In Madrid, Julien de Casabianca is bringing Forgotten Classical Paintings Taken from Museums to the Streets
10 Interesting Facts About the Placebo Effect It can still work even if you know you're taking a placebo
Bigger than 87 average-sized IMAX screens, Hoover Dam Turned into an Enormous Projection Screen
Beautiful art made from old keys and coins by self-taught Australian artist Michael Moerkerk.
10 Amazingly Enjoyable Things About Having Kids
Is having kids 'all joy and no fun'? Totally wrong. If you're not having fun, you're not paying attention.
Scientists Claim They Found a New Species of Frog, and It Looks Like Kermit. The newly discovered species of translucent frog, Hyalinobatrachium dianae, was found in Costa Rica's Talamanca Mountains.
Dutch artist/physicist Arie van't Riet
Twinkie's Miracle Comeback: The Untold, Inside Story of a $2 Billion Feast
But while you wouldn’t find Twinkies on Whole Foods’ shelves or in Gwyneth Paltrow’s pantry, Hostess had something you can’t find in a locally sourced, chia–seed snack–millions of nostalgic fans. “The brand awareness was unbelievable,” says Jhawar. “It’s not every day you have an opportunity to acquire a brand that is ubiquitous, that had $1 billion in revenue before the bankruptcy and 80–plus years of legacy.”
Pasta? Ruby grapefruits? Why organic devotees love foods mutated by radiation and chemicals
Ruby Red grapefruits, along with 3,000 other crop varieties consumed by millions every day, were actually created through mutation breeding, also known as mutagenesis. Plants were exposed to atomic radiation, thousands of genes scrambled in laboratory experiments that took years.
In the last 60 years, mutation breeding has produced a sizeable fraction of the world’s crops. Varieties of wheat, including almost all the most popular varieties used to make top-grade Italian pasta, vegetables, fruit, rice, herbs and cotton have been altered or enhanced with gamma rays, and often separately or additionally soaked in toxic chemicals, in the hopes of producing new desirable, traits. Now these varieties are marketed as conventional and organic foods, and are unlabelled.
From Bon Appetit. Be a Rebel: Cook Your Vegetables to Death
But last summer I had an experience with a pot of fat green Romano beans that changed the whole game for me. They were cooked to the point of collapse, completely soft and yielding, a process that took (gasp!) two whole hours. Seasoned with nothing more than olive oil, garlic, and salt (plenty of all three), they were insanely delicious: deeply vegetal, rich and satisfying, completely yielding in texture but maintaining definition. They turned my whole vegetable-cooking world upside down. I didn’t miss the crunch. I just wanted more…….With a little care, soft-cooked vegetables can be more satisfying than any raw kale salad could ever dream of being. We developed a formula for long-cooked vegetables so good it had editors’ eyes rolling back in their heads.
The co-founder of Earth Day Ira Einhorn killed then composted his girlfriend. He jumped bail and evaded authorities for 23 years before he was extradited to the U.S. to be tried for murder. His defense? The CIA did it. The jury didn't buy it and he was found guilty and is now serving his life sentence.
If you haven't seen the video of the giraffes diving into a swimming pool by animator Nicolas Deveaux, don't wait any longer
‘The Drop Box,’ Where Disabled Babies Go to Live A new documentary tells the story of ‘The Drop Box,’ where image-conscious South Koreans leave disabled babies to a welcoming pastor and his family.
Life can change in a moment. In June 2011, while eating cereal, Brian Ivie, a film student at the University of California, came across a front-page profile of Lee in the Los Angeles Times. Inspired by the story of the South Korean pastor tending an “unwanted flock” and mindful of how fleeting news can be, Ivie determined to bring Pastor Lee’s story to a broader audience. He contacted Lee and asked if he could make a documentary about his work. Lee responded that although he did not know what a documentary was, Ivie could come to his home in Seoul for a visit.
Lee responded that although he did not know what a documentary was, Ivie could come to his home in Seoul for a visit. Ivie raised funding for his project on Kickstarter, and six months later, he and a small film crew headed to South Korea.
“We need stories like this one…to assert truth, that there are miracles, that heroes exist, and that love endures even amid daily tragedy,” he told his funders.
“The Drop Box” chronicles Lee’s life and work. Lee, the pastor of Jusarang Community Church in a working-class neighborhood of Seoul, has been taking in unwanted infants since 2009. Lee built his “baby box” after getting a call early one chilly autumn morning. “In front of the door,” said the voice on the other line. When he and his wife went to their front door, they found a baby, cold to the touch, in a cardboard box. Lee worried about what would have happened had they not found her until later.
So he got out his tools and built a heated box on the side of his church, lining it with blankets, rigging it with a bell, and affixing to it a sign that reads, “This is a facility for the protection of life. If you can’t take care of your disabled babies, don’t throw them away or leave them on the street. Bring them here.”
Since 2009, Lee’s baby box has saved 600 children, some of them deposited there only hours after birth. Lee and his staff generally have up to 20 children in their care, and he and his wife have adopted ten (the maximum number of children South Koreans can adopt). They receive a new child through the box every few days, provide initial care for the child, then hand him over to the police, who help place the child in an orphanage.
The Drop Box” reminds us that out of the deepest places of hurt come hope, that every life has dignity, and that it is what we make of the life-changing moments that determines how they shape our lives. As the father of a severely disabled child, Lee could have become resentful and isolated. Instead, Eun-man’s life catalyzed him to serve and love other disabled children in South Korea. His story reminds us, as Ivie said, that there are miracles, there are heroes, and love endures. Someday, perhaps we will live in a world where baby boxes are not needed. Until then, we need stories—and examples—like Pastor Lee’s.
The film opened March 16
You can see the trailer at thedropboxfilm.com
Lars Anderson takes Archery to a whole new level. What he can do is absolutely amazing
Bill Whittle in Number One with a Bullet. A devastatingly effective video that shows while the U.S. is number one in gun ownership per capita, it is one of the safest places to be in the world.
The Amazing Video that takes you INSIDE the Largest Photograph Ever Taken is awesome and mind-blowing.
Earlier this month, NASA and ESA released the biggest and highest resolution image of our galactic neighbor, Andromeda, that has ever been taken. The 1.5 billion pixel image was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. Each tiny dot of light in the picture represents one of 1 trillion stars in the galaxy; many with their own expansive planetary systems.
As you watch this video and contemplate Andromeda’s mind-boggling size, remember that this is just a drop in the bucket compared to the rest of the universe. As large as this galaxy is, it is only one out of 200 billion galaxies in the known universe
Van Gogh likely based his famed Starry Night on this scientific illustration of the Whirlpool Galaxy by one William Parsons that appeared in a 19th century popular astronomy tome, according to Michael Benson's new book Cosmigraphics, a history of our efforts to illustrate the universe.
4. The string of typographical symbols comic strips use to indicate profanity ("$%@!") is called a grawlix.
7. What do you call a group of rattlesnakes? A rhumba.
8. To waste time by being lazy is to dringle.
Because Groundhog Day is one of my favorite movies of all time, I want to quote from Jonah Goldberg's classic column on A Movie for All Time Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, Groundhog Day scores.
A far more important one is why the day repeats itself and why it stops repeating at the end. Because the viewer is left to draw his own conclusions, we have what many believe is the best cinematic moral allegory popular culture has produced in decades — perhaps ever.
Interpretations of this central mystery vary. But central to all is a morally complicated and powerful story arc to the main character. When Phil Connors arrives in Punxsutawney, he’s a perfect representative of the Seinfeld generation: been-there-done-that. When he first realizes he’s not crazy and that he can, in effect, live forever without consequences — if there’s no tomorrow, how can you be punished? — he indulges his adolescent self. He shoves cigarettes and pastries into his face with no fear of love-handles or lung cancer. “I am not going to play by their rules any longer,” he declares as he goes for a drunk-driving spree. He uses his ability to glean intelligence about the locals to bed women with lies. When that no longer gratifies, he steals money and gets kinky, dressing up and play-acting. When Andie MacDowell sees him like this she quotes a poem by Sir Walter Scott: “The wretch, concentrated all in self / Living, shall forfeit fair renown / And, doubly dying, shall go down / To the vile dust, from whence he sprung / Unwept, unhonoured, and unsung.”
Connors cackles at her earnestness. “You don’t like poetry?” She asks. “I love poetry,” he replies, “I just thought that was Willard Scott.”
Still, Connors schemes to bed Rita with the same techniques he used on other women, and fails, time and again. When he realizes that his failures stem not from a lack of information about Rita’s desires but rather from his own basic hollowness, he grows suicidal.
The point is that Connors slowly realizes that what makes life worth living is not what you get from it, but what you put into it. He takes up the piano. He reads poetry — no longer to impress Rita, but for its own sake. He helps the locals in matters great and small, including catching a boy who falls from a tree every day. “You never thank me!” he yells at the fleeing brat. He also discovers that there are some things he cannot change, that he cannot be God. The homeless man whom Connors scorns at the beginning of the film becomes an obsession of his at the end because he dies every Groundhog Day. Calling him “pop” and “dad,” Connors tries to save him but never can.
By the end of the film, Connors is no longer obsessed with bedding Rita. He’s in love with her, without reservation and without hope of his affection being requited. Only in the end, when he completely gives up hope, does he in fact “get” the woman he loves. And with that, with her love, he finally wakes on February 3, the great wheel of life no longer stuck on Groundhog Day. As NR’s own Rick Brookhiser explains it, “The curse is lifted when Bill Murray blesses the day he has just lived. And his reward is that the day is taken from him. Loving life includes loving the fact that it goes.”
I love good movies but there's a lot of dreck out there, so I depend on reviews and recommendations to help me choose what I want to see. With streaming video, we have more choices of movies from all around the world and recommendations become even more important. With that mind, here are the 'movies' I most enjoyed this year, some of them several years old; but I hope they help you find a good movie you otherwise wouldn't have known about or considered.
Parade’s End, 2013 5 part BBC/HBO. Amazon Instant Video
Written by Tom Stoppard, based on the novels of the same name by Ford Madox Ford with Benedict Cumberbatch as Christopher Tietjens.
A brilliant government statistician from an aristocratic family, Christopher Tietjens marries the beautiful and sexually manipulative Sylvia believing he is the father of her child. She recklessly, even vindictively carries on affairs, yet he refuses to divorce her despite being attracted to the young suffragette Valentine Wallop. He is the 'last Tory' and is too honorable to be unfaithful to his wife. As WWI begins, Christopher goes to fight in France, leaving both women behind. When the war ends, he must decide with whom he will spend the rest of his life. Widely praised as one of the finest things the BBC has ever made, Benedict Cumberbatch's acting is faultless and often achingly moving, a painful juxtaposition of emotional stiffness and deep, crippling vulnerability"
Ida, 2013 Polish, directed by Pawel Pawlikowski. Netflix
In 1960s Poland, Anna, a young novice nun is told by her prioress that before her vows can be taken, she is to visit her family. Anna visits her aunt Wanda, a judge and former prosecutor associated with the Stalinist regime, who dispassionately reveals that Anna's actual name is Ida Lebenstein, and that her Jewish parents were murdered during the war. Ida decides she wants to find their resting place. She and Wanda embark on a journey that both sheds light on their past, and decides their futures. A stunning and beautiful movie in black and white.
Top of the Lake 2013 -7 Episodes Netflix
A television miniseries written by Jane Campion and Gerard Lee, filmed and set in New Zealand. Elizabeth Moss (of Mad Men fame) is a detective investigating the disappearance of a 12-year-old girl, Tui Mitcham. Beautiful, mysterious and riveting.
Rake, Australian mini series 2010 Netflix
Cleaver Greene is a brilliant but self-destructive lawyer in Sydney and is the lawyer you would want if you were ever in deep trouble. Even as his life is spiraling out of control, "He's a lawyer who acts for those clients whose cases appear utterly hopeless, a man always on the wrong side of conventional wisdom, his energy kinetic and his charisma inescapable."
"An elegantly paced comedy of rather bad manners, which is also an off-beat character study and a seemingly unfolding relationship drama. He wraps these up in a rather ironic narrative that echoes the legal thriller and the courtroom drama, gently parodying both."
The Chorus (Les Choristes) French, 2004. Netflix
Pierre Morhange, a widely successful orchestra conductor, returns to France when his mother dies. He reminisces about his childhood inspirations when he and his former classmate Pépinot read the diary of their old music teacher Clément. In 1949, a young Pierre is the badly behaved son of single mother Violette .He attends the boarding institution for "difficult" boys, Fond de L'Étang ("Bottom of the Pond"), presided over by strict headmaster Mr Rachin. A new teacher Mathieu brightens up the school and assembles a choir, leading to the discovery of Pierre's musical and physical talents and a transformation in the children.
Deadwood, HBO, 2004-2006 - Amazon streaming video
Set in Deadwood, South Dakota, this American western mixes real characters like Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane, Wyatt Earp with fictional ones to chart the growth of Deadwood from camp to town as the inhabitants band together to create a civil society on the frontier, bringing order out of chaos.
With the exception of the profligate profanity throughout (a deliberate anachronism), the series is true to history, depicting violence, racism, prostitution, greed and the often corrupt politics of frontier life along with bravery, self-sacrifice, love and loyalty.
Calvary, Irish, 2014, still in theaters.
Brendan Gleeson is sensational as Father James, a good priest who is told in the confessional that he will be killed in one week's time because of the sex abuse the unknown parishioner suffered at the hands of a bad priest. As the week unfolds in the spiritual desert of contemporary Ireland, he cares for and confronts his parishioners and is met with condescension, even contempt, as he soldiers on to his own personal Calvary. The end, though grim, is filled with hope as his daughter (he became a priest after the death of his wife) visits the murderer in jail.
Fleming, The Man Who Would Be Bond, BBC America, 2013 Amazon instant video
The young Ian Fleming who would go on to create James Bond in a series of novels was a dissolute playboy with a dead war hero father, a successful brother and a disappointed yet ambitious mother who urges him to make something of himself and secures for him a job in naval intelligence as WW2 looms. His imaginative, unorthodox approach brings results when nothing else does and Fleming becomes exceptionally skilled as a master of espionage. In time, he becomes the commanding officer of a new unit of Intelligence Commandos to best the Nazis and is asked by the Americans to draw up a blueprint for a similar agency of spies. All the while, he carries on a twisted love affair with the already married Ann O'Neill and mistress of the editor of The Daily Mail.
Throughly engaging and well-acted, I don't know how much is true, but if it is, his life was as fantastic as any of his novels.
Broadchurch, 8 episodes British ITV, 2013, Netflix.
In a Dorset coastal town, an 11-year-old boy is found dead on a beach. The series focuses on the search for the boy's murderer and the impact of grief, mutual suspicion and the media have on the town. In the U.K., it won universal praise and enormous ratings success however, the Americanized
version, Gracepoint on Fox, made barely a stir. Broadchurch is emotionally resonant in its depiction of death's aftermath, the acting of the entire ensemble is terrific and the music is haunting.
Olive Kitteridge, HBO, 2014
I read and loved the book which won a Pulitzer Prize for its series of thirteen interconnected short stories. I found the character of Olive compelling, unforgettable and a Yankee to her core - crusty, sometimes even cruel with her tart remarks, other times immensely funny, often depressed (her father committed suicide and she discovered the body) with occasional bursts with unexpected love and generosity. Frances McDormand is brilliant as Olive and Richard Jenkins superb as her tender, kind husband.
Moveon and Mayday, two left wing groups, sponsored a video contest for the best ad about the “the crisis of big money in our politics”
When Phil Karpen of the conservative group American Commitment submitted a video about the biggest donor in America Tom Steyer , the progressive climate alarmist who got rich over cheap foreign coal, it won 15 times as many votes as the second-place competitor. So they changed the rules and allowed an extra day of voting.
MoveOn.Org Changes Its Contest Rules After Conservative Group’s Video Takes Commanding Lead
“Pretty funny that liberal groups who pretend to hate money in politics are driven to panic and willing to embarrass themselves with a last-minute rules change to forestall the possibility that a submission about by far the biggest donor in America might win their contest,” American Commitment’s Phil Kerpen told The Daily Caller. “Steyer has spent $42M+ this year, more than the top 31 Republican donors combined. But he’s a liberal, so they love him.”
But on Monday, MoveOn named an environmentalist video called “This Is Your Country,” produced by MAYDAY.us as the contest winner, despite the fact that it only received 99 votes. MAYDAY, of course, co-sponsored the contest itself.
“The leaders of ‘pro-democracy’ groups chose a video that got 99 votes over a video that got 7,590 votes — because the latter was about liberal Tom Steyer and the former was against fossil fuels,” Kerpen said. “It speaks for itself.”
So let's at least give Karpen's video, The Biggest Hypocrite, the People's Choice award.
Powerline: Moveon and Mayday explain: When we say 'money' we mean conservative money!
From Brainpickings, Tarkovsky’s Advice to the Young: Learn to Enjoy Your Own Company
I don’t know… I think I’d like to say only that they should learn to be alone and try to spend as much time as possible by themselves. I think one of the faults of young people today is that they try to come together around events that are noisy, almost aggressive at times. This desire to be together in order to not feel alone is an unfortunate symptom, in my opinion. Every person needs to learn from childhood how to be spend time with oneself. That doesn’t mean he should be lonely, but that he shouldn’t grow bored with himself because people who grow bored in their own company seem to me in danger, from a self-esteem point of view.
From Wikipedia Andrei Tarkovsky, a Russian film-maker is widely regarded as one of the greatest film-makers of all time.
His films include Ivan's Childhood, Andrei Rublev, Solaris, The Mirror, and Stalker. He directed the first five of his seven feature films in the Soviet Union; his last two films, Nostalgia and The Sacrifice, were produced in Italy and Sweden, respectively. ….Tarkovsky's films are characterized by metaphysical themes, extremely long takes, and memorable images of exceptional beauty….
Ingmar Bergman said, "Tarkovsky for me is the greatest (director), the one who invented a new language, true to the nature of film, as it captures life as a reflection, life as a dream."
Viewers and critics always have their personal favourites, but some films achieve a masterpiece status that becomes unanimously agreed upon – something that's undoubtedly true of Andrei Rublev, even though it's a film that people often feel they don't, or won't get. It is 205 minutes long (in its fullest version), in Russian, and in black and white. Few characters are clearly identified, little actually happens, and what does happen isn't necessarily in chronological order. Its subject is a 15th-century icon painter and national hero, yet we never see him paint, nor does he do anything heroic. In many of the film's episodes, he is not present at all, and in the latter stages, he takes a vow of silence. But in a sense, there is nothing to "get" about Andrei Rublev. It is not a film that needs to be processed or even understood, only experienced and wondered at.
From the first scene, following the flight of a rudimentary hot air balloon, we're whisked away by silken camera moves and stark compositions to a time and place where we're no less confused, amazed or terrified than Rublev himself. For the next three hours, we're down in the muck and chaos of medieval Russia, carried along on the tide of history through gruesome Tartar raids, bizarre pagan rituals, famine, torture and physical hardship. We experience life on every scale, from raindrops falling on a river to armies ransacking a town, often within the same, unbroken shot.
Despite its apparent formlessness, Andrei Rublev is precisely structured and entirely aesthetically coherent. Acts of creation are mirrored by acts of destruction, there are themes of flight, of vision, of presence and absence; the more you look, the more you see. And then there are the horses, Tarkovsky's perennial favourite: horses rolling over, horses charging into battle, swimming in the river, falling down stairs, dragging men out of churches. At times the screen resembles a vast Brueghel painting come to life, or a medieval tapestry unrolling. We're always conscious of life spilling out beyond the frame, and never conscious of the fact that this was made in 60s USSR…..
We don't necessarily know, or need to know, how Andrei Rublev works or what it's telling us, but by the end we're in no doubt it's succeeded. When in the final minutes, the film pulls off its most famous flourish: the screen bursts into colour and we're finally ready to see Rublev's paintings in extreme close-up – coming at the end of this epic journey, they can reduce a viewer to tears. As the camera pores over the details, the tiny jewels on the hem of a robe, the lines forming a pitiful expression on the face of an angel, the tarnished gilding of a halo, we feel like we understand everything that's gone into every brushstroke. We're reminded of what beauty is. It is as close to transcendence as cinema gets.
An illustration from a medieval manuscript depicts monks copying books by hand in a monastery.
Polemicists who comment on blogs often blame the Church for the Dark Ages. Actual historians know that the Dark Ages, insofar as they were dark, were darkened by the barbarian invasions that inundated the western Roman Empire, and that it was only in the Church (and in its monasteries in particular) that any light was preserved. It might be a bit of a stretch to suggest (as Thomas Cahill did in his book of similar name) that “the Irish (i.e. the Irish monks) saved civilization,” but it is certain that whatever vestiges of earlier Roman civilization managed to be saved were saved by the Church.
It was the pagan Gothic tribes sweeping down from the north and east that submerged classical Roman and Christian culture in a sea of barbarism. It was the Church that tried to preserve what learning it could, and which strove valiantly to convert them. After centuries of work it did a passable job, and it was only thanks to this that classic learning was preserved to become the foundation for later progress. On that foundation the west has built many things, including modern democracy, modern science, and the concept of human rights. But the foundation upon which they were built was a Christian one, one laid painfully and laboriously by the Church in the so-called Dark Ages. In short: it was the pagans who turned out the lights. It was the Church who kept a lamp burning, and eventually turned the lights back on again.
In all these debates about the Church and the Dark Ages, the real disagreement is not between the Church and the secularists, but between real scholars and ignoramuses. . Real historical scholars know that the concept of “the Dark Ages” is an historical construct of fairly recent vintage, and that the Church of that period was the defender of learning and the arts.
Some of the most important work carried on during the Dark Ages was done by humble monks copying ancient manuscripts in cold, dark monasteries.
The printing press had not yet been invented and all documents were copied by hand on parchment. Scribes copied thousands of Bibles and classical works for circulation in the Christian areas of Europe. Theirs was the labor that would lift the western world out of the darkness of ignorance and illiteracy.
Fortress Protection From Viking Barbarian Attacks
Viking invasions were a major danger for the peaceful monastic communities in Europe. The scriptorium was the most important room in a monastery next to the chapel itself and for this reason, these writing rooms were often built at the top of an attack-proof fortress tower with curved walls resembling a tall cylinder. The towers were separate buildings enclosed within the walls of the compound. The monks climbed 15 to 20 feet up a ladder to the scriptorium and then pulled a ladder up after them. This made it almost impossible for the attacking warriors to reach them.
A Monastic Scribe’s Workday
After lauds, the morning prayer, each scribe entered the scriptorium and worked hunched over at a tiny table while seated on a backless stool. The desk was placed in front of a small window that provided the only available light in the room. No candles or fires for warmth were allowed because of the flammability of the parchment material. They worked in these conditions no matter how cold or wet the weather might be.
The threat of the Vikings and the perilous nature of life in the Dark Ages is brilliantly told in The Secret of the Kells, the most beautiful animated movie I've ever seen. Variety called it "A Tour-de-Force!" and "Absolutely luscious to behold!". The LA Times movie critic Kenneth Turan said, "Four Stars! Ravishing! Magical! Glorious!" Now on dvd, it's a marvelous film for families and children.
And then there is the engaging classic by Thomas Cahill How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland's Heroic Role From the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe
But the best is probably by Thomas Woods, How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization. You can download as a free ebook chapter 3 How the Monks Saved Civilization here. You will learn how during a period of great turmoil as Roman rule collapsed all over Europe, Benedictine monasteries were "oases of order and peace".
"“Wherever they came,” adds still another, “they converted the wilderness into a cultivated country; they pursued the breeding of cattle and agriculture, labored with their own hands, drained morasses, and cleared away forests. By them Germany was rendered a fruitful country.” Another historian records that “every Benedictine monastery was an agricultural college for the whole region in which it was located.
For the monks, manual labor was a channel of grace. "They chose the most secluded and inaccessible sites to reinforce the communal solitude of their life and partly because this was land that lay donors could more easily give the monks. Although they cleared forests that stood in the way of human habitation and use, they were also careful to plant trees and conserve forests when possible.
They introduced new crops" "Here they would introduce the rearing of cattle and horses, there the brewing of beer or the raising of bees or fruit. In Sweden, the corn trade owed its existence to the monks; in Parma, it was cheese making; in Ireland, salmon fisheries—and, in a great many places, the finest vineyards." They pioneered in the production of wine and one monk Dom Perignon is credited with the discovery of champagne.
Monks as Technical Advisors. Cistercian monks were superb metallurgists. "In effect, whether it be the mining of salt, lead, iron, alum, or gypsum, or metallurgy, quarrying marble, running cutler’s shops and glassworks, or forging metal plates, also known as firebacks, there was no activity at all in which the monks did not display creativity and a fertile spirit of research. Utilizing their labor force, they instructed and trained it to perfection. They explored aviation. In the early 11th century, a monk named Eilmer flew more than 600 feet with a glider. Centuries later, a Jesuit priest , Father Francesco Lana-Terzi explored the subject of flight more systematically and earned the honor of being called the father of aviation. They built the first clocks one of which from the 14th century still sits in excellent condition in the London Science Museum.
Their charitable works ranged from the monasteries themselves that served as gratuitous inns for foreign travelers, pilgrim and the poor
to the building of lighthouses, the establishment of libraries, the preservation of classic texts and the preservation of the Bible.
Above all, they built schools and were teachers and laid the foundations for universities. "They were the thinkers and philosophers of the day and shaped the political and religious thought. To them, both collectively and individually, was due the continuity of thought and civilization of the ancient world with the later Middle Ages."
"The monastic contribution to Western civilization, as we have seen, is immense. Among other things, the monks taught metallurgy, introduced new crops, copied ancient texts, preserved literacy, pioneered in technology, invented champagne, improved the European landscape, provided for wanderers of every stripe, and looked after the lost and shipwrecked. "
Another horrifying example of our toxic culture. 60% of teens face 'sexting' pressure: More than half have been asked to take explicit self-portrait in practice that is now seen as 'pretty normal' by youngsters
ChildLine poll of 500 children showed the extent of sexting culture in schools. A majority of children had been asked for explicit pictures. Half of children had received 'sexts' and 40 per cent had taken them. 15 per cent of those who took pictures sent them to total strangers.
I'm with Lewis C.K. when it comes to cellphones for kids.
Good for parents, good for kids. Regular Bedtimes Tied to Better Behavior
A regular bedtime schedule is unquestionably helpful for parents, but a new study has found it that it may be even more beneficial for their children.
After controlling for many social, economic and parental behavioral factors, the scientists found that children with a regular bedtime, whether early or late, had fewer behavioral problems. And the longer irregular bedtimes persisted, the more severe the difficulties were……The study, published Monday in Pediatrics, also found that children who had irregular bedtimes at ages 3 and 5 had significant improvements in behavior scores if their bedtime was regular by age 7.
Another reason to breastfeed. Health risk: formula milk has '100 times more aluminium than breast'
Formula baby milk can contain 100 times more aluminum than breast milk, which could pose risks to health, researchers have warned after a new study.
"Aluminum can also produce anaemia in individuals, which is not then helped by giving people more iron.
"How may this aluminum be impacting on the immediate and long-term health of the baby - these are questions that are still unanswered.
There's a very good chance that some of this aluminum is coming from the packaging and an equal chance it is in the ingredients. Processing is also likely to be a source."
Consider seriously music lessons for your kids. NYT Is Music the Key to Success?
Multiple studies link music study to academic achievement. But what is it about serious music training that seems to correlate with outsize success in other fields?
The phenomenon extends beyond the math-music association. Strikingly, many high achievers told me music opened up the pathways to creative thinking. And their experiences suggest that music training sharpens other qualities: Collaboration. The ability to listen. A way of thinking that weaves together disparate ideas. The power to focus on the present and the future simultaneously.
Paul Allen offers an answer. He says music “reinforces your confidence in the ability to create.”
Mr. Todd says there is a connection between years of practice and competition and what he calls the “drive for perfection.”
For many of the high achievers I spoke with, music functions as a “hidden language,” as Mr. Wolfensohn calls it, one that enhances the ability to connect disparate or even contradictory ideas.
Consider the qualities these high achievers say music has sharpened: collaboration, creativity, discipline and the capacity to reconcile conflicting ideas. All are qualities notably absent from public life. Music may not make you a genius, or rich, or even a better person. But it helps train you to think differently, to process different points of view — and most important, to take pleasure in listening.
I am a big fan of Breaking Bad, so I'm looking forward to the final season which begins on Sunday. Curiously, I've been unable to watch any of the last season again because the series makes me so uncomfortable. This article explains why.
Why We Need Breaking Bad Watching Walt's slow slide off the moral cliff might just inoculate us against what TV usually teaches.
I think Breaking Bad is a great show because it rejects this line of thinking, because its running time is a five-season rebuttal to the idea that there are choices that matter and choices that don't. Walt's pride at a dinner table is ultimately as important to the villain he becomes as his murder, his lying as corruptive as his violence. In Gilligan's eyes, there's no differentiating between Walt's pride and his rage and his enviousness and his determination to succeed at all costs, to be the Kingpin, the only one. Telling the story of how Walt chose to become the villain takes every minute of all 67 episodes aired so far.
Walter is us. And that is a dangerous message, and it hurts. It hurts to be awakened to choices you didn't know you were failing to make, or making poorly. It is always, always easier to deny choice than to accept it, to want to brush things off until it's really important
A Harvard film scholar has revealed in terrifying detail how Hollywood was at the whim of the Nazis throughout the 1930s - censoring films and dropping others in a sinister collaboration with Hitler.
In one particularly extreme case, one non-Jewish MGM executive divorced his Jewish wife at the demand of Germany's Propaganda Ministry - and she ended up in a concentration camp
In his new book, Ben Urwand has revealed how studios including MGM, Paramount and 20th Century Fox failed to stand up to Hitler and painted his regime as heroic and desirable.
'I want to bring out a hidden episode in Hollywood history and an episode that has not been reported accurately,' the Harvard scholar said.
Although other film historians dispute it, Urwand said studio chiefs were happy to work with Nazi censors to change or cancel productions so that they could keep access to the German film market. From 1932, Nazi laws meant studios could have their licenses revoked if they produced films, shown in Germany or abroad, that were considered offensive to Germans. Urwand believes that filmmakers not only wanted to continue working during the build up to the war, they also thought Hitler may win the war and wanted to safeguard the future of their businesses.
In his book, The Collaboration: Hollywood's Pact with Hitler, which has been excerpted in the Hollywood Reporter, in Urwand said that Hollywood was happy to bow to Hitler's demands.
For example, when All Quiet on the Western Front was released in December 1930, Joseph Goebbels told protesters to set off stink bombs and release mice in the movie theaters. It caused such disruptions throughout theaters that the films were stopped and it was eventually banned from the country, due to how Germans felt they had been depicted.
In the mid-1930s, relationships between studios and prominent Nazis grew and Paramount hired a manager for its German branch, Paul Thiefes, who was a member of the Nazi party. It was at the time that the head of MGM in Germany, Frits Strengholt, divorced his Jewish wife at the request of the Propaganda Ministry.
They paid attention to workers too; German composers dubbed music originally created by Jewish musicians, while names were slashed from credits if they had dealt with anti-Nazi films in the past.
Bill Donovan of the Catholic League comments in Hollywood and Hitler
Standing against the Hollywood moguls, Urwand says, was Joseph Breen, the Irish Catholic official who worked for, and eventually succeeded, Will Hays of the so-called Hays Office; the private association monitored Hollywood movies for objectionable fare. Looks like Breen’s commitment to decency trumped Hollywood’s commitment to cash. Breen was not a fan of the way Hollywood conducted itself, but he did not balk when asked by the two authors of the Hays Code, Martin Quigley and Jesuit priest Father Daniel Lord, to make a public statement condemning anti-Semitism in 1939.
When the Catholic League merely criticizes a movie, we are tagged a censor. When Hollywood studio chiefs cooperate with Chinese government agents by altering their films, they find ways to congratulate themselves. For example, Steven Soderbergh welcomes the input of Communist censors: “It’s fascinating to listen to people’s interpretation of your story.” He must have learned his obsequiousness from those who collaborated with Hitler.
Walter Russell Mead, When It Comes to Working, 74 is the New 65
Workers aged 60-74 now command better wages on average than workers 25-59, according to a new Brookings Institution study:
With innovations in health care it will become possible for workers to stay productively employed even later into life, as long as employers invest smartly and wisely in the physical health of their employees. This will be good for older Americans, because working is an essential part of a full human life and a key determinant of happiness. It will be good for younger workers as well; as the aging work force reshapes the economy, young and old alike will benefit from more flexible, service-based employment.
The demographic shifts we’re experiencing now present a huge policy challenge for the country in the short term, but in the long term they could be a source of strength for the US economy.
Singing for Old Folk A Search for Harmony
You may recall “Young@Heart,” the 2008 documentary about a Northampton, Mass., senior chorus of the same name. Going strong since 1982, the group rehearses twice a week, has released three CDs and has given concerts around the world, most recently in Belgium and Holland.
You might expect performers over age 73 — the minimum age — to stick with memory-fanning songs of their youth. But Young@Heart is currently working on tunes by Yo La Tengo and the Flaming Lips.
“It exercises the brain. You have to learn stuff,” the choir director Bob Cilman said. “People work hard to stay in and continue. It’s probably good for their health.”
There’s some evidence that he’s right. Choral singing has been shown to strengthen neural connections, fortify the immune system and reduce stress and depression. “It seems to tinker with the chemicals in the brain in just the right way to make people feel better,” said Stacy Horn, author of the new book “Imperfect Harmony: Finding Happiness Singing With Others.”
Opening this weekend is Unfinished Song with Vanessa Redgrave, Terence Stamp and Gemma Atherton. NYT film critic Stephen Holden says, "It may be hokum, but it gets to you."
It's been 40 years since the movie The Exorcist, the scariest movie ever made, was released. It won 10 Academy awards and become one of the highest grossing movies of all time, grossing over $441 million worldwide.
William Peter Blatty who wrote the book in 1971 and adapted it for screen, rewrote the book for its 40th anniversary and said, "The 40th Anniversary Edition of The Exorcist will have a touch of new material in it as part of an all-around polish of the dialogue and prose. First time around I never had the time (meaning the funds) to do a second draft, and this, finally, is it. With forty years to think about it, a few little changes were inevitable -- plus one new character in a totally new very spooky scene. This is the version I would like to be remembered for."
He was inspired by the 1949 exorcism case of Roland Doe. It began in Maryland, ended in St. Louis, and involved several Jesuits from Saint Louis University. Father Raymond J. Bishop, S.J. kept a day-by-day account of the exorcism. You can read his account here,
The young boy who was exorcised is still alive and living in the Washington, D.C. area. It's believed Robbie would be 77 today.
"He's had several children," Waide said. "He's moved back to the Washington D.C. area. He was non-Catholic, Lutheran nominally, but he became a Catholic. He was baptized during this whole episode."
It's been reported that Robbie named a son Michael. In the exorcism records, Robby tells the priests he was saved by St. Michael the Archangel.
In a priest's diary about the exorcism, this is the final footnote entry on page 29:
"Follow up: August 19, 1951. R and his father and mother visited the Brothers. R, now 16 is a fine young man. His father and mother also became Catholic, having received their first Holy Communion on Christmas Day, 1950."
“The soldier is not respected because he is doomed to death, but because he is ready for death; and even ready for defeat.” G. K. Chesterton.
Boston Common is a sea of flags placed by the Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund in memory of every fallen Massachusetts service member from the Civil War to the present.
Memorial Day is deeply personal—to me, as it is to any veteran, to any military family. It is a time of mixed emotion: solemn reflection and mourning, honor and admiration for those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of their country.
Let's remember on Memorial Day—and every other day, for that matter—that America did not become a nation without a fight…..It was not the Declaration of Independence that gave us freedom but the Continental Army. America was born from conflict, delivered by soldiers willing to pay with their blood the tremendous cost of freedom.
The dead did not wish to be martyred. They no doubt longed to return to their homes and families. But they believed in the "glorious cause," something far greater than themselves. Despite knowing the dangers before them, they followed Gen. Washington into the fray even when victory seemed hopeless and the cause all but lost.
Not because they have secured our ability to seek our individual good, but because they have given their lives in pursuit of a common, intrinsic, and greater good.
The sacrifice is felt most deeply by the women and families left behind. Amy Mixon kneels before grave of her husband Kelly who was killed by an IED in 2010 while serving in Afghanistan.
The Battle Hymn of the Republic, Henry Steele Commager called it "the one great song to come out of the Civil War, the one great song ever written in America". writes Mark Steyn
Whether or not that's true, most of us understand it has a depth and a power beyond most formal national songs. When John F Kennedy was assassinated, Judy Garland insisted on singing it on her TV show – the producers weren't happy about it, and one sneered that nobody would give a damn about Kennedy in a month's time. But it's an extraordinary performance. Little more than a year later, it was played at the state funeral of Winston Churchill at St Paul's Cathedral. Among those singing it was the Queen. She sang it again in public, again at St Paul's, for the second time in her life at the service of remembrance in London three days after September 11th 2001. That day, she also broke with precedent and for the first time sang another country's national anthem – "The Star-Spangled Banner". But it was Julia Ward Howe's words that echoed most powerfully that morning as they have done since she wrote them in her bedroom in Washington 140 years earlier:
As He died to make men holy
Let us die to make men free
While God is marching on.
The US Army Chorus sings at the White House in 2008 before President Bush and Pope Benedict on his visit to the U.S.
Anne Hathaway lost 25 lbs by eating oatmeal paste to look "near death" for her role as the factory worker turned prostitute Fantine in the upcoming, much anticipated movie Les Miserables.
Photographer Annie Leibovitz has some remarkable photographs of the cast which you can see here - They may be miserable, but they are stunning.
Incredible Dolphin Birth at Dolphin Quest Hawaii YouTube
The video below features the amazing 25,000-acre (40 square miles) Fair Oaks Dairy Farm in Indiana, where 32,000 dairy cows produce 2.5 million pounds of milk every day, which is enough milk from that one farm for all of the people in Chicago and Indianapolis (8 million residents). The herd of dairy cattle is so large that more than 80 calves are born every day, and the public is allowed to watch the births in a special glass-walled theater, as well as tour the entire facility. All of the farm’s energy is generated from the cow manure that is collected, processed and turned into methane, which then powers 100 percent of the farm’s electricity.
A Love Story in 22 Pictures. True love indeed, bring your kleenex.
The young Filipina who stepped up to a Karaoke machine in a Singapore grocery store and became an internet sensation.
Gratitude by Louie Schwartzberg
Song of the earth. The sound of radio waves in the earth's magnetosphere sounds a lot like birds chirping in a dawn chorus.
Puncturing the notion of 'You didn't build that' brilliantly.
Every two years, a huge floral carpet is laid out on the Grand Place in Brussels
It takes just four hours with everyone pitching in.
Possibly as an act of vengeance, a history professor--compiling, verbatim, several decades' worth of freshman papers--offers some of his students’ more striking insights into European history from the Middle Ages to the present.
Winners of the National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest 2012 The one below is by Ken Bower. But you really have to go to the link to see winners in all their glory.
What do you see when you look in the mirror? Tom Hussey's series on Reflections
Father Barron comments on "The Dark Knight Rises" and the problem of evil. Evil is solved by the great heroic self-sacrificing act of love on the part of a savior. The Christ archetype, he argues, haunts the Western culture even in a secular age. Bruce Wayne is an icon of Christ.
It's not just another day, not just another year. It's the gift of a new year. May you enjoy it to the full and be grateful for it all.
This is just wonderful.
Psychology Today reports Porn numbs body’s response to sexual pleasure
Robinson explains that the brain can become desensitized to dopamine, the neurotransmitter that activates the body’s reaction to sexual pleasure, through the kind of over-stimulation readily available via the internet’s porn culture.
The article cites one recovered porn addict who lays down three facts that other addicts should be aware of: “1. This is 100% fixable; 2. It will likely be one of the most difficult things you’ve ever done; 3. If you ever want a normal sex life again, you kinda don’t have another choice.”
Simcha Fisher in Pornography Addiction, Documented, points to the award-winning documentary, Out of Darkness, by Sean Finnegan that features stories of people who escaped from the prison-like world of pornography.
Judith Reisman, a world-renowned authority on the fraudulent world of popular sex science, gives her testimony, which is both academic and personal. Her own daughter was raped at the age of 10. She searched frantically for guidance, but got the same advice from everyone. They told her, “Well, children are sexual beings from birth” and “Your daughter was probably sending out vibes that she wanted it.”
Horrified, she searched for the source of these ideas. “I know a party line when I hear it,” she says cannily, in the film. Her research led her to Alfred Kinsey as the impetus for the sexual revolution, and she now works to expose what she sees as both his shoddy and perverse research and the damage done by his influence.\
Another expert, psychiatrist Richard Fitzgibbons, also offers insight which is both professional and personal. An experienced family therapist, he was baffled at the increase in young patients who were narcissistic and desperately lonely, suffering great emotional pain. Fitzgibbons found a common thread: His patients all sought “a temporary lift of spirits” through pornography. “It’s the temptation of the lonely,” he says in the documentary, but these young people “have no idea how to have a friendship.”
You can see a trailer at Anteroom Pictures. On the same page are links to the The Pink Cross Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization that reaches out to adult industry workers to offer healing from porn and The Porn Effect.
established to expose the reality of porn for what it is; a weak and whimpering counterfeit of love which is emasculating men, degrading women and destroying marriages.
Dustin Farrell has made astonishingly beautiful time-lapse videos of the American West that you must see. I can not embed them.
You can see Landscapes Volume Two on Vimeo here and learn how he did them.
I found out about him from this article in the Daily Mail Astonishing photographs in time-lapse video which capture the American landscapes as you've never seen them before
His Twitter followers described the photographs as 'breathtaking', 'spectacular' and 'stunning'. One wrote: 'Name your superlative. Just brilliant.'
I love movies and for years would see 2 or 3 a week. When Netflix first appeared I was ecstatic because I could see all the movies that I had missed over the years.
But these days there are fewer and fewer movies I even want to see. Somehow movies today don't move me. They just don't matter. I couldn't put my finger on it but John Podhoretz did in Say, What?
Movies make plenty of noise, but don’t speak to us.
audiences no longer engage with them as they once did. They do not expect to be drawn in—and they aren’t. The movies they have been trained to attend for decades are contrivances, amusement park rides, seemingly designed to be disposable, forgettable, pointless.
David Clemens follows on Colleges' Lost Love of Film
Movies used to matter a great deal, as did film criticism; films were anticipated events (a new Fellini!) and they established cultural milestones (2001: A Space Odyssey); films found and shaped the zeitgeist (La Dolce Vita, Blow-Up, The Graduate). Critical responses, too, were eagerly awaited. I learned more about close analysis and criticism from reading Pauline Kael, John Simon, and Stanley Kauffmann than I ever learned in grad school English.
Why even mention box office bonanzas such as Titanic, Mama Mia, Sex and the City, Avatar? Nothing but soap opera and melodrama.
Instead of offering joy, suffering, passion, or anything else remotely human, academics and universities first embalm, then inter, the arts whose beating heart should afford students a personal awakening to what Kauffman calls “the increments of their cultural life.”
Academicizing produces cataloguers, historians, theorists, careerists, and docents. In such a climate, can film art in college be saved or is the visual future just YouTube and TEDTalks? Andrew, a former student, told me that after watching Au Hasard Balthazar, he was so moved that he was unable to speak for two days. Perhaps his reaction is a key to how higher education might better approach all the arts: select for the humane and aesthetic, in film, in books, in painting. Set aside theorizing, historicizing and deconstructing, those three offensives in the academy’s war against beauty and transcendence. Return to film viewing as an experience rather than an occasion for didacticism. When using film, just let students watch and absorb.
From the New York Times, A Director's Many Battles to Make Her Movie
Sonia Nassery Cole knew that shooting a movie on location in Afghanistan could get her killed. The most vivid reminder came a few weeks before filming, she said, when militants located her leading actress and cut off both of her feet.
But Ms. Cole, an Afghan expatriate with a flair for the dramatic and a history of not taking no for an answer, had her mind made up. Unable to find another actress to take the part — the film is overtly critical of the Taliban — Ms. Cole, 45, decided to play the role herself.
“Come hell, come shine, I was going to make this movie,” said Ms. Cole, a novice filmmaker whose primary job is running the Afghanistan World Foundation, a charity focused on refugees and women’s rights.
Before the film wrapped production last fall in Kabul, Ms. Cole survived a bomb blast that shattered the windows of her hotel, machine gun fire and grim telephone threats warning her to go home.
Three senior crew members — her cinematographer, a producer and a set designer — did just that, abandoning Ms. Cole in the middle of production.
“I know I broke her heart,” said Keith Smith, the cinematographer who left. “But I could feel death. I didn’t sign up for that.”
The movie she made is The Black Tulip, a tragic love story that will premier in Kabul this Thursday before it's off to the Sundance Film Festival.
The Times has a slideshow with some scenes from a movie I'm not going to miss. Courage like hers must be supported.
Normally, I see a lot of movies in the summer, but this year, there are so few I even want to see that I have to agree with Joe Queenan who calls it The Worst Movie Year Ever.
But it's been a boom year for movie reviewers with snark as the accompanying graphic to the piece shows.
Barbara Nicolsi blames the boomers
As cultural power brokers, the Boomers have stamped their downward spiral from stoned rebels to cynical whiners on many aspects of Hollywood's once great storytelling voice. Greedy for the power and control they have lusted for since they came of age, the Boomers created the factory model of blockbuster movies in which the pursuit of mega-dollars eliminated creative story choices again and again. They bequeath to an age desperately in need of hope and heroes, a storytelling industry that is shattered to its core in having forgotten how to weave a good tale. For decades Hollywood had the whole world sitting on its lap. The Boomer elites squandered that global audience in their one lifetime.
First is the effect on the gargantuan Boomer generation of a lifetime of listening to their own voices. The movies being created by and for the Boomers today are a very unentertaining mix of "Never regret! Life starts at 70!" and "Life is a cruel joke, ‘full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.'" Movies like It's Complicated showcase a bunch of grey hairs still acting badly, swallowing their shame and ignoring their appropriate role as the wise mentors of the younger generations. The Dorian Greyish dark echo of this kind of story are movies like There Will Be Blood and the chillingly titled No Country for Old Men, in which the characters' lives of narcissism and greed devolve into cynicism and brutality.
If they would be saved, the Boomer Generation must be guided into repentance for the way they self-righteously sacrificed all others as they fled from the simple heroism of adult human life. The rigid eradication of tradition, the gross materialism, the unbridled license, the embarrassing promiscuity -- all always accompanied by shrill distortion and denial -- have left our society disconnected, bloated, poorly educated, unable to trust and simmering in resentment. If the Boomers don't begin to admit to the rest of us where they went wrong, we all risk losing any of the positive achievements the generation has contributed to human history. I see many of my Millennial Generation students clamoring to set back the clock to a day before the Sixties, when there were grown-ups.
In tune with the apocalyptic mood of our times, here's a new archeological find in Saudi Arabia that threatens to change the dynamics in the Mid East with consequences no one can imagine.
It may be the biggest archaeological discovery to date, but it is also the most dangerous
A quick look at what has been found easily explains all the fuss. Dr. Moller points out that the site at Nuweiba he identifies as the Red Sea crossing point has an underwater land bridge, upon which damaged  chariot parts and bones remain, engulfed in coral. The top of Jabal al-Lawz, the alleged real Mt. Sinai, is black , as if burned from the sky as described in Exodus 19:18, where it says “the Lord descended upon it in fire.” This feature sets it apart from all the other surrounding mountains which do not have darkened tops. The BASE Institute’s film shows Cornuke, who snuck onto the mountain, examining the rocks he cracked, observing that they are not merely black rocks and that only the outside had become darkened by whatever had occurred at the site. Moller has a photo of one of these rocks, which he identifies as “obsidian or volcanic glass, a mineral formed at high temperatures.”
Is Jabal al-Lawz the real Mt. Sinai where Moses encountered God?
One of the greatest — and most doubted — miracles of the Exodus is the story about God instructing Moses to hit a large rock with his rod, which resulted in a flow of water for the Hebrews to drink from. Near Jabal al-Lawz is a large rock, standing about 60 feet high, split  down the middle. The edges of the split and the rock underneath it have become smooth, as if a stream of water had poured forth from the rock, creating a river. Given the annual rainfall in Saudi Arabia and the fact that the erosion is only present on that rock and no other ones in the surrounding area, it’s hard to find a plausible explanation for this remarkable find.
Is this the rock Moses struck to bring forth water in the desert?
I'm certainly going to keep my eye out the new documentary, The Exodus Conspiracy .