some stuff i have read recently, autumn dandelions wallpaper, louie and unintended meanings

A Nod to the Xenophobic, Lying Inventor of Spy Fiction

Beyond literature, the man’s true (evil) genius (William Le Queux b. 1864)) was as a propagandist. His paranoid novels and bogus pronouncements were aimed at convincing fellow Brits that England was infested with foreign agents. In fact, the flimsy evidence of German spying he stovepiped to a government subcommittee—a subcommittee that arose from anxieties he helped stir—prompted the 1909 founding of the British Secret Service Bureau (later a model for the CIA).

According to one study of paranoia there is only a genetic link a small percentage of the time. What the World Health Organization considers clinical paranoia is said to only affect, at maximum, about %2.5 of the population. With males in the majority. Yet so much of our cultural clashes seem propelled by paranoia. Everyone feels paranoid once in a while. But everyone feels relaxed once in a while as well. Why does one aspect of the range of human emotions drive so much hostility and ethnocentrism.

A High Holy Whodunit

One day this spring, on the condition that I not reveal any details of its location nor the stringent security measures in place to protect its contents, I entered a hidden vault at the Israel Museum and gazed upon the Aleppo Codex — the oldest, most complete, most accurate text of the Hebrew Bible. The story of how it arrived here, in Jerusalem, is a tale of ancient fears and modern prejudices, one that touches on one of the rawest nerves in Israeli society: the clash of cultures between Jews from Arab countries and the European Jews, or Ashkenazim, who controlled the country during its formative years.

This is a long but fascinating read. Even those not particularly interested in religion should find the mystery and the history worth their time. Though it is difficult not to note the way religious beliefs, the same religious doctrines pulled followers in opposite directions.

autumn dandelions wallpaper

I have probably mentioned before that there are some qualities to admire in the Amish. Unlike Republicans they live a truly God centered life. While Republicans embrace the bloody revenge and justice of the Old Testament, the Amish have a more Sermon on The Mount perspective. Unlike conservatives such as Mitt Romney or these clowns, the Amish do actual work for a living. Amish Population Booms in US

The Amish, who represent a branch of the Anabaptist movement, shun most modern technologies and settle on farmland where they can live undisturbed by much of the world. Even so, Donnermeyer speculated that the availability of farmland may not be able to keep up with the Amish population boom, which might mean more Amish men will start looking for nonfarm jobs such as woodworking and construction trades.

Effort to Save Harlem’s Murals From a Grittier Time. Very good photo essay from the NYT Blog.

One of the first murals that Franco Gaskin noticed missing was of a weeping Martin Luther King Jr. He had painted the work about 18 years ago on the dreary metal front gate of an abandoned store where Dr. King was said to have had a book signing. Then his painting of a bountiful harvest outside a store called Family Fair Fruit that is now a Starbucks disappeared. Also gone was his vision of a phoenix flying near the sun outside a mom-and-pop store that became a Rite Aid.

Back when Harlem’s 125th Street was a far drearier commercial stretch, Mr. Gaskin, an artist who has gained global acclaim as Franco the Great, painted mural after mural on the storefront security gates. He ultimately painted about 200 of them.

Mural by Franco Gaskin aka Franco the Great

Joyce Carol Oates writes about Charles Dickens,

If Dickens’s prose fiction has “defects”—excesses of melodrama, sentimentality, contrived plots, and manufactured happy endings—these are the defects of his era, which for all his greatness Dickens had not the rebellious spirit to resist; he was at heart a crowd-pleaser, a theatrical entertainer, with no interest in subverting the conventions of the novel as his great successors D.H. Lawrence, James Joyce, and Virginia Woolf would have; nor did he contemplate the subtle and ironic counterminings of human relations in the way of George Eliot and Thomas Hardy, who brought to the English novel an element of nuanced psychological realism not previously explored.

The bold seems to what is getting the most attention. Oates also states about Dickens, “Few would contest that he is the most English of great English novelists, and that his most accomplished novels—Bleak House, Great Expectations, Little Dorrit, Dombey and Son, Our Mutual Friend, and David Copperfield—are works of surpassing genius, thrumming with energy, imagination, and something resembling white-hot inspiration.” Not every writer can perform every trick. If a critic so desires there are always short comings to find. Dickens is not around to make notes, but this is where critics, even if they hate a writer, can be their best friend. They provide the opportunity to step back and reevaluate.

6 Things Mitt Romney Is Hiding – From missing emails to mysterious investments, his deep history of secrecy. They seemed to have missed listing Romney’s birth certificate. I’ve heard he was really born in Russia to some KGB agents who smuggled him into Utah via a midnight merchant ship landing at San Diego. Until he proves otherwise he is just a radical commie foreigner. Isn’t that what commies would do, wrap up some fundamentally UnAmerican ideology in the red, white and blue and call it patriotism.

Terry Gilliam’s daughter has started a blog, “Discovering Dad” aka delving into Terry Gilliam’s personal archive. Just one recent example of posts,

Discoveries of the day: 20 July 2012
So I went a little off piste today and dived into some of the Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life material.  I found incredible orignial illustrations and cut-outs for the opening titles animation sequence.

As one would expect everything is copyrighted or I would have posted at least a thumbnail sample.

I generally like program Louie and I like Parker Posey. Louis C.K. was the writer and was the director of the episode that Posey was in. They had meet at a social function and started discussing the role, so Parker and Louis know more about the intended narrative and how to interpret the roles they played than I do. As her dark, two-episode arc on “Louie” ends, the actress reflects on the ways men try to change women

Parker Posey: He’s too wrapped up in his own insecurities to really look at her.

Parker Posey: And he’s a creep too!

Willa Paskin: He’s a creep?

Parker Posey: You don’t think he’s a creep? He’s like skulking in there in a bookstore? Are you kidding? He’s telling her who she is! It’s somewhat sadistic, right? I mean he’s already written her dialogue for her. He comes up to her and he’s talking and what he’s saying is just like a mouthful of what he thinks she’s thinking. And she goes, ‘Yeah, I’ll go along, I’ll be your projection,’ you know?

So this guy is projecting and she senses that, why play games. If she knows who she is and doesn’t like games, why intentionally give him the wrong impression. It turns out later that she does have, as most people do once you get to know them, some emotional baggage. Probably beyond that to some deep emotional scars. With or without emotional scars a woman or a man has the right to vet people. But that is what meeting for coffee or lunch or a full fledged date is for. So from their first words, she was dishonest. Her life experience and what Louie was projecting may mediate too harsh a judgement, but this was probably not the best way to start with someone who on some level one finds appealing, or has the potential to be a date. Later she puts him through a series of trials – putting on a dress, buying a homeless man his prescription and running up a stair case to a roof top that was one of her favorite spots. As Fiona Apple knows, women are capable of toying with men that seem infatuated with them and also knows that taking advantage of that situation is not exactly the right thing to do. If the situation were reversed, with Louie running her through her paces, testing her, would we see it as Louie trying to awaken her – “She’s the one that’s changing him, waking him up to something, getting him out of his head and seeing something. You’re always wondering if Louie’s going to see what’s in front of him. She is trying to help him.” Replace the feminine pronouns with masculine. Not such a good way to approach things by way of these emotional litmus tests. People do test each other all the time, especially in romantic relationships. Some of it can be marked up to human insecurities or frailty, but the extent to which Parker’s character pushed it, reached the threshold of  emotional abuse. Louie and Parker know more about the intentions in play, but might be so connected to the material they cannot see where what they intended could be interpreted as something else. Something dysfunctional. You never know with Louis if or when he will go back and pick up a story line so it might also be his plan to portray a dysfunctional set of characters who don’t know what the hell they’re doing. If that is the case, good job.

parker posey from louie, episode 4 season 3. This is a screen grab from the last minute of that episode.