leading to Trump: “Consider whether Trump is revealing something that has long been true about the American presidency, that he is not such a great outlier. And I’m not just talking about Obama. I’m thinking about all the Presidents I remember in my lifetime. It’s a trajectory, and if you plot it out, you’d see that Trump is next. Trump is next, we are idiots, and we are screwed.”

3. On Benedict Cumberbatch as Hamlet.

4. The Wild Effect and the Pacific Crest Trail: “Cheryl Strayed’s bestselling memoir about hiking the trail was published in the spring of 2012, and the film version starring Reese Witherspoon came out in December of last year. Before the book was published, about 300 people would take out permits to attempt the full hike, which usually takes four to five months. It’s not yet known how many will try this year, but estimates range from 1,600 to 3,000 — 10 times the number who tried before the book came out.”

5. Game of Thrones is planning on eight seasons.

Image Credit: Glacier Peak, Washington. Photo by Walter Siegmund, August 2003. Used under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Posted by: Patrick Allen Foster | July 25, 2015

Saturday Link Collection

Walnut Street Bridge

So. What’s been happening since I more-or-less went into radio silence:

The UK election. A major earthquake devastated Nepal. ISIS, somehow, endures in Mesopotamia. The Greeks voted to reject proposed terms, and then, when the Powers That Be in Europe were unmoved, the Greek government and parliament accepted substantially the same terms (if not worse). The Affordable Care Act survived its latest litigated challenge. SCOTUS has made marriage equality the law of the land. The US Women’s National Team won the World Cup in spectacular fashion. New Horizons visited Pluto, successfully. The Iran deal. Charleston. Confederate flags have started coming down, even in South Carolina (I would not have predicted that).

And, a week-and-a-half ago, a man decided to shoot up my hometown, killing four marines and one sailor.

Some links for your consideration:

1. A good start: the president has commuted the sentences of 46 nonviolent offenders.

2. Steve Saideman: not every threat is an existential threat.

3. “No matter what the parliament decides and whether Greece ultimately stays in the euro or leaves, Europe will pay a price down the road for such a vengeful act.”

4. A schematic guide to the Iran nuclear deal.

5. “No, it’s not your opinion. You’re just wrong.”

6. Frequently asked questions about visiting Japan.

7. An interview with Judy Greer.

8. Big changes are coming to Firefox, supposedly.

9. Sadly, Judge Richard Kopf has decided to stop blogging.

Image Credit: Walnut Street Bridge, Chattanooga, Tennessee. Photo by Zack Johnston, December 2, 2005. Used under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Posted by: Paul A. Forsyth | July 15, 2015

Photo of the Day

Charon by New Horizons on 14 July 2015

Pluto’s moon Charon, as imaged by the New Horizons spacecraft, July 14, 2015.

I am told that the dark region toward the north pole of Charon has provisionally been designated Mordor.

Image Source: NASA via Wikimedia Commons.

Posted by: Paul A. Forsyth | July 13, 2015

Getting Close!

PIA19702-Pluto-HeartFeature-NewHorizons-20150707

Fig. 1: Pluto as imaged by the New Horizons spacecraft, July 7, 2015, at a distance of approximately 8 million km.

New Horizons Full Trajectory Sideview

Fig. 2: New Horizons trajectory through July 13.

Image Source: NASA via Wikimedia Commons.

Posted by: Patrick Allen Foster | June 21, 2015

Sunday Link Collection

1. At Crooked Timber, Gabriel Winant writes about the waning value of democratic citizenship:

Citizenship is waning. There are the obvious, brutal signs of this: the police apparently have a free hand to kill and cage certain citizens, more or less as they see fit; the fiscal state is crippled by the ability and willingness of its wealthier subjects to refuse taxation; voters must now share political space with corporations, their new legal equivalents in significant elements of democratic life. In many places, especially poorer places like Greece and Detroit, unelected bureaucracies now explicitly overrule the will of electorates. Then there are the more paradoxical data points indicating the civic crisis. As the value of democratic citizenship declines, for example, those who still have it behave more defensively, throwing up border walls and voting for neo-nationalists. The deportee prison, the mass drownings in the Mediterranean, the rise of Golden Dawn, UKIP, and the National Front: these phenomena signal the dissipation of citizenship as much as the overweening power of the European Central Bank or the quasi-colonial occupation of Ferguson do. When your portion is diminishing, you want to ration it out more stingily. If you’ve only got a little at all, though, what do you do?

Please do read the whole thing.

2. How would Ulysses be received if it were first released today? (H/T: 3 Quarks Daily.)

3. Noah Smith on the feminism of Mad Max: Fury Road.

4. Kelsey Snyder in Wired: Hollywood sets up its female superheroes to fail.

5. At Slate, Willa Paskin reviews Poldark: “Each episode of the series comes to resemble a procedural in the consistency of its beats: Poldark faces a setback, which he overcomes by throwing in not with his fellow gentleman but with the poor, achieving a near-happy ending. … Poldark has no patience for dramatic tension. It is always in a rush. It turns what should be a deliciously drawn-out love story into a fait accompli.”

6. How the Scooby Doo gang would dress throughout each decade of the 20th Century.

7. What is code?

Posted by: Patrick Allen Foster | June 18, 2015

Waterloo

Battle of Waterloo

The Battle of Waterloo was fought 200 years ago today.

In this post, Anderson pushes back against the popular/conventional assertion that Waterloo was one of the “Great” or Decisive Battles of history:

The battle was a famous victory, but TBA opines it was neither decisive nor particularly interesting. Napoleon was gambling that he could bloody the Allies’ noses so badly with a defeat in detail (i.e., defeating separated elements of their army) that he could negotiate a return to power. But the Allies were done with him, and had been since 1814. There is no plausible scenario where they would’ve accepted Napoleon’s return. Had he swept the field at Waterloo, another coalition army would have been put together.

Nor, close-run thing tho it may have been, was Waterloo a great battle as, say, Austerlitz was a great battle: a tactical masterpiece. For whatever reason, Napoleon’s tactical genius abandoned him, and he spent the day hurling troops into a frontal attack on a strong Allied (less than half British) position.

But mainly, this anniversary gives me an excuse to offer this xckd comic:

Image Credits: (1) Wikimedia Commons; (2) Randall Munroe, xkcd (CC BY-NC 2.5).

Posted by: Patrick Allen Foster | June 15, 2015

Game of Thrones Season 5

Hadrianswall2007

Game of Thrones wrapped up its fifth season Sunday evening.

The show had a strong finish for the season, but pacing was an issue all season long.* While the showrunners spent two full seasons developing plots adapted from the third volume of Martin’s series (A Storm of Swords), in season 5 they rushed through the material of two books in one season. This frantic pace meant that some plots were rushed — like the situation in King’s Landing, where the evolution of the Faith Militant and the rise of the High Sparrow did not have time to show the ominous, gradual, grassroots growth that shows in A Feast for Crows. And some plots were distorted and rendered unintelligible and meaningless by the process of condensation. The Dorne storyline was never my favorite storyline in the books, but the story on the page in A Feast for Crows was markedly better than what HBO delivered this season. The Sand Snakes fell flat, which is especially disappointing after Oberyn Martell (portrayed by Pedro Pascal) made such a splash in season 4. And whatever the weaknesses of the Dorne plot in the book, it is clear at the end that Doran Martell, Prince of Dorne, is a crafty man and most definitely has a larger plan, as much as Varys or Littlefinger. Basically none of that came across this season — which is almost a waste of an excellent actor.

On the plus side, almost everything having to do with the storyline at the Wall was executed very well.

Anyway, some linkage (SPOILERS at all the links):

1. Dave Schilling, Grantland: “My god, the Sand Snakes. Can we talk about this? Did the writing staff of Game of Thrones add a 12-year-old to the room? I was half-expecting Kevin Sorbo or Louis Gossett Jr. to show up for an episode as Doran’s plot device/bodyguard, which frankly would have been an upgrade. After 10 episodes, the Sand Snakes accomplished two things: helping their mom kill Myrcella and fulfilling HBO’s nudity requirement. That could have taken half of one episode. You could have even skipped the nudity, folks. When was the last time Game of Thrones was even remotely titillating? After the 500th sexual assault and the millionth beheading, I’d be more excited by Dennis Franz’s bare cheeks on a rerun of NYPD Blue than this show.”

2. Jamelle Bouie, on the penultimate episode of the season: “So, my entire thought while watching that scene in the fighting pits with the Sons of the Harpy was ‘I wish dragons existed during Reconstruction,’ since — in the context of Game of Thrones — the Sons of Harpy are basically the Ku Klux Klan, and a world where Union soldiers soared through the Louisiana bayou burning Klansmen is a good world.”

Read More…

Posted by: Patrick Allen Foster | June 13, 2015

Saturday Link Collection

1. The North-South Divide on Two-Parent Families. (H/T: Althouse.)

2. A proposed footbridge in London is inspiring outrage.

3. Note to self: if ever climbing Mt. Kinabalu in Malaysia, do not pose for semi-nude photos at the summit.

4. This interactive map shows when different buildings in Los Angeles were built.
(H/T: Erik Loomis, LGM.)

5. Guardian: “Secret Aid Worker: After years in the field, I worry I’ve lost my compassion.” (H/T: Chris Blattman.)

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