Monday, June 27, 2022

Dior Chairs and the Death of Design


From The Straits Times:

Philippe Starck made his name making everyday objects extraordinary, but the French designer and architect believes the "dematerialisation" of modern life will soon make such talents redundant.

"What is the future of design? Well, there isn't one, because you must understand that everything has a birth, a life and a death. And for design, it is the same," he said on the sidelines of the Milan Furniture Fair. He is there to present a new chair created for fashion house Dior, an update on the iconic version of the Louis XVI medallion chair that featured in the first boutique founded by Christian Dior in Paris in 1947. Starck, 73, is one of the most prolific inventors of his generation, designing everything from top hotels and best-selling furniture to juicers and toothbrushes. He believes, however, that the advance of technology means talents such as his may one day become redundant.

"We make everything disappear," he said. "Look at your iPhone - the number of products it replaces, it's extraordinary. Before, the size of a computer - it was a building, a suburban house. Now, it is embedded under the skin." (Read more.)


A Matter of Holiness

 From First Things:

My wife and I have a son with Down syndrome. Three of our grandchildren have disabilities that range from moderate to severe. They all deserve the gift of life. They all make their siblings more genuinely human by the treasure of their presence. So we feel an immense gratitude to San Francisco’s Archbishop Cordileone for speaking the truth and doing the right thing by excluding Speaker Nancy Pelosi from Communion in her home diocese.

Pelosi has been a high-profile, vigorous, privileged, and defiant supporter of easy abortion access for decades. Whatever her virtues may be, her record as a Catholic Christian on the matter of abortion is an icon of public hypocrisy. Thus, in our family, we feel an equally intense disgust—“disappointment” is too weak a word—for those persons both outside and, more repugnantly, inside the Church, who have criticized or attempted to undermine what Archbishop Cordileone has done. There comes a point in the work of Christian witness where otherwise-sensible concerns for prudence and the complexity of politics become indistinguishable from the temptation to fellow-traveling and cowardice. Church leaders, both here and abroad, might profitably take note.

In the Catholic context, what the Church expects from each of us in sorting through tough moral issues is to follow our consciences—but first to form our consciences intelligently and faithfully, in accord with Christian truth. Conscience needs to be fed, developed, and disciplined to discern what’s right. Then it needs to tell us what’s right, rather than what we’d prefer to hear. And what the Church asks is that, before we act, we at least make a sincere effort to consider and understand the truths that she teaches and why, and to try honestly to follow her wisdom. If we do that, we’ve done what our faith requires. This isn’t easy. In practice, it’s very hard, because serious thinking about anything is drowned out in our current culture by emotion, distraction, dumbed-down slogans, and noise.  

It’s our job as Christians to remove ourselves from those things, and to think before we act, so that when we act, we do so with our brain and an examined conscience, and not just with our bile and passions and the latest distortions from our mass media. We also need to pray for our country, and for each other, because we all very obviously need it. The nation we were six decades ago, and the nation we are today, are two very distinct creatures: similar on the surface, but different in substance. One of the differences is that we’re now wrapped in a nonstop, narcoleptic haze of consumer appetite that prevents us from understanding our situation and changing it for the better.  

As for the Church: Georges Bernanos, the great French Catholic writer, liked to describe her as a huge railroad company carrying people to heaven—but one that’s unhappily prone to train wrecks. Left to her human management, the Church tends to end up, in Bernanos’s words, as a giant pile of crashed locomotives and burned-out carriages. We owe our ecclesial leaders the respect due their offices and our obedience to authentic Church teaching. But it’s worth remembering that men like Gregory the Great, or Leo XIII, or John XXIII, or John Paul II, are the exception, not the rule. Most popes are good men, dedicated (if often forgettable) in their ministry. Others are less inspiring. Dante planted several bishops of Rome quite firmly in his Inferno.  (Read more.)


Updated Maps of Tectonic Plates

 From SciTechDaily:

New models that show how the continents were assembled are providing fresh insights into the history of the Earth and will help provide a better understanding of natural hazards like earthquakes and volcanoes.

“We looked at the current knowledge of the configuration of plate boundary zones and the past construction of the continental crust,” said Dr. Derrick Hasterok, Lecturer, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Adelaide who led the team that produced the new models.

“The continents were assembled a few pieces at a time, a bit like a jigsaw, but each time the puzzle was finished it was cut up and reorganized to produce a new picture. Our study helps illuminate the various components so geologists can piece together the previous images.

“We found that plate boundary zones account for nearly 16 percent of the Earth’s crust and an even higher proportion, 27 percent, of continents.” (Read more.)


Sunday, June 26, 2022

Interlude in Prague (2017)


 A movie that can be watched for the spectacle alone, or even just listened to.  From Chronicles of a Modern-Day Mozartian:

Interlude is historically book-ended by two performances conducted by Mozart at the Nostitz Theater (now known as the Estates Theater), although fictionally narrated. The film begins in December 1786 when Mozart is visiting Prague to conduct his opera Le nozze di Figaro and it ends with Mozart conducting the premiere of Don Giovanni on October 29, 1787.  The romance and tragedy that develops during the time between these performances is what inspires Mozart's writing for Don Giovanni.

 As advertised, Interlude is a fictional period thriller, so don't be surprised that the timeline, characters and script embody historical inaccuracies. Mozart, who was blonde and left-handed, is brunette and right-handed. While the Nostitz Theater is captured in the film's exterior shots, a nearby Baroque theater was utilized for the interior shots. You get the point. Although there is some historical authenticity and integrity to their approach, you'll enjoy this film best if you embrace it as entertainment and leave your historian hat at home!

With popular culture being saturated with the likes of Amadeus, its comparison to Interlude is inevitable. What binds the two is their overarching fiction sprinkled with fact along with the acute focus on an adversary. Amadeus gave us rival composer Antonio Salieri, who was a real colleague. An equally brilliant choice for Interlude is Baron Saloka, a malevolent aristocrat who although fictional, is representative of Mozart's biography.

Mozart dealt with his fair share of narcissistic and formidable members of the aristocracy who knew little about music, yet dictated his own through their wealth and influence. They were obstacles to navigate and overcome. Baron Saloka, in Interlude's fictional world, is just another pain in the Arsch for the Maestro (or is he?). While these affluent patrons were a means for his art, they were also a significant hindrance. Mozart spent most of his life creating within the framework of this patronage system, and eventually became one of the first artists to declare his independence from it. His emancipation informs part of Interlude's script. (Read more.)


Stolen Innocence: Exposing the Horror of Human Trafficking in the U.S.

 From Sara Carter:

Human trafficking happening in the area where you live but you may not even notice it. In fact, it’s happening everywhere in this country. Today, Sara takes an intense look at the growing scourge of human trafficking and how so many women, boys, and girls are sexually exploited or forced into labor (or both) right here in the United States.

Sara shares the story of a recent human trafficking victim who was taken from an NBA game in Dallas a few weeks ago, but it goes much deeper. She also shares the horrific statistics on trafficking from the United Nations, the shocking prominence of women in luring children and other women into captivity, and why it is vital for parents to keep an eye on what their kids are doing online and on their phones. Sara also takes aim at the mainstream media for basically burying the shocking story of a man attempting to murder a Supreme Court justice. (Read more.)


Hobbits in Indonesia

 From National Geographic:

The limestone cave of Liang Bua, on the Indonesian island of Flores, is widely known as the hobbit cave, the site where the surprisingly tiny and enormously controversial extinct human relative Homo floresiensis was discovered. But to the scientists who excavate there, the site is known as something else entirely: the rat cave.

“The first time I went to the excavations at Liang Bua, I remember watching the bones coming out of the ground and being amazed at how it was almost all rat,” recalls Matthew Tocheri, the Canada Research Chair in Human Origins at Lakehead University. (Read more.)


Saturday, June 25, 2022

RIP Christine Irvin

 RIP Christine Irvin. Rest in peace dear friend and may we meet again when the last trumpet shall sound.
They are not long, the weeping and the laughter,
Love and desire and hate:
I think they have no portion in us after
We pass the gate.
They are not long, the days of wine and roses:
Out of a misty dream
Our path emerges for a while, then closes
Within a dream. ~Ernest Dowson


Christine worked and prayed for the pro-life cause. On the day of her funeral, June 24, 2022, Feast of the Sacred Heart, Roe v Wade was overturned.


Common Sense Has Won

 From The New York Post:

Former British Olympic swimmer Sharron Davies has called on other sports to follow the example of swimming’s world governing body FINA and ban transgender female athletes from competition. Davies, 59, who won Olympic silver at the 1980 Games and has emerged as a vocal critic of allowing trans women to take part in female athletic events, applauded FINA’s stunning decision Sunday.

“I can’t tell you how proud I am of my sport, FINA and the FINA president for doing the science, asking the athletes/coaches and standing up for fair sport for females,” she tweeted after the governing body’s vote to restrict the participation of transgender athletes in elite women’s races. “Swimming will always welcome everyone no matter how you identify but fairness is the cornerstone of sport.” But according to Davies, more work remains to be done to level the playing field in other sports as well, especially cycling. (Read more.)