Remembering the Unimaginable

A Metopolis article about a symposium that examines how architects understand memorials. The symposium was called “Remembering the Unimaginable: Berlin and New York”  and the participants were involved in planning and buildings the memorial for the murdered jews of Europe in Berlin, and the memorial to the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attack in NY

Reflectabmodel1 “He differentiated the two memorials by noting Eisenman’s is purely commemorative, while Arad’s is commemorative and regenerative. Eisenman’s task, Young explained, was not to respond to the arguably ineffable Holocaust, but rather articulate its horror. By identifying with that horror, the monument could memorialize its victims.

In contrast, Arad’s job, slightly easier in the realm of architectural representation, was to mark a very specific loss and suggest a type of renewal. While the young architect’s design approached the former issue well, said Young, the regenerative aspects were largely the responsibility of the memorial’s co-designer, landscape architect Peter Walker.”

Comet’s huge plume hides crater

From BBC News:Comet

Nasa’s Deep Impact spacecraft may have missed its chance to see the crater made in Comet Tempel 1 because of the large plume of material kicked out. Seeing the crater was a key objective of the mission – scientists hoped the impact depression would tell them more about the structure of the comet. But the team can use indirect methods to estimate the crater’s dimensions. A 370kg “impactor” released into Tempel 1’s path by the flyby spacecraft crashed into the comet on Monday.

More here.

Artists and scientists conspire at conference

Philip Ball in Nature:

“We must do this more often” was the constant refrain at a gathering of scientists, artists, film makers, designers, writers, editors and art historians at a meeting in Los Angeles. They were there to explore the use of images in science, for both understanding data and communicating it to others.

Image and Meaning 2, held from 23 to 25 June at the Getty art museum, was the successor to the first conference of this sort, staged in 2001 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston.

The conference series is the brainchild of Felice Frankel, a science photographer working at MIT. Frankel helps scientists present their work using imagery that is both informative and striking. Her photographs have graced many covers of Nature and Science.

Frankel convened the meeting because, she says, “we have a serious problem. There is an assumption that in science our graphics communicate. But they often don’t.” Frankel argues that many scientists don’t see imagery as an integral part of the scientific process. This, she says, is doing the community a disservice.

More here.

Can Mukhtar Mai Obtain Justice?

Leena Khan in Ego Magazine:

Mukhtarmai_main2Women’s legal and social status in Pakistan have had a turbulent history. From honor killings to acid throwing to gang rapes, women in Pakistan have had to pay with their lives and bodies for alleged crimes violating their family or tribe’s so-called honor. To make matters worse, successive governments in Pakistan have consistently turned a blind eye to harrowing atrocities committed upon women.

Some of the most disastrous consequences for women’s rights began to unfold during the aftermath of the military dictatorship of General Zia ul-Haq. In 1977, General Zia led a military coup and overthrew the elected government of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. The years which followed witnessed a series of laws known as the Hudood Ordinances that gave legal sanction to women’s subordinate status. With the Hudood Ordinances, General Zia led a large-scale effort to Islamicize the country, promising to return Pakistan to the “moral purity of early Islam.” The appropriation of conservative Islamic laws and policies meant increased social control of women. The Hudood Ordinances introduced a number of discriminatory laws, and most significantly equated laws pertaining to rape and adultery. The law provided that in order for a woman to prove she was raped, she would have to produce four males of impeccable character who witnessed the act of penetration. The testimony of women and non-Muslims would be considered worthless. If she could not produce the requirement of four male witnesses, she would be guilty of having committed zina, or adultery, an act punishable by stoning.

More here.  [Thanks to Amera Raza.]

Iran election comments

John Ballard at HootsBuddy’s Place:

Last week’s election in Iran has put into prominence one Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (also transliterated Ahmadi Nezhad) with a large margin defeating ex-president Hashemi Rafsanjani. Already the eyes of American readers are glazing over and looking around the room. Time to change the subject. Too much to take in.

I apologize, reader. This is one of those tedious posts about yet another obscure subject that you may not care to know about. Not care, that is, until the penny drops and you realize that as we slept smart people in high places were spinning the news, reporting only what we needed to hear, and planning how best to fit Iran into a plan for that part of the world as counterproductive as our current adventures in Iraq.

More here.

Writing for Bollywood

Timeri N Murari in Nth Position:

The disadvantage of living away from India too long was that I’d not kept an eye on Indian television serials nor heard of Mr Sanjay Khan. So when his office called and announced that Mr Khan wished to speak to me, I was uncertain who he was. He came on the line, a friendly, forceful voice telling me he’d read my novel Taj – a story of mughal India, loved it and wanted to discuss a television serial. Could I come up to Bombay to meet him? As Taj had been published in the UK back in 1985, was a best seller and translated into 10 languages his call was a surprise. (Since then Penguin India reissued the novel in 2004 and it became a best seller again). Of course, I checked out who he was – the producer/actor of the Tippu tele serial, the fire that broke out in the Mysore studios and his near-death experience. In other words, he had a track record though I’d never seen his work. But friends spoke highly of his serials, all made for Doordhasan (DD), the government controlled television channel many years ago when DD was the only television channel on the subcontinent, and you had no alternative.

A Mercedes met me at Bombay airport and whisked me to his Juhu office, Silver Beach…

More here.

A connection between “TheFacebook ” and the CIA?

Josh Smith of The Color of Infinity says to me in an email:

I’m not sure how much something like this would interest you guys at 3quarks, but here it is anyway. It’s a sort of unintended expose that was a result of stumbling over some interesting things about, its venture capital, shady privacy policy, and its connections with DoD’s Total Information Awareness program. You can read it all here at my blog if you want. I know that everyone that I’m friends with is extremely concerned about this, and we all feel kind of like fish out of water in figuring out what to do with it. Hopefully you can give us a hand in figuring where to go from here.

On his own blog, Josh writes:, created in February of 2004 by 21 year old Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg, is a student social network now active at more than 800 campuses, with more than 2.8 million registered users. [1] Among its features, TheFacebook allows a user to upload a picture of themselves and can include information about their favorite music, books, movies, their address, phone number, e-mail, clubs, jobs, educational history, and even political affiliations. Facebook is extremely popular, attracting on average 80 percent of a school’s undergraduate population. However, there are some questions raised regarding privacy concerns on the site, and when some digging is done to find out who is really behind the site’s management, there are more questions than answers.

The first venture capital money to come into TheFacebook, $500,000 worth, came from venture capitalist Peter Thiel, founder and former CEO of Paypal. [1] A Stanford graduate and former columnist for the Wall Street Journal, Thiel is author of the book “The Diversity Myth,” [2] which received praises from notable neo-conservatives such as William Kristol. [3] In fact, Thiel is on the board of the radical conservative group VanguardPAC. [4]

Further funding came in the form of $12.7 million from venture capital firm Accel Partners. Accel’s manager James Breyer was former chair of the National Venture Capital Association (NVAC). [1] Breyer served on NVAC’s board with Gilman Louie, CEO of In-Q-Tel, [5] a venture capital firm established by the Central Intelligence Agency in 1999. [6] This firm works in various aspects of information technology and intelligence, including most notably “nurturing data mining technologies.”

More here.  If you have more info, please leave a comment.

Writing About Boxes

Mel Bochner writing about the new publication of Donald Judd’s collected writing.

For my generation, Judd posed the same problem as Picasso did for the Abstract Expressionists; you either had to go over, under, around, or through him. Conceptual, process, and Earth art, each in their own way, constituted a rejection of the “specific object.”

The importance of Judd’s sculpture is clear, but can his writings still be useful to a new generation of artists? I believe the answer is yes, but only if their republication provokes younger artists to initiate the kind of vigorous public conversation that is so conspicuously missing from the art world today.

Eco and the Funnymen

From The Village Voice:

Eco Novelist Umberto Eco talks about Homer, the Internet, comic books—and ladies’ shoes: In the Eco-ian universe, books aren’t merely stand-alone islands to be traversed in linear fashion; they are nodes in an exponentially expanding extranet. To read one book, you sometimes have to pass through several others, accumulating countless references and subtexts along the way. “We’ve been reading books in a hypertextual way ever since Homer,” Eco says. “We read a page and then we jump, especially when we’re rereading it. Think of the Bible. When people read it, they’re always jumping here and there, constantly connecting various quotations.”

More here.

Identical Twins Exhibit Differences in Gene Expression

From Scientific American:Twins

At first glance identical twins seem, well, identical. In fact many of these sibling pairs show minor physical variations and differences in characteristics such as susceptibility to disease. Just what causes these dissimilarities is unclear. But a new report further suggests that epigenetic factors–that is, differences in how the genome is expressed–could responsible.  Environmental factors, including smoking habits, physical activity levels and diet, can influence epigenetic patterns and may help explain how the same genotype can be translated in different ways, the scientists say. 

More here.

Straussian Spouts Off

The one-of-a-kind Stanley Rosen, Strauss student and Platonist of sorts, in an interview at Diotima.

BAI: So, somehow, the idea of the philosopher-king is a serious political proposal?

ROSEN: It’s a serious political proposal as a model. You want philosophers to be kings, not physicists, not mathematicians, not economists, but philosophers in the Platonic sense of the term. You want them to be kings. If it’s impossible to have that, then we at least want intelligent people with good practical common sense, who are compromised, but nevertheless, much better than completely ignorant people. The question of the status of the virtues in Plato is very difficult. Plato finally holds that virtue is knowledge, which means that the only genuine virtue is wisdom. And that means, as he says in the Republic that temperance, justice, and other virtues are demotic virtues, vulgar virtues, and the true virtue is knowledge, in other words, wisdom, sophia. The true virtue is wisdom. The situation is quite different in Aristotle, where you have ethical virtue. In Plato, justice is based upon knowing what belongs to each person; ultimately for him knowledge is accessible to the wise man. So, Confucius’ emphasis upon nobility and virtue is probably somewhat more Aristotelian than Platonist. Aristotle is much more sensible than Plato.

Ideas Suck

I actually deeply disagree with the following analysis from Jonathan Chait at TNR. Still, in the name of intellectual debate I forward it on to you. And hey, it’s provocative.

The notion that conservatives are winning politically because they are winning intellectually has a certain appeal, particularly for those in the political idea business. And the aspiration of liberals to sharpen their thinking is perfectly worthy. As analysis, though, it’s all deeply misguided. The current ubiquity of such thinking owes itself to the fact that liberals and conservatives have a shared interest in promoting it. (Liberals in the spirit of exhortation and internal reform, conservatives in the spirit of self-congratulation.) But, more than that, it reflects a naïveté about the power of new ideas, one that is deeply rooted in long-standing misconceptions of how our politics operate.

What To The Slave is the 4th of July?

I have been meaning for some time to direct interested parties who don’t already know about it to a great site called Wood’s Lot. It seems to be Canadian, and posts amazingly good links to and excerpts from articles, poems, and art. I don’t think there are permalinks, and WL does not comment but only quotes, the WL archive forming a kind of Commonplace Book of fine passages and food for thought, but have a look at the current main page for a passage from and link to a classic and timely Frederick Douglass essay, “What To The Slave Is the 4th of July?”

The raw-food diet

From The Independent:

Meloned050705_102522a_1 There was a time when only hippies and health fanatics would consider living on raw food. No more. A raw-food revolution is under way – and celebs are leading the way. Uma Thurman, Natalie Portman and Alicia Silverstone have all been eating uncooked food in the name of optimum health. Woody Harrelson went so far as to publish a 400-page tome on Living Cuisine. But then, the beautiful people, I suspect, were beautiful and shiny haired before they gave up ovens. What could raw foods do for me? I decided to give my oven a rest for a week, to see if I can catch any symptoms of glamour and gorgeousness. 

One week later…

My blood pressure is up to 110/70 but this is probably just because I have been rushing around in the heat. But I have lost weight. Two kilos, which is five pounds, which is almost half a stone. In just one week. No sign of celebrity gorgeousness yet, but maybe that will come. Perhaps raw is the way forward.

More here.