Sunday, March 31, 2013

Mystery Statue


That's a statue of Mary Magdalene at the empty tomb. "Mary is bent, huddled, distraught at the disappearance of Jesus' body. Then she hears her name spoken, and turns, looking upward to Jesus standing behind her. This poignant image captures the moment of Mary's incomprehension, as she hears her name spoken by someone she knows is dead. After all, she has been present at the crucifixion of Jesus, seen his sagging body removed from the cross, and been the one who laid out his corpse in the tomb. But now, inexplicably, she recognizes his voice. This image is closer to pictures of Mary in modern films..."

I don't know who sculpted it. A friend posted the picture on Facebook, and I was struck by it. I think the artist did a nice job with the body and the expression - caught that moment of shock. It definitely looks post-1950 to me, but I'm not sure.

There seems to be a nearly identical statue in the Mission Santa Barbara church. But if you click on the link you will see that Mary's left hand is holding onto a vase in Santa Barbara. There's a close-up on her face at the Santa Barbara location, from another angle, here.

May all who drown in grief
find relief.

UPDATE: Sculptor is Bruce Wolfe, a contemporary, and the piece is designed to be seen with a figure of Jesus. Wolfe's Wikipedia page is here.

On the Loose in the Zoo

At the city zoo in Buenos Aires, there were certain animals who just seemed to have the run of the place. This included some odd ducks with red bumps on their face, and some Maras, aka Patagonian Hares.

Here's a photo from the zoo featuring both, from Evan Schaeffer's website:


Schaeffer describes the maras as "scary rabbit things". I didn't find them at all frightening, but he went to the zoo with a child, and I did notice that a lot of children found them scary.

Frankly, I thought some of the red-bump ducks were scarier looking. Here's another pic from the zoo that someone else took. Apparently this is a "Muscovy Duck":


Despite its name, the Patagonian Hare
is not used for the Easter Bunny down there.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Love, Liquid and Solid

In Argentina, I learned of an organization called, in English, something like "Solid Group", which turns out to be a response to a book called "Liquid Love".

Liquid love has made a big splash,
but they intend a solid clash.

The rebels speak:

Zygmunt Bauman, a Polish sociologist, has achieved great editorial success describing our “liquid” society. On his book “Liquid Love: On the Frailty of Human Bonds”, he captures the postmodern outlook regarding relationships:

In these days, bonds among people are fragile, weak, almost ethereal.

Liquid love is the legacy we inherited from the sexual revolution. And while adults may believe that young people comfortably swim in its waters, many of us are filled with dissatisfaction.

This clash reminds me of an interesting sociological phenomenon going on in the US lately. The upper middle class continues to marry before they have children, and to stay married.

Statistically speaking, of course.
It's not like they never divorce.

There are economic forces involved, no doubt, including unintended incentives and consequences of various laws and social programs.

But there's also a theory that there's a funny kind of hypocrisy involved that is misleading the under-educated. The upper middle class won't - in public - criticize having children out of wedlock. But in private they apparently think it's a big mistake.

You can make a case that it makes economic sense for lots of young women to choose to be single moms. I've seen some economists make such a case. But it does seem, statistically, associated with a life of scraping by, and with poorer outcomes for the kids, too.

I'm in favor of people having kids.
But you don't want their lives to hit the skids.

After Marriage Equality

After we get marriage equality, as it is now called, I believe that forward-thinking Americans will slowly realize that they need even more marriage equality.

There is a form of marriage, between consenting non-related adults, that is currently outlawed in all 50 states.

It is a form of marriage that is recognized in many traditional cultures, but it does not conform to the "one man, one woman" rule.

It has already emerged as an issue among the Unitarians, an issue that most Unitarians would prefer to keep under wraps, for now. But it has exploded onto the pages of the Washington Post.

I speak, of course, of marriage involving more than 2 people, often derogated as polygamy, but now rechristened as polyamorous union. the issue of same-sex marriage heads to the Supreme Court, many committed Unitarians think the denomination should have a position, which is that polyamory activists should just sit down and be quiet. For one thing, poly activists are seen as undermining the fight for same-sex marriage.

"Just sit down and be quiet."

Oh, really?

And should they go to the back of the bus, as well?
Unitarian bigotry is hell.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Knowledge of Spanish

I was occasionally able to make myself understood in Spanish, while in Argentina, which satisfied and amused me greatly.

Two examples linger with me, both cases in which my wife was having trouble getting an idea across.

The first was when she was trying to communicate "yacht club" to some people. I said "el club de barcos" (the club of boats) and they actually understood it.

The second was when she was trying to communicate "zoo" by saying "Jardín Zoológico" (zoological garden). The taxi driver couldn't quite understand the words as she was pronouncing them. I said "muchos animales" (many animals) and then it all clicked for him.

I even communicated some full sentences on occasion!

I am not good at languages.
They send me through the anguishes.

All that English stuff
was tough enough,
and now Spanish still
resists my will.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Back, And Glad To Be

I'm back from Argentina. Took an overnight flight, got into Chicago at 8 am, and went to work. Thank goodness I was able to get some serious sleep on the plane.

Door-to-door, from when I got the taxi at the hotel in Buenos Aires, to when I got off the subway in downtown Chicago, I was traveling 20.5 hours.

Amusingly, when we got back, our heat had gone off. So it's cold in the house right now. I'm typing in my overcoat and knit cap. But we've got guys working on it, and I expect it to be fixed shortly.

It's got to be a thermo-couple that needs to be replaced. That's usually what's wrong when our heat goes out.

I did successfully replace
a thermo-couple - just once -
hoping to prove it wasn't the case
that I'm a heating system dunce.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


Protest outside hotel. Don't know what it was about. It slowed me down, but did not stop me from getting out.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Fun To See Them But...

At the zoo, the animals seem short on things to do.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Ups and Downs

Argentines are happy about the new pope, but gloomy about an economy approaching the end of its rope.

Tip Off Re: Rip-Off

Be extra careful about what the fare is, when taking a taxi in Buenos Aires.

Friday, March 22, 2013


When did air travel begin to unravel?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Fallon Fox

The basic nature of the controversy goes back to at least Renee Richards, who did the man to woman transgender thing.
She was denied entry into the 1976 US Open by the United States Tennis Association, citing an unprecedented women-born-women policy. She disputed the ban, and the New York Supreme Court ruled in her favor in 1977.

The question comes up in the male-to-female cases: does being born a man confer an unfair athletic advantage over those born women?

Now, a champion martial arts competitor, Fallon Fox, has come out as a trans person.


And Stephen Crowder, at Fox News, has a rant up about what he sees as this person's unfair advantage - much heavier developmental testosterone exposure.
Let me ask you this; if Barry Bonds came out and said “Okay okay, I did copious amounts of steroids for over 20 years, but I stopped before I hit my last few homers,” would you consider that fair?

If I were in the ring
with her
I'd pray for the bell's ding-ding
to occur.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


I don't know the answer, either:
“I think the greatest, most astonishing fact that I am aware of in social science right now is that women have been able to hear the labor market screaming out ‘You need more education’ and have been able to respond to that, and men have not,” said Michael Greenstone, an M.I.T. economics professor who was not involved in Professor Autor’s work. “And it’s very, very scary for economists because people should be responding to price signals. And men are not. It’s a fact in need of an explanation.”

I've seen a lot of theories proposed.

Some blame employers' growing obsession with credentials. (Diplomas are overrated, officially required, but in fact unneeded for many jobs.)
Some blame the educational establishment. (Hostile environment for males, or something.)
Some blame men. (Lazy immature slackers focused on video games and porn.)
Some blame women. (Willing to sleep with lazy immature slackers, thus removing a major incentive for said slackers to pursue a career.)
Some blame the welfare state. (Women with children less in need of men's money, thus more willing to sleep with lazy immature slackers...)

That's just for starters, of course. As for me, I don't know. I need to meet more of these immature slacker males, so I can intuit their motivations!

I remember advice from a book, some primer on economics, and the advice went something like this: Whenever you see a market behaving in a way that makes no sense at all, there has to be a very good reason for it.

When "senseless" economic behavior is trending,
surely hidden incentives are bending
preference away from what you would expect
the "rational man" to select.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Further Misadventures

When we last left Marsha, in Newark, she had a morning flight scheduled to Miami, where she was to switch planes and fly to Buenos Aires.


A man on the flight to Miami had a medical emergency. Plane landed in Raleigh, NC, so an ambulance could take the guy to a hospital.

Plane was late getting to Miami. Marsha was 5 minutes late for her connecting flight.

So, that's 2 days in a row that she just missed a flight.
However, I believe she's finally on a non-stop plane to Buenos Aires - as I write.
Let's hope it doesn't have to land anywhere else during the night!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Flying United, Or Not

My wife started a trip to Buenos Aires today, on United Airlines. First leg of the flight was to Newark, NJ. Somehow that flight was behind schedule. I'm not sure why. We had a little precip here, but nothing serious.

She begged the flight attendant to call ahead to the flight to South America to let them know she was coming. Flight attendant refused to do that, saying: they already know you're coming.

Marsha got to the flight to South America - she was there - as the clock ticked to the departure time - and they wouldn't let her board. They shut the door.

She doesn't have her luggage. It's locked up. They gave her a bag of toiletries.

Next flight out - tomorrow, same time. So, it's an exciting 24 hours in Newark.

I don't know why they shut the door in her face.
Maybe they'd put somebody in her place?

UPDATE: She got them to switch her to an American Airlines flight that leaves at 6 or so in the a.m. Needs to be at the gate by 4 or so. Well, that's a big improvement compared to waiting a full 24 hours!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Mass Media

The new pope's popular so far,
but parish donations are down - yes they are.
So I think a papal Paypal account
might help to increase the incoming amount.

If people decline to go to churches,
you can advertise on their internet searches,
and get them to listen to online sermons
and hit the tip jar - as their conscience determines.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

I enjoyed the movie No, which is about the plebiscite in 1988 where the voters of Chile decided that August Pinochet should not have another 8 years as president.

More specifically, the story is about the competing advertising campaigns between the 2 sides.

I would say the movie walks a line, where it is anti-Pinochet, but not pro-Allende.

The hero is an ad man who sees the need to put a positive spin on voting No.

Sometimes just saying no
is the happy way to go.

Friday, March 15, 2013

To Assume

Instapundit linked to a not-safe-for-work article.

It's about a kinky first date
that stumbled right out of the gate.

Eventually our author allows her date to have unprotected sex with her - and is then very upset when it turns out he has not withdrawn before completion.

He is upset too, to learn she's not on the pill.

As she makes clear, they'd had no conversation about withdrawal or contraception.

Rather, she'd made an assumption, and he'd made a different one.

Of course, they were both being idiots. Probably because their passions befuddled their reasoning powers. Which makes them, perhaps, victims of evolutionary psychology, which must favor natural reproduction, after all.

Reason tries to master sex,
which promptly turns around to vex
many a plan
of woman and man.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Passing Thoughts on Evolutionary Ethics

To me, lapsed Thomist that I am, Evolutionary Psychology often seems like a theory of appetites with an underlying teleology.

That is, for example, men have sexual appetites for women who appear to be healthy and fertile, with the end of having offspring who will themselves keep the chain of reproduction going.

Evolutionists almost always tell you they are not teleologists, but the resemblance is striking if you step back and squint a bit.

When it comes to evolutionary theories of virtue, the theories tend to address why we feel some actions are right and some are wrong. But typically they don't address the question of which actions, in a given situation, are wise or just.

It's interesting how dismissive evolutionary psychologists can be toward philosophical ethics.

Isn't the power to sift
through wise and just reflection
itself a helpful gift
of natural selection?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

White Smoke

They have once again chosen a Catholic for a pope, so I guess
we can keep asking that dumb question as a way of saying yes.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Obesity Among Lesbians And Straight Men

Ann Althouse quotes from a story the NIH giving out some grant money to researchers trying to figure out what is going on with orientation and obesity:
It is now well-established that women of minority sexual orientation are disproportionately affected by the obesity epidemic.... In stark contrast, among men, heterosexual males have nearly double the risk of obesity compared to gay males.
Althouse goes on to ask:
What is your seat-of-the-pants folk wisdom on the subject — that those who want to be sexually appealing to males must deal with the way males sexuality is visually fixated?

So I guess that's her folk wisdom right there - that males, regardless of orientation, tend to be visual lusters, in a way that women are not. And that this drives straight women and gay men to worry about their weight and relentlessly pursue diets, etc. And that this is actually somewhat effective.

Well, I'm inclined to agree with her.

Strangely enough, this is a case where the demanding male gaze, statistically, may be leading to greater female health.

Somehow all those diets in the women's magazines,
may actually be useful for fitting into jeans.

Read Through

We had a first read-through of Jane Eyre tonight. That's where the cast sits around a table and just reads through the script. This was really three long tables arranged in a U shape, because the cast is big.

The script is written to allow for doubling, so you can do a lot of the thing where one actor plays 3 or 4 roles. But in this production we won't be doing very much of that.

But, actually, I get to do it. It's my first time playing 2 roles in one play. At one point I have to switch roles in a minute or less. Not sure how we'll do that.

Perhaps a beard and hat
could change my appearance - just like that.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

L-DOEPs, Where Art Thou?

Tyler Cowen put this under the heading of questions that are rarely asked:
So, my libertarian devotees of evolutionary psychology, you can’t have it both ways. If feminism is wrong to think we can and/or should resist the dispositions that evolution has given us, then why is it wrong for defenders of the classical liberal order to think we can and/or should resist those dispositions when it comes to our evolved instincts toward the morality of socialism? Or put the other way around: if resisting our evolved moral instincts and obeying the rules of just conduct work to generate a civilized, cooperative economic order, why should gender issues be any different?

This raised even more questions in my mind.

1) Is it true that feminism thinks we should resist evolutionary dispositions? I mean, feminism is a big complicated movement, but I can't recall any feminists saying "resist evolution." As far as feminists go, the default rhetorical position on evolution seems to be: more, please.

2) Or is he just saying that his envisioned opponents construe feminism to be a call to resist natural dispositions?

3) Are our "evolved instincts" geared toward the "morality of socialism" exactly? That seems like a giant stretch of the research. If  you tell me that the research shows some natural tendencies toward fairness and sharing and caring, especially for family and neighbors, well, I'll believe that. But that's quite different.

4) My biggest question is where are these envisioned opponents of his, these L-DOEPs, these libertarian devotees of Ev. Psych. who think that relations between the sexes need to be conducted strictly according to instinct with no regard for a civilized cooperative order? Libertarians are mostly individualists and tend to come at interpersonal relationships from a "let's make a contract" perspective, rather than a "you Jane, me Tarzan" perspective.

Personally, I'm wary of over-reliance on evolutionary psychology. I think there's something to it, in theory, but a lot of what is presented under its rubric is just a narrative about the Way We Were without solid study of What We Are.

I do think ev. psych. is a useful and necessary counterbalance to the "human nature is infinitely malleable" school of thought.

Human nature
defies erasure.

Cast as Brocklehurst

So I got the part of Brocklehurst, the preachy sadistic hypocrite who runs the boarding school Jane Eyre is sent to. I found out this afternoon.

I've got a second part, too. Reverend Wood. I don't remember anything about him from the novel, which I read in 2007.

is the worst.

But perhaps Reverend Wood
is good.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Peep Season

The people who make Peeps had their best year ever in 2012.

While the child sleeps,
the bunny hides the Peeps.


Now, I'm an agreeable fellow,
and I don't want to harsh their mellow.
But I sure don't understand
the increasing demand.

The Tragedy of Amleth, Princess of Denmark

It opens with a wedding cake. It opens with a king and queen with white icing on their fingers. Enter Amleth, princess of Denmark, hauling heavy baggage, perplexed that her father's funeral has turned into her mother's wedding.

You might almost think, at this point, that this is just an adaptation, that the story will be the same, that this is just a female Hamlet in modern English.

But the differences keep piling up. Amleth is engaged in a heated lesbian relationship with Ophelia. The characters are different, like Mrs. Polonius. You begin to get the idea that, despite the various allusions to the original, the resolution to this play might be... rather distinct. By the time the second act rolls around, you definitely feel that you are on the high seas as far as knowing where the plot is going.

But the plot does come back to the castle - for the big final scene with a sword fight and tragic ending - rest assured.

The play doesn't really rely upon the viewer knowing Shakespeare's version of the story. But as one who has spent a lot of time with Hamlet, it had that intense "alternate universe" experience.

The language does somehow carry a Shakespearean feel, a leaning toward metaphor I think, but in a way that is simple and direct.

Anna Menekseoglu dominates the play in the title role, struggling with alienation, isolation, and threats against her life. As Hamlets go, despite her emotional ups and downs, she delivers a strong-minded and grounded performance. You feel that this is indeed a princess to be reckoned with, a woman of substance, a real danger to the powers that be. You understand why a political enemy might find it wise to remove her from the playing board.

Megan Merrill's Ophelia is the most sympathetic character on stage, to my mind, and in many ways the most sensible. Seeing the rottenness in Denmark, she wants no part of it. My heart went out to her as fate, and attachment, reeled her in.

Rachel Martindale plays a majestic Gertrude, a woman of dangerously sweet cunning. Jeremy Menekseoglu plays a fascinating Claudius, a man who cannot get comfortable in his newfound position of power. Leana Savoie was a real surprise as Lady Polonius, since she made this disagreeable character rather likable, and thereby made you feel the character's plight. Hasket Morris seemed totally immersed in his role as the hunchbacked dog master; you will believe that his hump, and his sullen but righteous attitude, are real. John-Paul Kostecki was outstanding in his role of the Artificer; his puppet work with just the head of a mannequin was profoundly creepy. Finally, Laura Gouin pulled off the role of Mother Superior with power and an air of insane certainty.

MrsPolAndGert Mrs. Polonius and Queen Gertrude

The staging deserves some special comment. The script calls for a lot of things that are hard to stage - such as an amusement park ride. Theater audiences are willing to imagine the details of such things, if you can just give them the proper amount of suggestion. This show, on a small budget I imagine, does a bang-up job with the sort of evocative staging suggestions that let the audience imagination run free.

If you love Hamlet, I recommend this play.

On the other hand, if you hate Hamlet, try this version! You may well like it better!

It's Hamlet re-dreamed,
but lesbian-themed,
with a new direction
in murder detection.

All exquisitely acted,
with emotions impacted
as blind love and rage
charge the stage.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Oh, Dennis!

I see where North Korea is threatening pre-emptive nuclear attack against the U.S. because they think we're about to attack them.

I blame Dennis Rodman, who just got done hobnobbing with the Leader. Dennis is not a diplomatic kind of guy. I figure he got tired of hearing Kim yap.

Probably Dennis said something like "Keep talking like that and we'll blow you to bits."

This guy comes out waving a nuke
right after Rodman's visit.

You may think that's just a fluke,
but is it?

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Non Stop

How many words could you muster,
for a personal filibuster?

When arguing with friends,
try giving a speech that never ends!


I was amused by this tweet from Daniel Hannan, a British member of the European parliament:
Americans! The US Constitution may be flawed, but it's a great deal better than what you have now!

I'd say it has been stretched
in ways that are far-fetched.
But despite interpretive twists
it persists.

Monday, March 04, 2013


I auditioned tonight for the role of Mr. Brocklehurst in Jane Eyre.

He's not a good man. I'd say he's the biggest villain in the piece.

I was worried I went over the top in my reading. On the other hand, the story is high gothic-romanticism. It's meant to be very dramatic. And the director seemed pleased enough.

Well, I hope I get it.

is the worst
but I have a mighty thirst
to play him.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Born To Run

 I recently finished reading Born To Run by Christopher McDougall.

The subtitle is "A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen". It's often credited with kicking off the "barefoot running" craze.

The author is a sports journalist, and it's an odd mix of a book. It's partly a narrative about a foot race in a remote part of Mexico. Partly a story about colorful American ultra-runners. Partly an account of ultra-running itself. Partly a tale about this ultra-running tribe that lives in the remote part of Mexico. Partly a look at the scientific study of human distance running.

I enjoyed it a lot, but I would say you should take it with a grain of salt before you decide to venture into the desert for a fifty mile jaunt in your bare piggy toes.

Anyway, one little sort-of inconsistency I noticed dealt with the science side of things.

In general, McDougall pushes a low-meat diet. His wondrous Mexican tribe doesn't get much meat - they mostly chow down on corn and beans. And on page 209 a cancer-surviving doctor advises that "we need to build our diets around fruit and vegetable instead of red meat and processed carbs."

But by page 227 he is advancing the thesis that humans evolved into long distance runners so that they could run their prey to exhaustion. And by page 241 he writes: "Actually, it would be weird if the women weren't hunting alongside the men, since they're the ones who really need the meat."

I'm not sure what it all means.
I know I was born to eat.
But should it be corn and beans
or tasty meat?

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Shoe Shrinkage

I ordered a new pair of running shoes. Same brand and model as usual. Well, it was the 2013 model. They are always fiddling with running shoe design.

When I put them on, they seemed to fit.
But then, after I had run in them a bit,
they seemed to have less room for my toes
than the ones from last year. So I supposed
they had been re-designed with a smaller toe box.

But today I realized, with a bit of a shock,
that I'd ordered a twelve instead of thirteen.

What a moron, if you know what I mean,
and I'm sure you do.

I ought to know the size of my own shoe!

Actually, I usually get a 12 in normal shoes, and a 13 in exercise shoes. Somehow, when I was ordering, my brain slipped a gear.

I have a reputation, life-long, of being absent-minded, so busy with my imagination that I sometimes lose track of reality. Well, reality doesn't like being ignored, and struck back again!

These wrong-size shoes, that I hardly wore
are now at the local charity store,
and shall grace my feet... nevermore.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Where Is The March Melt?


Black dog, white snow.

But the evening hue
is vaguely blue.