Posts Tagged: history

Tidbits for a Thursday, Pre-Weekend Reading

Spring Hillside

May 2, 2019 – Here are some links for your pre & weekend reading. Enjoy. Photo above taken by Ms. Jen in early april while on a walk through Irvine Regional Park in California

What’s the Opposite of a Cellphone Photo?

Fintan O’Toole: Are the English ready for self-government?
Westminster chaos affords preview of Britain standing alone with its demons

Why can’t Trump make deals? No one trusts him anymore

Why Russia’s Economy Is Headed for Trouble
A lack of real reforms and a hyper-dependence on oil has prevented the emergence of a healthy, diverse economy.

The Killing of Hypatia

Instead of shaking all over, I read the newspapers. I listened to the radio. I had my lunch
Excellent long form piece from Irish writer Colm Toibin on cancer.

14,000-Year-Old Piece Of Bread Rewrites The History Of Baking And Farming

How Cheese, Wheat and Alcohol Shaped Human Evolution
Over time, diet causes dramatic changes to our anatomy, immune systems and maybe skin color

Oldest Cheese Ever Found in Egyptian Tomb
Italian researchers also found traces of disease-causing bacteria in what they believe is probably extremely aged cheese.

For the Love of Money

Raw and Red-Hot
Could inflammation be the cause of myriad chronic conditions?
Hashim Aslami Has Just One Word for Afghan Farmers: Saffron

Gene Wolfe Turned Science Fiction Into High Art
He worked as an engineer developing the technology to make Pringles potato chips before embarking on a prolific writing career. Known as the Melville of science fiction and celebrated for his inventive and challenging work, Wolfe died on April 14 at age 87.

The Racial Bias Built Into Photography
Sarah Lewis explores the relationship between racism and the camera.

James Comey: How Trump Co-opts Leaders Like Bill Barr
Accomplished people lacking inner strength can’t resist the compromises necessary to survive this president.

Lunachicks Recall Fighting Sexism with Sisterhood

Running Out of Children, a South Korea School Enrolls Illiterate Grandmothers
As the birthrate plummets in South Korea, rural schools are emptying. To fill its classrooms, one school opened its doors to women who have for decades dreamed of learning to read.

Fantasy, Science Fiction, Imagination, Faith, and Modernity

There has been quite the internet blog-o-sphere to do revolving around Michael Weingrad’s essay “Why There Is No Jewish Narnia“, which led to D.G. Myers asserting that “Fantasy is a Genre of Christianity“, where upon E.D. Kain proposes that it is not Christianity but Anglophone culture that is the root of Fantasy literature in “Fantasy and the Anglosphere“.
In “Fantasy and the Anglosphere” Kain writes,

“When I published my fantasy piece in the Atlantic it was linked (reproduced?) by Richard Dawkins’ site and a number of the atheists in the commentariat had scathing things to say about fantasy literature. Apparently it is not enough that readers of fantasy do not, in fact, believe in their make-believe. Apparently the fact that dragons and sorcery are not based in science is enough to earn the scorn of some anti-religious types.
This reminds me of the reaction of many conservative Christian groups to various fantasy novels, from Harry Potter to The Golden Compass and the attempt by some conservative groups to ban these books in schools due to all that witchcraft and other devil-worshipping (you know, all those satanic rituals Harry Potter and Hermione engage in before the strange sexual acts begin.)
But many, many Christians and atheists and people of various other faiths enjoy fantasy. “

It struck my absurdity bone as darkly funny that folks are unable to enjoy fiction because it is not science.
*blink*blink*blink*
Hello.
And then being the internet it gets better, as Alyssa Rosenberg jumps in the fray with “Is Fantasy Inherently Christian?” and Adam Serwer joins in with “High Fantasy is a Subgene of Fantasy“, wherein Mr. Serwer brings in the fantasy traditions of many cultures worldwide.
What I find interesting is that none of the writers above, after name checking C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkein, and Chesterton, with one or two brief references to Arthurian legends of the high Middle Ages, discuss the Romantic and Victorian infatuation with all things that we would now label as Fantasy: elves, fairies, the sublime, the door between the worlds, other worlds, etc. Not just the folks in the British tradition, but also Wagner (The Ring Cycle), the Russian literature around Baba Yaga, the Welsh Mabinogion, the Celtic revival of Yeats, Wilde, et al, etc etc.
Or how about the writer that both Lewis and Tolkein gave much credit to, George MacDonald. While MacDonald was a poet, writer, and minister, many of his tales border between a mash up of older Scottish fairy tales with the early Modern Christian allegory tradition, wherein the fairy tales come out a bit stronger in his stories than any claims to a 19th Century version of Pilgrim’s Progress.
Wherever we want to trace the history and genealogy of contemporary Fantasy literature, it is far deeper and broader than Tolkein, Lewis, and Chesterton. The Bridge of Birds immediately leaps to mind.
Also to say that Judaism is only concerned with the here and now, and thus couldn’t produce a tradition of Fantasy is also only looking at the last 100 years or so of history. I would love a time machine to take me back to 1100 or 1200 AD to Cordoba or Granada to sit at the feet of a Jewish storyteller and hear of the tales being told in that moment in Andalucia. Maimonides may have had a few good fantastical stories to tell that weren’t all theological in nature.
We, a people who have lived through and beyond the age of the early Modern explorers, the empires where stories leaked back and forth between subject & subjector, as well as the Modernist love of all things industrial progress and the rational, dip into many strands of fantasy in our TV, books, films, and now internets, of which many of these strands may have root in the primary culture we live in right now or the stories may scamper up and down other trees and roots of places we have not yet seen nor heard of.
Many of the stories we now think of as Christian or Medieval are stories that have been radically reshaped or completely created anew in the last 200 years the Industrial Revolution, the Romantics, and the various Revivals of the late 19th century. How much of the current genre we call Fantasy is not necessarily the creative child of Christianity but really the rebellious teenager of rational Modernism?

Ben Hammersley: The Internet of People

“1990 will be seen, I will posit, as being the first year of the great revolution that we are living through. It is also the first year of the great confusion for the vast majority of people who are in power today. … The internet is fundamentally different, it thinks in networks, not in hierarchies.” – Ben Hammersley

Temple Beth Israel

Today’s LA Times has a lovely article on the resurgence of Temple Beth Israel in the Highland Park / Eagle Rock section of northeast Los Angeles, of which there is a link to an in-depth essay in LA Magazine from 2008 by Ed Leibowitz about Finding Sanctuary at Beth Israel.
As I read both articles, I was enchanted by the slice of Los Angeles history that Beth Israel represents and by the people who have invested their lives in that congregation from the 1920s to today. As I read the LA Times story and the first two pages of the LA Magazine essay, the back of my brains kept saying to me, “I think this is Lauren’s grandpa’s synagogue.” I emailed her to see if it was this temple or not.
About six years ago when Lauren and I were roommates, and when I was in the throes of my genealogy research phase Lauren told me what she knew of her various family members to see if I could find more. The Isaacson line was the fun one to research as Lauren’s dad Joe was the son of a rabbi, who was the son of a rabbi from Selma, Alabama. We did know that Lauren’s grandpa was a founding member and rabbi of a synagogue in LA named Beth Israel.
By the time I had read the sixth page of the LA Magazine article, Lauren had emailed me back to let me know that the Temple Beth Israel in both articles was one and the same as her grandpa had been a rabbi at. I am very glad that Temple Beth Israel is currently undergoing a renaissance with young families in the Eagle Rock / Highland Park area, and even more glad that the temple of my Lauren’s grandfather is continuing to be a blessing in its community.
Update from Fri 11.05.10 – Lauren emailed me this morning to let me know that her grandpa, Rabbi Isaacson, as a founder at the Temple Beth Israel in Hollywood in the same era.

A Few Tasty Links for Your Fourth of July Enjoyment

It is 12:41pm here in Seal Beach, California, socked in with the dreaded ‘June Gloom’, aka the Marine Inversion Layer, and it is chilly for a mid-summer day at 66F/18C and there is a bit of wind. The Sun has made no effort to come out for a visit. Hopefully, old Sol will burn the clouds soon.
In the meantime, here a few nice links for your Fourth of July reading enjoyement…
How America got its name: The suprising story of an obscure scholar, an adventurer’s letter, and a pun

When Ringmann read this news, he was thrilled. As a good classicist, he knew that the poet Virgil had prophesied the existence of a vast southern land across the ocean to the west, destined to be ruled by Rome. And he drew what he felt was the obvious conclusion: Vespucci had reached this legendary place. He had discovered the fourth part of the world. At last, Europe’s Christians, the heirs of ancient Rome, could begin their long-prophesied imperial expansion to the west.

Nick Patrick on Did Americans in 1776 have British accents?

Reading David McCullough’s 1776, I found myself wondering: Did Americans in 1776 have British accents? If so, when did American accents diverge from British accents?
The answer surprised me.
I’d always assumed that Americans used to have British accents, and that American accents diverged after the Revolutionary War, while British accents remained more or less the same.
Americans in 1776 did have British accents in that American accents and British accents hadn’t yet diverged. That’s not too surprising.
What is surprising, though, is that those accents were much closer to today’s American accents than to today’s British accents. While both have changed over time, it’s actually British accents that have changed much more drastically since then.

The Tyburn Angling Society:

Nonetheless, in addition to a regular circuit of dinners, drinks, and fishing outings, the Tyburn Angling Society is committed to resurfacing the ancient stream — still theirs to fish, they argue, by a never-repealed royal decree. “You could have people fishing by the river in the middle of Mayfair,” Jim Bowdidge told the Evening Standard, “We would get the Wild Trout Trust to get the habitat right for small wild brown trout. Properly done, we could have salmon.”

John Scalzi on Status Check, Re: USA:

The 234th birthday of the United States of America is a fine time to check in with one’s self about how one feels about being a citizen of this country, so today’s question: Am I proud to be an American?
I am. The United States, like so many things, is better as an idealized concept than it is as an actual entity, on account that the nation is made up of people, and while most people mean well, in a day-to-day sense they struggle with their ideals, which are often so inconvenient to their desires. And so, like a married family-values politician with a Craigslist personal ad, or a vegan Febreezing the apartment so no one will catch the smell of bacon, America often finds itself failing its own expectations for itself and others.

Last but not least, the quote of the day from Kevin Lawver:

Happy “Crap, We Lost Some Colonies” Day, Brits!

Update! 12:54pm on 07.04.10 – The Sun is doing his job & is burning through the clouds, Seal Beach now has some sun, some clouds, and is still chilly. Wahoo.
Happy Fourth of July!