Numeracy Oddity

I’m reading an article about bullfighting in the Wall Street Journal from Monday (yes, I get the print edition, no, I don’t always keep up) when I see this above on page 6 – and article headlined India’s Economy Risks Slowdown if HIV Spreads.
Here’s the oddity. “India and South Africa both have more than five million HIV-positive people, although estimates vary as to which nation has more.”
There follows no reference to comparative size.
South Africa has about 47,432,000 people (according to Wikipedia). India has 1,103,371,000. If they really do have 5 million HIV postive citizens each, in what way is this a meaningful comparison? The article certainly doesn’t help there. South Africa is not mentioned in any other sentence.
Perhaps we are all to understand that the situation is bad in India because we all know that South Africa has a problem with HIV? I really don’t know. What is the journalist trying to tell us?
I provide no link because the Wall Street Journal is profoundly unfriendly to online readers who don’t subscribe to the online Journal. Sorry.
The 2nd comment points out a useful paragraph – but it’s from a different edition. I don’t think that those of us who live outside a home-delivery metro area deserve such ill-service, though.

Novels and Plays – different skill sets?

This an interesting essay, prompted by a revival of James Joyce’s only play, on why novelists generally write such bad plays and so few dramatists write good novels. The author is a novelist, so take it as you will.
I don’t know if I’ve ever read a treatment of the visual arts that considers reasons other than patronal or sociological (women not being allowed to study from the nude explaining why women didn’t do history painting, Impressionists being bourgeois explaining their choice of subject matter, commissions driving altarpieces or portraits) for some of the differences between artists. I’m sure that scale is an important consideration – some people like to make big things, some people small ones. What about media? Some media are finicky, some looser. Do some archtiects really prefer houses to larger commissions? Of course they do.

da Vinci Code

Talk about a waste of two and a half hours! I just went to the da Vinci Code at the Smith Opera House (a 2nd run theater, so I only paid $5). It was as bad as I’d heard – though my colleague Elena Ciletti is right that the scene of the bishops screaming at each other at the Council of Nicaea is almost worth the price of admission. And concessions are cheap at the Smith, too.
Sad sad sad, if anyone takes that kind of tripe seriously enough that his or her ‘faith is shaken.’
And if you know someone for whom that’s true, send ’em a copy of De-Coding Da Vinci, by Amy Welborn.
Gosh! I don’t know what offended me more – the Chick Tracts view of Constantine or the idea that Isaac Newton and the Catholic Church had anything to do with each other. The conflation of the Inquisition and the Witch Hunts? The ‘art history’? Oh – I don’t know. Tripe. It wasn’t worth sitting through even to see what all the fuss was about.

Slow evening…

Isn’t it odd that the first part of this bottom-up list is so melancholy and non-Anglophone, though it was just as random as the more recent part?
Mesopotamia – The B-52’s – Mesopotamia, 1983
Chase Me – Con Funk Shun – Candy, 1979
In & Out of my Life – One Phat Diva
Feeling So Real – Moby – Everything Is Wrong, 1995
Got to be Real – Cheryl Lynne
Sympathique – Pink Martini – Sympathique, 1997 — CHARMING! or CHARMANT!
Lisbon Francesca – Amália Rodrigues – Amalia Rodrigues, 1997
The Girl From Ipanema – Stan Getz/Joao Gilberto -Eddie Bauer Mambo, 2000
Il n’y a pas d’amour heureux – Nina Simone – A Single Woman, 1993
The Lady is a Tramp – Ella Fitzgerald – The Best of the Songbooks
Rim Lachoua – Cheb Mami – Dellali, 2001
And I Know – Alison Moyet – Essex, 1994
Total Eclipse of the Heart – Bonnie Tyler – Bonnie Tyler: Super Hits, 1983

Annie Lennox & Steven Lipson - Medusa - Thin Line Between Love and HateThin Line between Love and Hate – Annie Lennox, Medusa

Somehow I’ve forgotten the easy way to make these into iTunes links. It’s not drag and drop….


You want to know a bad sign for the weather outlook for your day? When the man doing the national summary on the Weather Channel mentions the name of your place and grimaces. Not just Central New York, but Seneca Lake. Rain. All day.
Oh, well – I was going to go to a movie, anyway.
He also mentioned Chattanooga and Lookout Mountain, so he covered my nuclear family thoroughly!

Self-satisfaction in Education Research

No – not the students. The researchers, who sound very satisfied with themselves and their program; but their ‘success’ is based on students’ self-reporting?

After participating in a two-week sexual education program designed and implemented by an academic medical center, more middle-school students said they would hold off on having sex for the first time, Texas researchers report.

Before the sex education program, 84 percent of students said they would delay having sex until after high school. This figure rose to nearly 87 percent after the program.

This ‘result’ is based on a 2 week program and the self-report intentions of middle-school students. Ummm. I’d change the headline from Sex education may get adolescents to delay sex to Sex education gets adolescents to say they will delay sex.

Digital Libraries…

Here’s another digitalization project – this time a Digital Abbey Library of St. Gall (Codices Electronici Sangallenses). Best of all, they’re allowing non-commercial reproduction on the web, so long as there is an explicit bibilographical reference and a link back to the digital library!
Here’s a good description of the project – they have about 100 out of about 2,100 manuscripts digitized now.
You, readers, might have wondered why I, an art historian, use so few images on my blog. Copyright. That’s why. I’m moderately sensitive to the horrific issues of copyright, and it’s easier not to tread those paths.
This kind of collection will help!
Here’s one – a cross-carpet page from an 8th century Gospel book.
Cod. Sang. 51, page 6, Stiftsbibliothek St. Gallen / Codices Electronici Sangallenses).
Sorry, the descriptions (and even some of the labelling) is in German even after one chooses the English options. Oh, well – everyone should learn German, anyway!
One of the neat things about this kind of online resource is that all too often we art historians only show students the pretty pages – the ones with good pictures. I was in graduate school before I realized how few pages in medieval manuscripts had any decoration at all! But you see, slide collections are that way, too – we tend only to own slides of the pretty pages. So what I can do with this sort of online resource that provides facsimile photographs of complete books is choose a book I know has some decorated pages and move through it on the big screen page by page — and the students will see what a small proportion of book pages are decorated!
What fun!

What to do with peaches?

The New York Times runs a dessert-with-peaches suggestion from the owner of my favorite restaurant in Atlanta, Floataway Café. Anne Quatrano is big on ice milk with peaches. ‘“Why bother making a custard?” Ms. Quatrano said. “I understand the richness thing, but the lightness of an ice milk is much more appealing in the summer.”’ Hmmm. Interesting.
Bear in mind that my favorite restaurant in Atlanta is now a pretty meaningless designation. I haven’t spent more than 10 days there total since August of 1999 (though I have eaten at the Floataway 3 times since then). I never liked Bacchanalia, their flagship restaurant, quite so much. Floataway is in a strange little 1960s industrial park called Zonolite Road – my last Atlanta mechanic was just around the corner from them.
There are times I miss Atlanta. There are lots of times I miss the South. Anytime I think about fresh peaches I sure do!

6 Soldiers. Full Moon. No Chance.

I watached Dog Soldiers last night, a 2002 werewolves-in-Scotland movie. Lots of gore! No teenagers! No sex (though there is a woman)! Consequently, no “next one to have sex dies” hackery!
I’m pretty satisfied to discover that one of the leads – the sardonic sergeant – was played by Sean Pertwee who is the son of Jon Pertwee, one of the Doctors of Dr. Who. I saw the name on the Netflix envelope and wondered. On the weird side – it’s set in Scotland but was filmed in Luxembourg. How many movies can say that?
I generally prefer werewolves to vampires. I’m not sure why that is, but I think I find them less theologically offensive (not being immortal and all that); they’re more natural monsters. I also rather like the connection to all the Indo-european wolf mythology. These werewolves are about as un-human as any I’ve ever seen – and pretty unsympathetic. The only full human-to-werewolf transformation we see is the Special-Forces-Captain-Who-Knew-All-Along. You know the type. I don’t think we see the transformation of the Girl-Scientist-Who-Knew-All-Along fully. (“You think all women are bitches — I’m the real thing!” as she becomes a werewolf.)

Ronald Lauder finds my price point.

For me it is not worth $50 to see 5 Klimts during special hours. That’s easy enough.
Here’s the Wikipedia entry on Klimt where you can see the painting driving all the silliness.
How nice to see I’m not the only one. The Neue Gallerie has given up on their silly idea to charge $50 for a 5 painting show. Someone must’ve pointed out that the mega in megashow means big – and 1 stupidly expensive painting doesn’t constitute a blockbuster. Here’s the New York Times coverage of their backdown.

Musselman Triathlon, 7/16/06, 6

The third annual Mussleman Triathlon came off on Sunday — “Mussel” for the Zebra Mussel, one of the world’s gifts to America’s waterways. I have a few pictures up on Flickr of an official watering station (I like the contrast of the Gothic Revival cottage, one I specifically lust for, and the triathlon fittings) and of an unofficial spray station.

Arrr, Mateys! Historical Horror!

A perfectly reasonable production of the Pirates of Penzance* last night** drove me to my copy of Master and Commander. How did people survive that sort of thing? I’m bewildered – even press gangs couldn’t do enough! How on EARTH did two ships find each other in a whole ocean with no recent detection devices (let’s not call RADAR ‘modern’ – puh-leeeze – it’s post WWI!! As I was saying to Another Damned Medievalist just the other evening, “Modernity starts with the Peace of Westphalia” [at the latest!]).
To what extent, dear friends who actually care about modern nautical history, was the grog ration an unsuspecting way of making the water less foul?
I have a reader (maybe more than one) to whom “Who spent the night on the main top mast?” has only one answer.
Arrrr – do it up, nautical! I keep thinking that I should read a few of the Aubrey and Maturin novels….
And, of course, there’s the delightful curculio reference at the dinner table!
*I dearly love Gilbert & Sullivan. What’s best? Who knows. The “Modern Major General?” “With Cat Like Tread?” “Poor Wandering One?” Go read about it, if you’ve never heard it. How can you have not? I mean, I’ve never seen Ruddigore live, but Pirates?
**The Smith Opera House has decided to take the plunge for air conditioning. Send them money! Lots of it! Help make Geneva the vacation theater spot of the Finger Lakes!