Saturday, 22 September 2012
INTERESTING STUFF: 22 September 2012
NEW RANDY NEWMAN PARODY SONG
Maybe I haven't been paying attention, but it seems to me it's been a long time since we've heard a political parody from Randy Newman. There is a a new one now, I'm Dreaming, that he told Rolling Stone is, in part, his reaction to the Republican Party and:
”Newman noted how the song was partially inspired by the racial undercurrents he saw in the intense vitriol directed at Barack Obama during his presidency. 'Still, it's clear that there are lots of people out there who are uncomfortable [with a black president],' he said.”
Personally, I think this one falls a little short compared to some of Newman's past work of this kind, but see what you think:
The song is available for free download here (I don't know for how long) where you can also read the lyric.
FRANKENFOOD FOOD FIGHT IN FRANCE
It's not just France anymore. The argument has circled the globe as countries and activists watch developments in France. Here is a sequence of events:
• A newly released study announced the finding of tumors, organ damage and premature death in rats fed with genetically modified corn from Monsanto.
• In a long-standing argument with the European Union that had found no evidence of risk from the corn, France upholds its ban on GM crops.
• Other researchers announce their skepticism of the findings. Many use the old "flawed methodology" argument.
• A spokesperson for California Right to Know, working for passage of Prop. 37 in November which would require labeling of genetically engineered foods, jumped on the story saying that the most
"...important and shocking part of it is that this is the first available long-term study on GMOs, which have been in the food supply for the better part of 20 years.”
• On Thursday, the French government ordered a rush food-safety review of the study and Monsanto GM corn.
Where do you stand on genetically modified or engineered food?
TO PHOTOGRAPH THE ELUSIVE BOBCAT
Michael Forsberg is an American wildlife photographer. This video is an excerpt from his presentation which was part of a full program about the American Great Plains from the California Academy of Sciences.
You can view the entire American Great Plains video at fora.tv.
SUPERHERO VICTORY GARDEN
I continue to be charmed by the daily email offerings from the Retronaut website that I've mentioned before and will undoubted do again.
One day this past week, they sent a collection of U.S. government posters from World War II promoting victory gardens to reduce pressure on the food supply.
You can see more Victory Garden posters here.
IMAGINATIVE COAT SALE IN DENMARK
See, I told you I'd mention Retronaut again. This photo is from a 1936 coat sale in Copenhagen.
As the news clipping at Retronaut explains:
“Overstocked with a large supply of men's spring and winter coats, a clothier...erected a scaffolding around his store building and completely covered it from roof to sidewalk with more than a thousand overcoats. The novel display attracted prospective customers in such droves that police were summoned.
“Although the police ordered the proprietor to remove the display, he succeeded in selling all the overcoats.”
OLIVER SACKS' EXPERIENCE WITH HALLUCINOGENS
You probably know of neurologist Oliver Sacks from his fascinating books reporting on the oddities of some of his patients. Books like Seeing Voices, The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat and Awakenings about the doctor's work with L-Dopa which was made into a film starring Robin Williams and Robert DeNiro.
His latest book, due in November, is Hallucinations and in this video, he talks about his personal experience with LSD and other hallucinogens.
Hmmm. Sounds pretty close to my own experiences with LSD, mescaline and such back in the day.
CHARLES BLOW ON ROMNEY'S SPEECH
For months, people have been opining that Mitt Romney's reactionary positions on issues were only for the rabble Republican base and that if elected, his moderate roots would resurface.
I've never believed that and so among the piles and piles of commentary on Mitt Romney's “secret” speech to high rollers in Florida that was revealed this past week, the number one best for me came from New York Times Op-Ed columnist, Charles Blow.
It is titled, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Shrieks" and Blow begins like this:
“'When people show you who they are believe them; the first time.' That comes from the inimitable Maya Angelou (via the equally inimitable Oprah). And I agree. So I’m inclined to take Mitt Romney at his word when he disparages nearly half the country to a roomful of wealthy donors on a secretly recorded tape.”
Blow finishes with this:
”One doesn’t have to operate with great malice to do great harm. The absence of empathy and understanding are sufficient. In fact, a man convinced of his virtue even in the midst of his vice is the worst kind of man.
“Mitt Romney keeps showing America who he is. When will we start to believe him?”
Now go read the middle part of Blow's column. It's worth it.
9/11 BOAT LIFT FROM MANHATTAN
Although this video says no one knows about the ad hoc boat lift on 9/11 that ferried half a million people off Manhattan island in nine hours, I knew about it. I heard a lot about it in New York City and that must have been via the newspapers and TV. Maybe only local news covered the story - I have a strong memory of the video - and it didn't get reported outside of the city.
Anyway, someone did a wonderful thing by making this little documentary and it's just as terrific whether you knew about the boat lift or did not. Tom Hanks narrates and don't be put off by its 11-minute length. You won't even notice the time going by. (Hat tip to Veronica Mulqueen)
THE HAWKING GLOVE OF HENRY VIII?
I've recently finished reading the first two books of what will be a trilogy about Thomas Cromwell during the reign of Henry VIII.
They are written by Hilary Mantel and the first, Wolf Hall, won the 2009 Man Booker prize – as well it should. Mantel is brilliant and these are the best historical fiction I've ever read – page turners all the way even though you know what happens next.
One of the reasons museums are important and enthralling is that they bring the past alive with historical artifacts that help us imagine the lives of people from a few hundred and even thousands of years ago.
So, put those two things together – Mantel's books and artifacts from the past - and you'll see why I was thrilled to run across a photo of a hawking glove that possibly belonged to Henry VIII while I was reading Mantel's books which mention the king's falconry.
It is probable that this particular glove was owned and used by Henry VIII and seeing it knocks my socks off. You can read about the glove's provenance at this museum website.
JASMINE THE GREYHOUND HEALER
Darlene Costner forwarded the email story of Jasmine, the starving, mistreated greyhound who became a healer to other lost and ailing animals. It has been making the email rounds for two or three years and is – oh, never mind. Just take a look at this animated video:
Among those who only read the email and don't track down the video, there have been plenty of skeptics – enough so that Snopes looked into it and pronounced the story true. You can read the original email and see some photos here.
I checked around the web some more and found this live action news story about Jasmine:
Interesting Stuff is a weekly listing of short takes and links to web items that have caught my attention; some related to aging and some not, some useful and others just for fun.
You are all encouraged to submit items for inclusion. Just click “Contact” in the upper left corner of any Time Goes By page to send them. I'm sorry that I probably won't have time to acknowledge receipt and there is no guarantee of publication. But when I do include them, you will be credited and I will link to your blog if you have one.