Thursday, September 5, 2013

Those inventions which abridge distance...

Courtesy: Will Anderson
From The History of England, from the Accession of James II - Volume 1 by Thomas Babington Macaulay:
Of all inventions, the alphabet and the printing press alone excepted, those inventions which abridge distance have done most for the civilisation of our species. Every improvement of the means of locomotion benefits mankind morally and intellectually as well as materially, and not only facilitates the interchange of the various productions of nature and art, but tends to remove national and provincial antipathies, and to bind together all the branches of the great human family. In the seventeenth century the inhabitants of London were, for almost every practical purpose, farther from Reading than they now are from Edinburgh, and farther from Edinburgh than they now are from Vienna.
This is an entry for Althouse's Philosophy of Travel question. Macaulay precedes this summation with a long comical passage about the travails of the 17th-century country squire visiting London. He stands under waterspouts; he is misdirected by thieves; he mistakes harlots for maids-of-honor. The first point is really the most compelling: beware of foreign plumbing.

Wryly, I admit, Macaulay's theme simply resolves to the received wisdom Althouse has already identified:
It broadens the mind.
But give Macaulay some credit. He probably created the received wisdom.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Largo Allargare

Posted at Althouse: 

"Memories are Made of This" could describe the whole series. The evocation of a father through music really speaks to me. I wanted to make that comment on your first posting in this series, but comments weren't turned on, so I'll make it now.

Courtesy: Wikipedia

My father is a great lover of classical music. When I was growing up he had a small but carefully selected record collection of Baroque and early Classical works: J.S. Bach, Handel, Telemann. St. Matthew's Passion on 33-1/3 LPs was a 5 record set, to be carefully stacked on the spindle so they could be released one-by-one onto the turntable, then flipped halfway through.

Mostly my father listened to classical music on the radio. NPR is nothing but self-aggrandizing chatter now, but back then it was mostly classical music.

On Sunday afternoons he would turn on the Metropolitan Opera, lie down on the living room couch, and listen with his eyes closed. During the intermissions he would get up to take care of the bills or just doze. He didn't care about the interviews or the plot summary. He disliked the details of intrigues and bloodletting. He just loved the music.

Parents create a sensory environment that you forget when you grow up and move away. You think in terms of memories, of stories, and forget the colors and smells and sounds. That's why they surprise you. On a visit some years ago I found my father listening to one of Gluck's operas. He had used inter-library loan to locate CDs of multiple versions and he was listening to each one all the way through and learning something new about the music through the different interpretations.

So for a long holiday weekend, I was immersed in my father's aural environment in a more cognizant way than I had been in a long time. It was incredibly poignant. Of all the many facets of my father -- his religious belief, his career as a scientist, his love for family -- classical music is his most personal passion; it is the way that he escapes to his own place.

Music is at once collective and individual. You can listen to the same music as another person, but how the music is experienced, even by someone you know and love, is a mystery. My father is not purposefully a mysterious man, which is one reason I love this about him.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

It Was Iris DeMent, By The Way

Just watched the Coen brothers remake of True Grit.

Courtesy The Christian Science Monitor
And now I want to talk with antique diction.

If my title makes no sense, watch the whole thing, all the way to the end. You won't be disappointed.

Hey JC, Watch it With the Nails

Althouse speculates about Jesus the carpenter:
But was he a good carpenter? He left the business to take up itinerant preaching, and at that, he was divine. But how was his carpentry?
John Everett Millais is all over it.

Courtesy: Wikipedia
He wasn't good with tools.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Fire Joe Morgan

I don't think that traditional and well-respected Times journalists have any idea how embarrassing this is to them and their paper:
A number of traditional and well-respected Times journalists disliked his work. The first time I wrote about him I suggested that print readers should have the same access to his writing that online readers were getting. I was surprised to quickly hear by e-mail from three high-profile Times political journalists, criticizing him and his work.
Courtesy Wikipedia
(Margaret Sullivan link via Althouse)

* * *

To get the headline, just read the quote and follow the link:
Why don’t you blog about other sports? We’ve dabbled in football. It’s just not as fun. I mean, really – who doesn’t like baseball? Not to mention: the long schedule, and the complex nature of baseball itself, and the weird way in which baseball writing is steeped in old-timey mythology and tradition and ignorance and distrust of modern analysis, all mean that there is a lot more bad writing about baseball than there is about other sports.
But not more than politics.

"Having gotten the idea that his father might be considered a traitor, the Son of Macduff asks his mother what a traitor is, and she replies, Why, one that swears and lies (4.2.47)"

Courtesy ESPN
If it were up to me, I would suspend him another full season for equivocation.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Tourist is a suitcase; Traveler is a horse

Althouse asks the question, "What do you think the difference is between a tourist and a traveler?"

I ask my wife, who loves to travel.

My wife says, "A tourist is someone who has gone someplace to be there and a traveler is on their way somewhere."

I say, "The traveler never gets there."

My wife says, "Nope. A tourist is all about being in a locale."

* * *

My first thought was that a Tourist is a suitcase and Traveler is a horse. Which fits exactly.

Courtesy Wikipedia

* * *

The bog local Unitarian church has an Elie Wiesel quote up on their signboard: God means movement and not explanation.