Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Perception of Beauty: The Cylon Take

Alright, I'm going to go a little nerdy here:
Battlestar Galactica.

I have been a ardent fan since it's creation (I'm talking about the new T.V. show here), and recently watched an episode that pertains greatly to today's lecture.
So for those of you who don't know the workings of the show, there are humans who are being chased around the universe by cylons. Cylons were machines created by man, rebelled, and over eons of time evolved into humanoids in order to deliver the final blow to the surviving human population.
Anyways, at one point in the show a cylon laments at the loss of his machine being:

Brother Cavil: In all your travels, have you ever seen a star go supernova?
Ellen Tigh: No.
Brother Cavil: No? Well, I have. I saw a star explode and send out the building blocks of the Universe. Other stars, other planets and eventually other life. A supernova! Creation itself! I was there. I wanted to see it and be part of the moment. And you know how I perceived one of the most glorious events in the universe? With these ridiculous gelatinous orbs in my skull! With eyes designed to perceive only a tiny fraction of the EM spectrum. With ears designed only to hear vibrations in the air.
Ellen Tigh: The five of us designed you to be as human as possible.
Brother Cavil: I don't want to be human! I want to see gamma rays! I want to hear X-rays! And I want to - I want to smell dark matter! Do you see the absurdity of what I am? I can't even express these things properly because I have to - I have to conceptualize complex ideas in this stupid limiting spoken language! But I know I want to reach out with something other than these prehensile paws! And feel the wind of a supernova flowing over me! I'm a machine! And I can know much more! I can experience so much more. But I'm trapped in this absurd body! And why? Because my five creators thought that God wanted it that way!

Just thought this was relevant--how the cylon (Brother Cavil) could perceive so much more in machine form, and how his humanity was limiting his perception.
Interesting how the beauty we see, our reality, is only a fraction of the scientific reality around us.

What if we could see x-rays, or feel the cosmic wind?
What would we perceive as beauty then?
Can a rose hold a flame to the magnetic fluctuations of the sun?

--Food for thought

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Silent Scream, incase you were interested.

I am a fan of media and counter cultures, and when you combine the two you usually get a really interesting result. Here is the Silent Scream part 1. I was surprised to find that it was not as bad as "Tails from the Crypt". It was worse, If you watch the whole thing you'll see why.


the use of film --> "The Meatrix"

I actually saw this in an anthropology class on food and cuisine. We've been discussing industrial food production and the treatment of Livestock.

Popular cultural references in argument: argumentum ad popculturem?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Nature as morally contested terrain

Here's an article on today's CNN newsfeed, about the fight over offshore wind farms near Cape Cod:

Nine-year wind farm fight splits Cape Cod

By Wayne Drash, CNN

  • Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to decide on fate of nation's first offshore wind farm
  • Site is in Nantucket Sound, one of America's most iconic bodies of water
  • Opponents concerned about historic preservation, safety
  • Advocates say project is a must to move country forward

Falmouth, Massachusetts (CNN) -- The Rev. William Eddy stands at the bow of his 53-foot sailboat nestled in the postcard setting of Cape Cod.

A lifelong resident of the Cape and islands, Eddy built his staysail schooner by hand, and on this day, he's using it as his pulpit. A perfect storm, he says, has been brewing over the past decade among residents driven to hysterics by the idea of building the nation's first offshore wind farm in the middle of Nantucket Sound.

Eddy loves everything about the Cape: the iconic shingled homes, the Norman Rockwell small towns and the pristine beauty of the sea. Most of all, the Episcopal priest loves the magnificent winds.

And he thinks it's a moral imperative to harness those winds. He's told his congregation just that -- and watched some walk out on his sermon. "Father, we all would've stayed if you had just preached about Darfur," one member told him.

Eddy is unbowed. "It's a no-brainer," he said of the wind farm. "I keep on wondering what's going to happen down there in Washington: Are they going to crucify this project on a cross of coal? Or are they going to stand up for what they've said they're going to stand up for?"

For those whose views differ from Eddy's -- including, apparently, some of his flock -- the pristine beauty he extols is the point. Nantucket Sound, they say, is an iconic symbol of America, not an industrial park. Might as well plop a bunch of wind turbines in the middle of the Grand Canyon, they say.

"It's an area that absolutely should be off-limits," said Audra Parker, president and CEO of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound.

Wind farms produce roughly 2 percent of the nation's energy, all from land-based facilities in California, Texas, Oklahoma, Wyoming and a few other states. Locations offshore are considered optimal because the winds are stronger and more consistent.

Read the rest of the article at

Never too late to change paper topics.

Nickelodeons: Child Corrupters?

In 1907, an article in the Chicago Daily Tribune denounced nickelodeons, early 20th century neighborhood film theaters, as "firetraps and tawdry corrupters of children." The newspaper seems to have a point in that, perhaps, these early theaters initiated what would later be known as childhood television addiction. One of the pictures show in class today underscores the Tribune's criticism. The child in the picture seemed to be stupified and even brainwashed by the film being shown. Are nickelodeons simply precursors for modern television entertainment that often serves as an addiction to bored youth? It seems so. However, to call them "tawdry corrupters" seems to be an assertion that exaggerates the truth unfairly.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sunday morning math quiz

(1) How many 5's are in a ten dollar bill? Gotta keep an open ear & be careful what people ask for.
Two tens for a five clip
(2) 25/5 = 14
(3) 2X2 = 5 !?
(4) 1 + 1 = 0
Have fun!

With Groucho

You never know what you're going to get...except for tears in your eyes and giggle pains in your side. Montage from Duck Soup, including hat gag and mirror clip.
Best of Groucho Things aren't always what they seem Street corner hat gag
I never was a Monty kinda gal. This, this does it for me!

Psst..Hey Aiden Ya find the darndest things while milling over term paper ideas. I've chosen the significance of the feather - from flying dino to quill pen... to star in 1994 box office hit along side Tom Hanks as a 'floater'. (Still working on the time line and details its got some kinks.) Anyhow, I came across this timeless clip from Horse Feathers. If you have 9mins this is part 1 - but at least watch this clip of Groucho singing! Good luck with your search.

I'm curious

What have people chosen for their term paper topics?

This is me avoiding doing reading for mine. :)
Aesthetics in urban management and land use policy... I'm reading a lot of Edmund Burke and Thoreau. Gotta get that Romantic Background.
- Aiden

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Book Titles: Short & Sweet or Longwinded & Drawnout

I discourage anyone from 'judging a book by its cover', but sometimes ya just can't help it!

Is it just me? or has anyone else noticed that book titles have become exceedingly longer and longer? While many famous (and some not so famous) books have consisted of ONE WORD titles , there are a handful of book titles I came across that have unnecessarily long, ridiculously extensive, and downright superfluous titles.

Literary Addict shows many books with long(ish) titles. But when you're sitting in your dorm on a Saturday night searching book titles (as probably only me would do) what better site than Guinness Book of World Records to locate the longest title ever!? Guinness gives the award to Davide Ciliberti who wrote a book that consists of 1,433 characters long (290 words).

Well, apparently Guinness hasn't heard of Nigel Tomm. He wrote a book with a title consisting of a whopping 670 words!! Just one character shy of 4,000! Is this phenomenal or what!?

Again, maybe it's just me, but if anyone can top Tomm's supercalifragilisticexpialidocious book title...please help put my mind at ease!

Thanx - ALI

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The attraction of dare devils

Here's the followup to the discussion of daredevils and Niagara Falls . . . You Tube's "Viral Video Film School," on how to make dare devil videos.

Kids, don't try this at home.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Bambi Sublime

This painting is amazing! Observing it closely, I was able to relate the "Bambi theme" with the idea of the sublime. It falls into the Hudson River School category as well, with the craggy tree barks as the framing, the body of water in the middle ground, and a majestic view in the distance. The deer are seen prancing through the dry woods. This painting has an element of unconventional beauty. Nature, in the scene, is serene but also a bit mysterious. It leaves me wondering: what story could be told about this painting? I suppose it's simply up to individual interpretation.

-Robin Simpson

Friday, April 2, 2010

J. M. W. Turner's Snowstorm

Read what Kenneth Clark has to say about Turner's Snowstorm:
"MY FIRST EMOTION is sharpened by amazement. There is nothing else remotely like it in European art, except, of course, other pictures by Turner, and I can understand why, until recently, critics brought up in the classical tradition were unwilling to accept such a freak. Not only is the subject exceptional, but the whole rhythmic organization is outside the accepted modulus of European landscape painting. We have been brought up to expect inside a frame a certain degree of balance and stability. But in Turner's Snowstorm nothing comes to rest. The swathes of snow and water swing about in a wholly unpredictable manner, and their impetus is deflected by contrary movements of spray and mysterious striations of light. To look at them for long is an uncomfortable, even an exhausting, experience."
Read more of Clark's essay at .