Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Beware the Ides of March

My interest in history and Classical civilization started when I first read Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar" in the 7th grade. When reading this play, I felt transported via my imagination to the Roman world. It brought the dry facts and dates of history to dramatic life. It remains one of my favorite works of literature, mainly because of this personal significance.

In honor of the Ides, here a link to Caesar's wikipedia page.


Saturday, March 12, 2011

I Want to Believe

Every so often there is some sensationalized announcement regarding alien life. It is always debunked or pulled back. Here's a link to the most recent episode in this unhappy farce:

Nasa Refutes Alien Discovery Claim


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday. I'm not fond of giving things up as a show of piety. I'm more into doing positive things to improve my life. While it is a good thing to cut back on the vices, I think it is better to cultivate the virtues. Eh, I'll try to do both.

Best wishes for this season of Lent! :-)

Monday, March 7, 2011


It's been a week now. So far, Paideia is little more than a "link blog" but I'm getting the hang of things. ;-)

Currently, I'm dealing with technical difficulties, but, hopefully, that'll soon pass. Thank you for your patience.

Be Not Offended at My Sufferings

Martyrdom of St. Perpetua

March 7th is the Feast of St. Perpetua and St. Felicity, two Christian martyrs of the early 3rd century. Having been raised Catholic, I grew up well versed in tales of martyrdom. However, when I started my studies in theology, this martyrdom was the first that I considered with a critical mind. It set off my skepticism towards the veneration of saints and led me to the study of mystical phenomenology.

I see Perpetua as the principle protagonist of the narrative. For me, she is both heroic and villainous, tragic and pathetic. She provokes from me a sense of love/hate. She expresses both admirable and detestable qualities of religious devotion.

In the mid-90s, I wrote a short story about martyrdom in an attempt to articulate this ambiguity. It was never published, but I occasionally play with the idea of attempting a rewrite. Hopefully, my advanced age has brought with it advanced wisdom. ;-)

Here is a link to Perpetua's Wikipedia page.

Here's an on-line English early Christian text: The Passion of the Holy Martyrs Perpetua and Felicitas

Here's a video of the Perpetua's Dream of the Golden Ladder, albeit is kid cartoon style:

Sunday, March 6, 2011

To Cross the Magpie Bridge

Tanabata, Bertha Lum, (1912)

I visited the Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena. It's a small venue, but with a decent collection. Usually, there aren't any "show-stopper" works on exhibit. However, currently there is a show called "Visions of the Orient: Western Women Artists in Asia 1900-1940." It's a solid display, especially the Bertha Lum pieces.

My favorite work was the image above, Tanabata. It's based on a story about two lovers seperated from each other by the river of the Milky Way. Once a year, a bridge is formed by a flock of magpies by which the lovers may be briefly reunited for the night. Beautiful story and a beautiful work of art.

Here are a few more photos that I took while visiting the PAM. Enjoy!!!

Guardian Spirit

Tibetan Gallery

Inner Courtyard Koi Pond

Check out the Pacific Asia Museum's website here. It's worth a visit.

Figures Slumbering in the Stone

Michelangelo was born on March 6, 1475. Overall, he isn't one of my favorite artists, but I have boundless appreciation for his work. However, the Pieta is probably my favorite sculpture of all time. I fell in love with the Virgin Mary when I first saw it. Creepy, but true. ;-)

Here's a link to its page at the St. Peter's Basilica website.

For a decent bio of Michelangelo, check out his Wikipedia page.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

That Girl So Scandalous

(Photo NOT of Ms. Hamper)

An Ohio TV anchor tried to write off  $167,356 from her taxes in beauty supplies, clothing, and other aestetic/cosmetic accessories and enhancements. Including thongs!!! Money quote:

"She claimed they were all essential to her job, because after all, you can only trust the word of someone who is pretty. Also, outside beauty is only part of the picture; it really matters whether she feels pretty and sexy, which is, we guess, where the thongs come in."

The court disagreed with her premise. ;-)

Sources: Ohio TV Anchor Discovers Thongs Are Not Tax Deductible

I can't pass up the opportunity for a joke:

Q- What do barbed wire and thongs have in common?
A- Both protect the property, but neither obstruct the view.

And Where Are the Clowns?

Photo: Ben Hider / Getty Images

I've got to admit it. Although Ronald creeps me out and I loath eating McDonald's "food", reports that he's being phased out make me a bit sad. He's an American pop culture icon, along with Mickey Mouse or Superman or Snoopy. Yeah, the aforementioned characters are entertainment-based while Ronald is advertising-based, but his image-identification is just as strong. I guess that's the problem.

According to a Bloomberg article, "Ronald McDonald Sidelined as Chain Touts Lattes", McDonald's is trying to shed its fast-food image. And Ronald is inseperable from that image. Money quote:

“He kind of represents the old McDonald’s, with the high- fat content foods that are kind of falling out of favor.”

Oh well, at least Ronald still has Japan. ;-)

Friday, March 4, 2011

A Flower for Friday Festivites

Lily of the Streetside

The Lily
(William Blake)

The modest Rose puts forth a thorn,
The humble sheep a threat'ning horn:
While the Lily white shall in love delight,
Nor a thorn nor a threat stain her beauty bright.

Beneath the Brilliant Canopy of Spring

La Primavera, (c.1482), Sandro Botticelli

Antonio Vivaldi was born 333 years ago, on March 4, 1678. Born in Venice, his music captures the spirit of the city. The play of lightness and shade, the opulence and grace, it evokes the Baroque Venetian aesthetic. Even his sacred music contains hints of Venice's hedonistic style.

Here's a link to the Vivaldi page at Wikipedia.

(Btw: I know that Botticelli's Primavera is from Renaissance Florence, but I've been wanting to post it up for a few days now. I couldn't pass up the opportunity.)


Thursday, March 3, 2011

There Is No Light Without Darkness

"Star Light, Star Fright" (2008) by Anthony Clarkson

I've been thinking about marionettes. They creep me out with their jerky movement, frozen faces, and gravity defiant steps. It's likely a variation of the Uncanny Valley effect. Likewise, realistic 3D computer animation and humanoid robots make me just as uncomfortable.

With regard to marionettes, I enjoy the chills that they give me. It's a morbid fascination that keeps me watching, even as the goosebumps crawl across my skin. The image above captures the feeling, the tension between menace and enthrallment. I like it!

I'm really fond of Anthony Clarkson's work. Creepy, yet captivating. If you're interested in such a dark aesthetic, make certain to visit his website, the Grim Wonderland.

Here's another example of the delightfully uncanny. Enjoy!

Successfully Navigating an Asteroid Field

More planet-destroying terror from space! ;-)

There's an brief interesting article at Discovery News. There's not much info, but it has cool graphics and informative links. And "killer asteroids" are one of my pet topics.

I'm a Science Fiction enthusiast. Two classic SF novels that I'd recommend on this topic are Lucifer's Hammer and the Hammer of God. Both are thought-provoking reads.

As the Peach-Blossom Flows Down Stream

Look how strong the peach tree is
the blossoms are heavy in its branches
the girl that will be married shall bring
happiness and prosperity to the household.

Happy Peach Blossom Day!!!

The state flower of Delaware, symbol of immortality, feminine youthful charm, cultural elegance and the arrival of Spring, the peach blossom is one of my favorite flowers.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Unless Someone like You Cares a Whole Awful Lot

"You're off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So... get on your way!"
- Dr. Seuss (Oh, the Places You'll Go!)

Which writer has had the greatest influence on the way you live your life? That's a tough question for me to answer. However, in my Top Ten list, I'd definitely have to list Dr. Seuss. As a child, I was an avid reader and Dr. Seuss' books were among my favorites. I loved the illustrations. I was delighted by the sound of the word read aloud. And the stories had purposes.

Horton defends those who are "beneath notice." The Grinch discovers that joy isn't limited to material goods. The Lorax warns against reckless consumption. These tales and others had ethical dimensions written in a manner so that even a young child might understand. They left an indelible mark upon my spirit by teaching me about empathy and compassion in my earliest years.

Even today, when I read or hear a Seussian tale, it feels as if my "heart grows three sizes" upon the conclusion.

Here's a link to Dr. Seuss' Wikipedia page.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

And the Dead Will Pray for You.

Continuing our celebration of Chopin's music in an angsty, Romantic style. Euterpe weeps over her broken lyre.

Carried Over the Waves of the Resounding Sea

Sandro Botticelli was born on March 1, 1445. I am also amazed by the beauty and grace of his paintings. Mesmerizing masterpieces, they keep me captivated with their ethereal elegance.

Its hard to choose a favorite. My answer changes from day to day, year to year. Today, I think my dearest love goes to the Birth of Venus. She is the ideal expression of Italian Renaissance femininity.

However, if you can pull yourself away from Venus, there is an abundance of beauty in Botticelli's gallery. I like this Botticelli site. For a brief bio of this great artist, Wikipedia is a good place to start. Enjoy!!!

Calling Mr. Carrington

On Thursday, February 24, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory caught this big ol' solar flare. It's an M 3.6 class flare, which is pretty impressive, albeit well below the X class.

I have a morbid fascination with solar flares. They are awesome expressions of cosmic power beyond human capacity. An event like the Solar Storm of 1859, the "Carrington Event", would mess up our modern communications something fierce. Of course, it could be even worse. Yikes!!!

This Pop Sci article has some more info.

Fortunately, it discharged away from Earth, so no electronic disruptions. That means we can enjoy this video worry and guilt free. Woo hoo!!!

An Extravagance of Original Ideas

Frédéric Chopin was born on March 1, 1810. Or maybe a week earlier.

Chopin's Wikipedia Page

When I discovered an interest in classical music, Chopin was not among my favorites. I liked music with lofty orchestration or rich vocals. Works like Mozart's Requiem or Beethoven's 9th Symphony were my type of music. Gradually, my tastes opened up to smaller ensemble pieces, like Schubert string quartets or Brahms piano trios. Finally, I started to discern the charm of instrumental solos.

Therefore, Chopin has gone from boring to beautiful in my estimation. When listening to his music, I feel my spirit elevated by his Romantic genius.