Thursday, March 31, 2011

Objectivist Round Up #194

Welcome to the 194th Objectivist Round Up!
Man—every man—is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others. He must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life.
Ayn Rand, Introducing Objectivism, 1962

If you're new to Objectivism, please see The Ayn Rand Institute or the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights for more information. I'd recommend that you read her fiction and non-fiction and judge what she has to say for yourself.

Please enjoy this week's collection of posts written and submitted by bloggers animated by Objectivism.

Jared Rhoads presents Twead #9: Rollback posted at The Lucidicus Project, saying,
"Our latest twead is the new book, "Rollback," by Thomas Woods. Note: Woods, the author of the book covered here, is not an Objectivist."

Diana Hsieh presents Justice for Henry posted at NoodleFood, saying, “Katie Granju shares the story of her son's death -- and the local authorities' refusal to investigate it, despite compelling evidence of crimes committed against him.”

Edward Cline presents The Symbiosis Between Islam and Multiculturalism posted at The Rule of Reason, saying, “We begin with a brief description of the origins of multiculturalism by Lewis Loffin, in his article, “The Nazi Roots of Multiculturalism,” about the deleterious effects of multiculturalism.”

Jared Seehafer presents 'Virtual' Ayn Rand Lecture Coming to a Campus Near You on March 31st! posted at The Undercurrent Blog, saying, “On March 31st, Yaron Brook is giving an exciting lecture examining how ideas have shaped today's events. You can watch online or sign up to help run a local live event!”

Victoria Genther presents Enter Our Spring 2011 Distribution Story Contest! posted at The Undercurrent Blog, saying, “Enter The Undercurrent's Spring distribution contest and win up to a $75 Amazon gift card!”

Jim May presents Why Won't they Fight Me? posted at The New Clarion, saying, “apply my Road to Hell metaphor to the ongoing discussion of C. Bradley Thompson's book on neoconservatism.”

Hannah Eason presents - Words - Singler Pure: Capitalism and Sex in Basketball posted at Hannah, Writer, saying, “This blog answers the contention that money is the factor which makes professional sports less enjoyable than college sports.”

Andy Clarkson presents "The War Against The Jews Goes On" posted at The Charlotte Capitalist, saying, “In my post, "The Ultimate Cause of the Triumphs and Tragedies of Jewish Culture", I named the implicit acceptance of reason in Jewish culture as that ultimate cause. This article by former mayor Koch provides further evidence of this premise. In this case, the Jews were victims of Hitler's irrational hatred of reason. They were persecuted not for crimes against other humans, but for their use of reason in their careers.”

Ari Armstrong presents Stripper Welfare Illustrates Why Charity Should Be Voluntary posted at Free Colorado, saying, “When charity is voluntary, donors are more likely to ensure the funds are prudently used, and recipients are less likely to view the gift as an entitlement.”

John Drake presents Reading my kid's mind posted at Try Reason!, saying, “ A parenting success story. Sometimes, you have to know what your kids are thinking in order to help them. Especially when they are too young to tell you what they are thinking.”

Zip presents I Wish. posted at UNCOMMON SENSE, saying, “I imagine an Atlas Shrugged type collapse, a greatest depression, widespread social chaos spread across the entire planet. I see an unstoppable absolute and irretrievable end to the world as we know it and I think...”

Rational Jenn presents This is How I Fail posted at Rational Jenn, saying, “I've come a long way in my battle against the Perfectionism Monster, and I've just added a new tools to my arsenal: listing out my achievements so that I can remember to put my failures in perspective.”

Gene Palmisano presents Lets Not Forget Iran posted at The Metaphysical Lunch, saying, “Juxtapose Iran and Libya, then tell me which one deserves military intervention.”

Gene Palmisano presents Where are the Arabs? posted at The Metaphysical Lunch, saying, “The title speaks volumes.”

Edward Cline presents Caesar, God and Allah posted at The Rule of Reason, saying, “A friend asked why Islam could not separate mosque from state as Christianity, after centuries of turmoil, war, and persecution, was able to separate church from state, and consequently become less of a peril to our freedoms. The first thing to come to mind in the way of a device to illustrate why Islam cannot emulate Christianity was the answer Christ is attributed to have given, in Mark and Luke in the Bible, to Jews about why they should or should not pay Rome’s taxes.”

Benjamin Skipper presents Don't Be a Baby: Talking About Problems Constructively posted at Musing Aloud, saying, “Talking about your problems with other people may be soothing in its venting, but if you're not careful with your wording you could very easily lose your listeners.”

Scott Connery presents Islam Says: Get Raped and Go to Jail! posted at Rational Public Radio, saying, “Recently I've been struggling with the issue of moderate Muslims. Is it possible for Muslims to be moderate and yet still more or less adhere to their faith? The modernity and progress of some Muslim countries argues yes. The tale of Alicia Gali argues no.”

Julia Campbell presents pork chops with cherry rhubarb chutney + mustard greens + herbed roasted sweet potatoes posted at the crankin' kitchen!, saying, “This chutney is a great first usage of the season of rhubarb. The pork chops are also served alongside spicy mustard greens.”

Rachel Miner presents Mentors posted at The Playful Spirit, saying, “I share my initial steps in setting up mentors for my son. If you're up for loading the 40 second video, I don't think it's watchable without a smile.”

Roderick Fitts presents Induction and Reduction of “Sex is Metaphysical” posted at Inductive Quest, saying, “My induction that sex pertains to your view of yourself and of your world. This is the second-to-last induction of the "Objectivism Through Induction" course, so cheer me on as I soon begin to do these inductions by myself.”

Diana Hsieh presents New OList: OPeople posted at NoodleFood, saying, “OPeople is a new OList e-mail list for announcements of OList social events -- and, if enough funds are pledged, friendly off-topic chatter.”

Paul Hsieh presents The Next Stage in Massachusetts posted at We Stand FIRM, saying, “Massachusetts has been the "canary in the coal mine" for the national-level health care debate. New proposed laws in MA could be a foretaste of the what the rest of the country can expect unless ObamaCare is repealed.”

James Hughes presents The Light of the World posted at Temple of the Human Spirit, saying, “Take some time to reflect on the glorious achievement that is nuclear power, at a time when it is under attack from all sides.”

David Lewis presents The Myth Of Buy & Hold: Why Market Timing Matters posted at A Revolution In Financial Planning, saying, “I kill a sacred cow this week, but I try to do so in a humane manner. I discuss why I think you *must* time the market, even when you "buy and hold" investments.”

Stephen Bourque presents Yaron Brook at Babson College posted at One Reality, saying, “Why does society reject free markets and like the idea that the government will solve our problems? Yaron Brook asked—then answered—this question in an exhilarating speech, 'Capitalism without Guilt: The Moral Case for Freedom,' at Babson College Monday night.”

Edward Cline presents Obama’s “Humanitarian” War-Fighting Philosophy posted at The Rule of Reason, saying, “Humanitarians are famously but deceptively indiscriminate in their generosity and with the dispensing of largesse, whether the latter comes from their own wealth or from extorted taxpayer revenue. As long as the object of their charity is “in need” or “needy,” it matters not to the humanitarian. His measure of “need” is both the “virtue” of poverty, and a poverty of virtue.


And join the Round Up next week at The Playful Spirit.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Weirdy or Synesthete?

Since the time she learned her alphabet, my youngest daughter has insisted that she sees the letters of the alphabet, as well as numbers and words, as colors. That’s nice, dear, was my typical response the first thirty times. Her insistence about the sensation was matched only by her consistency about which colors represented which letters. Still, I figured it was some kind of early memory that mapped these letters and numbers to these colors. 

Then I heard about synesthesia. I’m not sure where or when I first heard of it, but I was attracted to the name because it seemed the root was the pretty esthete and syn always brings things together nicely. Turns out, the root is aisthesis, which means perception, and synesthesia is a neurological condition in which signals cross-over different parts of brain to make essentially joined perceptions of the sensory data. It’s fascinating! While studies so far do not rule out the impact of strong early memory mapping, it is thought that everyone is born with a form of synesthesia, but only some who have reinforced the condition retain it.

Here is an example of some of her neurological cross-overs:

A is pink or reddish
B is sort of blue
E is kind of green
O is white
V is purplish
W is orange
Y and L are steely
Z is black
1 is whitish
3 is bluish purple
5 is blue
49 is orange AND dark, dark green

Even numbers are yellow-green
Odd numbers are blue to purple range (thus she called those colors her odd colors)

Words also have colors associated with them, but the colors blend, or will shift to be in concert with the colors of the other letters in the word.  For example:
Alisyn (a light yellow-green)
Allison (a whiter yellow-green – because O is white, dur.)
Purple is purple, but the r in it stands out as red.

Additionally, she describes sharp pains as high notes, and dull pains as low notes. This makes sense to me.

When I told her that there was a name for this type of extra mapping, she thought it was very cool.  When I told her it was probably different parts of her brain making random connections between themselves, she said, Great! I’m a freak!

But this is what Dr. Eric Chudler says in Neuroscience for Kids,

Many researchers are interested in synesthesia because it may reveal something about human consciousness. One of the biggest mysteries in the study of consciousness is what is called the "binding problem." No one knows how we bind all of our perceptions together into one complete whole. For example, when you hold a flower, you see the colors, you see its shape, you smell its scent, and you feel its texture. Your brain manages to bind all of these perceptions together into one concept of a flower. Synesthetes might have additional perceptions that add to their concept of a flower. Studying these perceptions may someday help us understand how we perceive our world.

That sounds like an interesting idea to her mother who tastes metal and feels the ridges of a spiral bound notebook on the tip of her tongue in an imagined lick whenever she speaks the word cling.

So who’s the weirdy? (By the way, weirdy must be spoken as if by Mickey Rooney in Night at the Museum.)

It turns out that there are many forms of synesthesia. Here, Oliver Sacks talks about musical synesthesia:

More interesting to me is that the extra connections might not be so arbitrary after all.

Give this little random shape-name test a try:

Which shape is named Bouba and which is named Kiki?

It’s obvious to me which is who. Is it clear to you? As explained in Wikipedia,

In both the English and the Tamil speakers, 95% to 98% selected the curvy shape as "bouba" and the jagged one as "kiki", suggesting that the human brain is somehow able to extract abstract properties from the shapes and sounds.

The rounded shape may most commonly be named "bouba" because the mouth makes a more rounded shape to produce that sound while a more taut, angular mouth shape is needed to make the sound "kiki". The sounds of a K are harder and more forceful than those of a B, as well. The presence of these "synesthesia-like mappings" suggest that this effect might be the neurological basis for sound symbolism, in which sounds are non-arbitrarily mapped to objects and events in the world.

The human brain is endlessly fascinating. For example, Stephen decided to try to use the iocane powder logic in answering the question when I showed him the shapes, but that’s another issue entirely.

So as to weirdy or synesthete, I say why limit yourself? 

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Winds of Fate

Thanks to a commenter, I found this awesome series of commercials in which inspiring poems (or parts thereof) are read by famous people for the Union Bank of Switzerland under the unifying title: Thoughts that Transcend Time.  And these certainly do.

Hello. Maggie Smith anyone?

by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
One ship drives east, and another west
With the self-same winds that blow;
'Tis the set of the sails
And not the gales
That decides the way to go.
Like the winds of the sea are the ways of fate,
As they voyage along through life;
'Tis the will of the soul
That decides its goal,
And not the calm or the strife.

Does it get any more elegant than that?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Calling Me Names

Husband: I need to call you something else at the gym.
Wife: Why?
Husband: I can't keep saying, "Nice job, Hun."
Wife: Okay. You may call me Supreme Ruler of the Universe.
Husband: I was thinking, Lynne.
Daughter (interjecting and speaking for me): "And Mrs. Darcy, but only when you're completely in love with me."

Friday, March 25, 2011


William Ernest Henley (1849-1903)

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

First and Lasting

Last month, my daughter and I watched this classic movie; it was her first and my last impression of Elizabeth Taylor.

This afternoon, we'll watch this - my first and lasting memory of Elizabeth Taylor.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

5 Movies in 5 Minutes (IV)

Even though I’ve seen plenty of movies over the last year and a half, there hasn’t been a time when we had a big movie feeding frenzy about which my limited memory could report.  In the last week or so, I’ve seen all five of these movies and am therefore pleased to finally present another installment of 5 movies in 5 minutes.

Red, 2010

Starring: Bruce Willis, Mary-Louise Parker, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich

Did you see that cast? I had to like this movie! But I really did. I thought Mary-Louise Parker was completely charming as the kidnapped government worker looking for love, Bruce Willis still makes a convincing action hero, and I really can’t say more about Helen Mirren than what I’ve already said (which amounts to this: I love her). The movie is about a retired black-ops agent who is suddenly marked for assassination by an equally skilled working CIA agent.  In his desire to root out the enemy, the Retired Extremely Dangerous Willis character begins to collect the best of other REDs, friends and enemies.  After lots of plotting, shooting, blowing up of things, and the required evil Corporate Oligarchy king pin, the story is really about the search for love, and the good guys win. Karl Urban is one to watch. (7)

Beastly, 2011

Starring Alex Pettyfer, Vanessa Hudgens, Neil Patrick Harris

We saw this at the theatre. No one over 15 is really in danger of seeing this in the theatre, but I’m usually game (aka: a sucker) for a modern retelling of an old romantic fairy tale.  After the first twenty minutes of the movie, I was jonesing for the singing teapot and the randy candelabra.  Vanessa Hudgens – cute as a button – can’t act. Mary-Kate Olsen as the witch was reminiscent of Linda Blair in the Exorcist and yet, I don’t think that bloated, possessed look was on purpose. The boy, Alex Pettyfer was actually pretty good, but any scene in which Neil Patrick Harris appeared was like an enjoyment-oasis that saved me from drowning in my jujubes.  (3)

Burlesque, 2010

Starring Cher, Christina Aquilera, Stanley Tucci, and the evil vampire, James, from Twilight

In the interest of full disclosure, I must report that I love Cher. Armed with this information, you might better understand when I say that my lingering sense of this movie is sadness. Fabulous Cher’s face no longer moves; her solo number was so forced I almost had to leave the room in a fit of transference of embarrassment. The miscasting of the erstwhile plucky and clever Veronica Mars, Kristen Bell, as the drunken, vindictive Nikki, was distracting. Stanley Tucci, as always, was wonderful and a pleasure to watch. But most importantly, the developing love story between the two main characters played by Christina Aguilera and Cam Gigandet, was unconvincing – though he was rather cute.  I tolerated, but did not even enjoy, the song and dance numbers. This is the very mark of a failure in my book. (4, only because I watched it at home and did not fall asleep.)

These next two movies were part of our homeschool efforts. I like to compare and contrast books we read with the movies that were inspired by them. If there is more than one movie version, we’ll compare and contrast those as well.  When we read The Last of the Mohicans, we watched three versions of the movie – none of which did justice to Uncas, the heroic, romantic, and tragic last of the Mohicans.  But I digress.

Starring Gregory Peck.

There isn't much I can add about this movie except this: if you haven’t seen it in a while, do yourself a favor and watch it again – or better yet – read the book again. My twelve year-old was disappointed that it wasn't more about Scout, the narrator of the novel, but she wasn’t too disappointed in the difference between the fleshed-out movie version of Scout and the magnificent one she created from the pages of Harper’s incomparable novel. Overall review: Proof that ham is good for you and Atticus rocks.  (9)

Starring Gerard Depardieu.

I was excited to see this version because I had only seen the 1950s version with José Ferrer in black and white. This one was French with English subtitles. What bothered my daughter most is that the English subtitles didn’t rhyme as the poetry in the English translation of the book we read did (even though it was reported to be translated into rhyming couplets). Still – it was Gerard Depardieu; He’s hard not to like. I liked Roxane and Christian, but my daughter found neither of them particularly attractive. The movie was well done adaptation of the play and the scene where Cyrano speaks instead of Christian under the vines below the balcony was more convincing than in the book, but that’s what staging and props’ll do for you. The story is heartbreaking and the passage of wasted time as visible on the faces of the characters makes it seem moreso. Given that what he endured he thought was in service to woman he loved – even though I would argue it is the very cruelty of fraud – his honor is undeniable. (7)

Monday, March 21, 2011

In Which I am Spicy - Again!

This time it's not about the hot blogging trends, but about actual spices.

On the recommendation of a friend, and armed with Stephen's relatively new interest in eating Paleo combined with his old interest in cooking, we headed out to Penzeys Spices on Saturday. What is Penzeys Spices?  Near us, it's an entire store devoted to spices! You're actually encouraged to go and sniff the spices.

Our haul from Saturday.
Fair Warning: if you value your olfactory cilia, please remember that the chili powder mixes are, in fact, powder, and therefore should be allowed to settle a few seconds after opening the lid prior to you sticking your nose in there for a good stiff sniff. Take it from one who knows, but needed to be reminded as she winced in pain, and walked around the tiny store with watery eyes unable to smell anything else for a few minutes (that was me).

My momentary stupidity aside, I loved that little spice store. In addition to almost all herbs and spices you can think of, there were excellent combinations of spices, fabulous gift sets for people who love to cook, bake, or need basic spice shelf stock. What excited me most was that it had food-grade lavender which I had previously been unable to find in any specialty stores I shop.

An interesting little tidbit: I could not find the lavender out on the shelves, so I asked the very courteous and bright-eyed cashier about it.  He told me that indeed, they had it, but it was in the back room. When I asked why, he said that it was food-grade and people were using it for decorations.


I was curious as to why they cared how it was being used so long as it was being paid for, and when he asked me -- friendly comment, not grilling -- what I was using it for, I wish I had thought to say decorations. Would he not have sold it to me?

My answer, however, was honest, and surprisingly seemed to satisfy the spice snob - cocktails! I am going to make my own lavender bitters so I can concoct my favorite lavender martini--enjoyed on two different occasions at the Liberty Hotel--at home!

My favorite take at the spice store: Cocktail spices. High fat
cocoa to rim the chocolate martini glass, lavender for bitters, or tea. 
Cucumber water, lavender bitters, gin, and a springtime of experimentation.

There's nothing can stop me now.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring Morning in the Heart of the City

Image as cropped in my datebook.

As a child, I was little impressed with Manhattan more than as a really crowded place with a big, famous statue in the harbor. It wasn't until relatively recently that I have come to appreciate the history, the culture, the human achievement strewn wildly about the small island.

One of my favorite places there is the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In addition to the vast collection of magnificent art, it offers an almost decadent amount of perfectly staged indoor space in which to imbibe in the art. While we didn't make it there on our most recent flash tour of NYC, I have a date book that weekly reminds me of both New York, and the MMA: New York New York The Metropolitan Museum of Art: An Art Book and Engagement Book 2011.

Today, I'd like to share the image that accompanied last week's dates. I hope you enjoy this spring morning brought to you by Frederick Childe Hassam as much as I have.

Spring Morning in the Heart of the City, Childe Hassam, 1890

This painting of Madison Square was completed when Madison Square Garden was actually in Madison Square!  The building so named had quite an illustrious and notorious history.  Read more about the four buildings which carried that name on to fame, below.

Madison Square Garden I (1871-1890)
Madison Square Garden II (1890-1924)
Madison Square Garden III (1925-1968)
Madison Square Garden IV (1968- present)

Happy Spring.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Cowboy Poetry

for Harry Reid

Grabbing reins he forcibly turns its head,
Into the gloaming, vainly chasing the light.
"This is the way, the right path," he said,
But saw none follow him into the night.

They had ridden too many miles that day,
The quiet plains now gave refuge to rest.
Not satisfied by his ability to sway,
He challenged the riders to do better than their best.

But their best was exactly what each had given,
Knowing the trail and how hard he should ride:
Pace and prepare. Whole herds must be driven.
They knew their work -- it was theirs to decide.

Under stars they ate, above all they were true.
But deaf to reason, he'd shown his gun and said,
"I am the law. I know better than you."
"For the good of all! Do it now, or you're dead."

And that is why, sometimes, in the moon's low light,
Winds blowing hard from the east -- it's then --
A herd of horses crossing the plains at night,
Can be seen wearing saddles -- but no men.

Monday, March 14, 2011


Lynne: I feel as though I haven't talked to you in such a long time.

Big White Blog Square:

Lynne: I know. It's not that I've been avoiding you . . . it's just that there are so many other regular quadrilaterals that have been beckoning to me! But don't feel badly. Some of them really remind me of you, and remember - you'll always be the first.

Big White Blog Square:

Lynne: Sure, these newbies entice me with their promise of interaction and with news and pictures of friends, but their entry spaces are limited, and the constant information orgy makes me feel strange! I often crave the sweet serenity of your square spareness.

Big White Blog Square:

Lynne: Yes, exactly. Like I might want to return to a more serious and productive relationship with you.

Big White Blog Square:

Lynne: But there's a problem, you see. While frenetically jumping between those modes which would give me a voice in cyberspace and working my day job, I found an even older love: One who promises me the world if I would only meet its simple requirements.

Big White Blog Square:

Lynne: Yes. I'm afraid I've rediscovered a book, Big White Blog Square, and there's really nothing you can do about it, except be patient and wait for my return. And I shall return. Someday. After he utters . . .my white plume and after I recover from his utterance.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Stop Plate Tectonics!

It would appear that my little bit of reductio ad absurdum has sadly proven a bit prescient.

The better we understand the laws of nature, the better we can live. The more we use the laws of men to validate the package-deal of man's living with the destruction of his environment, the more we throttle the motor of our world. 

You can make a $10 donation to help those affected by the earthquake in Japan and tsunami through the American Red Cross by texting REDCROSS to 90999. Or to the Japan Society online. If you have favorite, vetted relief agency, please let me know. 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Round Up of Round-Ups

This week's Objectivist Round Up can be found at The Little Things.  I also managed to rustle up links to the last five round-ups and have posted them below.  Apparently I overslept in the bunkhouse for the past several weeks.  

Must have been the decaf.  

Feb 24, 2011 The Secular Foxhole
Feb 17, 2011 The Playful Spirit
Feb 10, 2011 Erosophia
Feb 03, 2011 Rant from the Rock


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

3 Good Things (Word Challenge edition)

  1. sibilance:  a speech sound characterized by hissing, such as (s), (z), (sh), or (zh).
  2. citified: having, or pretending to have the sophisticated style of urban life.
  3. supernumeraries: in excess of the regular, necessary, or usual number.

Every once in a while you come across a word that is too delicious to relegate to the dark recesses of casual acquaintance.  Every now and then you must force yourself to use a word in conversation or writing with the hope of integrating its fabulousness into your everyday vocabulary.

If you read or write poetry, using sibilance should pose no problem for you. The challenge for citified is to speak it without using a Southern accent and without using it to refer to folks, whereas supernumeraries should be used to refer to people.

If you’re up for the challenge, let me know how it turns out.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Tremblay Rest

Between second and third of six Tabata rounds of push-ups.
I could still write then.

I am not the only one who loses count as she loses the ability to take in enough oxygen! In the middle of Gymnastabata (or gym-nasty-bata as I call it) at CrossFit the other night, we each wanted to make sure that we recorded our repetitions correctly, and so kept our notebooks nearby.

But what is wrong with this picture? Clearly, one of these folks is not taking advantage of the Tabata-rest (Stephen).

So what is Tabata?

Tabata is the high intensity interval training (HIIT) named after Dr. Izumi Tabata based on his research reporting that brief high-intensity work cycles were better than traditional cardiovascular methods at improving metabolic efficiency (e.g. increasing muscular endurance, improving fat burning, increasing resting metabolic rate, and improving insulin action in the body) using 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest.

The eponymous Tabata notwithstanding, there have been others who tested and developed this idea before Dr. Tabata: most notably, Angelo Tremblay. In homage to his efforts and because his name is close to my heart, I shall henceforth use it when referring to my own rest cycles.

Pictured entitled "Old Lady Squat" found here.
I could not NOT post it. Click on it for action. 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Tennis Ball Oath

No, I’m not confusing the Henry V reference of “Tennis balls, my liege” with the French Revolution’s Tennis Court Oath, but I did think of both when I saw this drawing.

Photo of drawing found on Prints Old and Rare
It’s called The Dog Congress (W. H. Beard, 1880), but its lighting and detail of individual faces so reminded me of The Tennis Court Oath (Jacques Louis David, 1789, below) and its subjects might so enjoy a good game of fetch, that I could not help but immediately think of it as the Tennis Ball Oath.

Explore this sketch in greater detail here.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign

Not simply a hippie song (blogging trend? I hope not) but a problem along Boston’s highways according to today’s Boston Globe.

The Federal Highway Administration found the problem signs during its first inspection of Massachusetts’ outdoor advertising program in more than a decade, and reported its findings last week.

As part of beautification efforts that date to the 1960s, federal and state rules limit billboards and other signs along roads funded at least in part with US tax dollars. For instance, signs can’t be too close together, in order to reduce visual clutter and avoid distracting drivers. [emphasis mine]

Boston Globe photo.

The crime here is not attempting to sell unsuspecting motorists crappy beer, but that the owner may not have the proper permit for the sign.

Boston Globe photo.

This one? Too big sayeth the Feds.

Boston Globe photo.

Pictured is another billboard on the Herald building. Federal authorities recommended the state tell Purcell his previous permit may have been granted in error and to also research the law to figure out how to handle the situation. Boston Herald spokeswoman Gwen Gage declined comment.

This one appears to be the state’s fault. But the owner must now pay to rectify the situation if the state deems this is true.

As the mother of teenagers in the age of ubiquitous digital devices, I understand that it is dangerous to talk on the phone and ludicrous to text while driving. Gawking at signs while driving is, indeed, a very bad idea if one wants to keep from injuring oneself, another human being, or totaling one’s car. Aesthetically speaking, I prefer to travel the scenic Merritt Parkway through Connecticut any day of the week to the crowded hallway of “Gentlemen’s Club” signs along 95.

The question is how far the government is willing to punish drivers in an attempt to promote the general welfare? How far is the government willing to punish property owners in an attempt to ensure that drivers aren’t distracted?

Where does the government’s peremptory strike against distracted driving prompts end?

At what point does living in the US mean leaving independent judgment behind?

I recommend watching the video for the hippie song I linked to in the first sentence.  Almost all of the signs are either signs protected by the First Amendment or regulatory signs, and boy, are they distracting! While I don’t know which agency would win the battle of conflicting government agencies, I do know who loses.