People who ask other people to sign petitions…

Should really think about what they’re doing. Woody Allen may feel strongly about Roman Polanski’s arrest – but you shouldn’t have asked the man who took naked pictures of his stepdaughter to sign a petition on behalf of the man who plead guilty to drugging and raping a 13 year old. Credibility issues and all.
I love this line from the petition:

“The arrest of Roman Polanski in a neutral country, where he assumed he could travel without hindrance … opens the way for actions of which no one can know the effects,” said the signatories…

What do they think Switzerland is, Disneyworld? Switzerland is neutral in WAR, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a lot of laws and arrest people – even some who are wanted in other countries.

How long do people who specialize in RIGHT NOW need to read a book?

I find it odd that the only two mentions on Cliopatria, the History News Network blog, of the Taylor Branch/Bill Clinton interview book are published reviews. I mean, come on. Tell us what you think! Isn’t it interesting that he was giving these private interviews to one historian and denying the rest of you access?? Any ideas of what this means to the profession?
What I’ve read on the web makes me eager to run into the president of my Colleges in a private corner to ask what he thinks.
Further – Ralph Luker responds and I thank him for the insight.

Earthquakes in China in 2008

Here’s the story. I just finished listening to Simon Winchester’s A Crack in the Edge of the World: America and the Great California Earthquake of 1906. Gosh this is vivid. Humans just will live anywhere they please.
Winchester reads his own books for our listening pleasure – and he’s GOOD at it. I’ve heard most of these and intend to hear them all as I go along.

Dante Blogging – Inferno Canto XVIII

Canto XVIII
Here we are right in the middle of Hell – or at least in the middle of the Inferno – the jump from XVII to XVIII is the mid-point of the 34 canti – and Dante kicks off with structure again. The first word in the canto is Luogo, “place.” We can’t quite capture that in English – for Luogo è in inferno we can’t say “Place there is in Hell,” but that’s our problem. Dante is reminding us to check the chart, mental or posted on the wall. Once again, I’m a little amazed that the Esolen’s translation in the Modern Library doesn’t have one!
Here’s a nice one, in case you’re getting lost.
Dante explains the region they’re starting to cross, the Malebolge, “Pouches of Evil,” Esolen gives us as ringing the deep pit in the center of Hell (18.2). They will cross the trenches on little stone bridges that run like spokes.
Here we get an image of Hell right out of the popular imagination – horned devils with whips driving naked sinners. Dante compares the streams – some going in one direction, some the other – to pilgrims during the Jubilee crossing the Ponte San Angelo in Rome, half headed to St Peter’s on the south bank of the Tiber and half leaving.
Dante, of course, disapproved of the great Jubilee of 1300 because he hated the pope who called it, Boniface VIII. If you want to get a really good idea of what Boniface was up to without half the sarcasm of Dante, you ought to read Kessler and Zacharias’ Rome 1300: on the Path of the Pilgrim. They did a splendid job of recreating what a pilgrim to the first Jubilee would have seen. The photographs are amazing – taking advantage of the deep cleaning that seemed to happen to everything in Rome in time for the Jubilee of 2000.
Dante loathed Boniface, and is going to prepare a place for him in the next Pouch.
This Pouch, though, is for pimps, seducers, and flatterers – with a whore as the archetypical flatterer. I’m amused that his example of a serial seducer is Jason, as in the Argonauts. No offense to any Jasons out there, but I always wonder what parents are thinking who name their child after such an unpleasant classical figure as that one.

Click here for all the Danteblogging and none of my other ramblings.

In an 80s mood

My 25th Hanszen – oh, that’s right, RICE – reunion is in about 2 months. I’m chatting with friends about arrangements. So iTunes goes onto the 80s Smart Playlist (which is more or less random-music-identified-with-my-youth-but-excluding-Steely Dan, who I never really liked back then).
Here’s tonight’s serving of 15:
Black Coffee In Bed – Squeeze – Singles 45′s And Under, 1982
Heaven – Talking Heads – Popular Favorites 1976-1983
Billie Jean – Michael Jackson – Thriller, 1982
Can’t Stop the World – Go Gos – Beauty and the Beat, 1981
Girls! Girls! Girls! – The Judys – Washarama, 1982?
Don’t Stand So Close to Me – The Police – Zenyatta Mondatta, 1980
Doctor’s Orders – Aretha Franklin (Duet with Luther Vandross) – Greatest Hits (1980-1994)
Brand New Lover – Dead or Alive
Burn Rubber (Why You Wanna Hurt Me) – The Gap Band – The Best of the Gap Band
Hitsville U.K. – The Clash – The Clash: The Singles, 1980s
Bizarre Love Triangle – New Order - Brotherhood, 1986
Goodbye Seventies – Yaz – Upstairs at Eric’s, 1982
Cat People (Puting Out Fire) – David Bowie – Let’s Dance, 1983
Love Will Tear Us Apart – Joy Division – Substance 1977-1980
Skidmarks on My Heart – Go Gos – Beauty and the Beat, 1981

Massachusetts can do what it wants

But we don’t have to be nice about it.
The Massachusetts legislature can change laws back and forth about how they want folks appointed to dead senator’s seats to suit their governors (can’t let Republicans appoint them, can allow Democrats to do so).
But the rest of us get to mock them.
Mickey Kaus offers a specific memory about the boot-licking Kennedy apparatchik the governor just appointed. With citations. Let’s not pretend. This 71 year old is a place holder – the only serious question is for whom. Patrick? How soon would he need to move home from Rhode Island to establish residency? Joe III (or whatever number he is)? I think he’s damaged goods – but then I’m not a local who’ll pull the lever for anyone with a K at the first of his name (oh dear – Senator Kirk might actually be able to get ELECTED if someone isn’t careful!!).
And people think places like Memphis and New Orleans are corrupt!

Huuuuuuuge Anglo Saxon hoard found

And appropriately over the top statements are made by experts:

The UK’s largest haul of Anglo-Saxon treasure has been discovered buried beneath a field in Staffordshire.
Experts said the collection of 1,500 gold and silver pieces, which may date back to the 7th Century, was unparalleled in size.
. . .
The collection contains about 5kg of gold and 2.5kg of silver, making it far bigger than the Sutton Hoo discovery in 1939 when 1.5kg of Anglo-Saxon gold was found near Woodbridge in Suffolk.
Leslie Webster, former keeper at the British Museum’s Department of Prehistory and Europe, said: “This is going to alter our perceptions of Anglo-Saxon England as radically, if not more so, as the Sutton Hoo discoveries.
“(It is) absolutely the equivalent of finding a new Lindisfarne Gospels or Book of Kells.”

Yow. That’s a lot to live up to. Still – go read and see. There’s even video!
Here’s the website for the hoard.

Here’s the Flickr stream!