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Apologies for absence

By Lorenzo

The combination of the Melbourne heatwave, being very busy at work (having to get up a 5.30am in the morning to beat the traffic then doing a full day’s presentation teaching takes it out of me) and an obsessive writing project have meant I have not been around much.  Apologies for that. When I have been, it has mainly to fill the spam bin.  In the war between spammers and spam-blockers, the spammers are clearly currently ahead. Apparently, praising one’s format/choice of blogging platform/blogging content is part of the successful spammer’s armoury.

lincoln_1

I did manage to get to see Lincoln, which I enjoyed immensely. Intelligent films about politics, such as this Daniel Day Lewis vehicle, is a form of cinematic crafting that I particularly enjoy. At least one professor of American history has announced he is going to use it as a teaching aid, which seems entirely reasonable.

Lincoln manages to be at once uplifting about the possibilities of politics and wryly cynical about its processes. The Thirteenth Amendment is portrayed as being (narrowly) passed by a mixture of base political manouevring, blatant use of the patronage powers of the Presidency and simple persuasion. (I was also amused that Hollywood did a movie where the Republicans were the good guys and Democrats the bad guys.) Democracy as government by discussion is well on display.

But even the most blatant vote-buying displayed for our cinematic enjoyment is for the noblest of purposes–abolishing slavery, definitively and without evasion. That it was nearly de-railed by another worthy cause–ending the bloodiest war in American history–is also part of the stuff of politics, which is rarely a competition between good and evil but often one between rival goods. (And occasionally one between rival evils; that is the enormous tragedy of the Eastern Front during the Dictators’ War.)

As Legal Eagle recently pointed out, serious blogging is a time-consuming activity. It also takes energy and cognitive effort. Lacking spare amounts of the former and having the latter very focused on a specific writing task has left me little time for blogging. I am hopeful that the onset of the school holidays will see a bit more time for the latter. But writing will (hopefully) being taking up more of my time than it has, so no strong promises are being entered into.

This is also the Saturday chit-chat post.

11 Comments

  1. Mel
    Posted March 23, 2013 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

    “I was also amused that Hollywood did a movie where the Republicans were the good guys and Democrats the bad guys”

    Maybe a film about a gang raped woman who has a spontaneous abortion would appeal to the Republicans.

    Or how about a film about the collapse of western civilisation due to a new supercharged HIV/AIDS spread by homosexual typhoid Marys?

    Or what about Ernie and Bert have a Big Gay Wedding and their adopted son turns out to be Beezlebub as per the Book of Revelations?

    The possibilities are endless …

    Anyway, welcome back. But where is SL?

  2. kvd
    Posted March 24, 2013 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    Extreme heat doesn’t agree with me.

    Now I’m really confused! Never mind. Carry on ;)

  3. Mel
    Posted March 26, 2013 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    LE, I hope you’ve brought some rain back with you. It has been awfully dry in SE Oz these past few months. I’ve lost hundreds of plants. I’m feelin’ lugubrious :(

  4. kvd
    Posted March 26, 2013 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    Mel, to lose one plant may be regarded as misfortune. But to lose ‘hundreds’ has a hint of carelessness about it.

    Copyright: Oscar, my fav celeb gardener :)

  5. kvd
    Posted March 28, 2013 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    Since it’s Easter, and since I’m in need of a jolly good flagellation, I thought I’d throw out into the milling hordes of commenters just waiting to get stuck into something/anything (hello? anyone there?), my condensed 10 Commandments – and invite your ire.

    Actually, I only have one Commandment, but it comes with an equally important preface:

    Preface: Shit happens
    Commandment: Deal With It.

    It seems to me that we humans are ‘blessed’ with one original sin; we are somehow designed to despise randomness. We spend a good proportion of our scientific and philosophical endeavours trying to figure out the whys, the chain of antecedants, the ‘was it my fault’-s – but bugger all on what really would help our future: dealing with it.

    Show me an economist who doesn’t get wet (between the ears) about the causes of Cyprus; I’ll give you double or nothing that he/she hasn’t a foggy about where to from here.

    See the announcement today that science has delineated several dozen genes which might infer a greater risk of cancer; but where’s the feller with the ‘cure’?

    Why does the toast fall buttered side down? Why can’t South Sydney win a premiership? Who the f* is Higgs-Bosun and why can’t I get a decent mobile service?

    I blame God (insert personal preference here) for this: not for the crappy state of affairs, not for events leading up to it; and not for our human ability to endlessly agonise over what-might-have-been-if-only. H/She didn’t give us the basic ability to deal with what is, and to move on.

    So this Easter my thought of the day is “Thanks lots (not), God”.

  6. Adrien
    Posted March 28, 2013 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    “I was also amused that Hollywood did a movie where the Republicans were the good guys and Democrats the bad guys”

    The movie was based in part on one of Obama’s favorite books Team of Rivals by Doris Goodwin. Apparently Spielberg expressed interest in acquiring the rights before she wrote it so perhaps it can’t be relegated to another episode in the love affair the entertainment industry currently engages in with the President.

    I haven’t seen the movie but I’ve been reading the book. There’s an interesting anecdote at the end that takes place in the remote northern Caucasus wherein Leo Tolstoy is asked by a tribal chieftain to regale him with tales of the famous men of history. After running down the lives and accomplishments of the usual suspects ( Caeser, Alexander, Napoleon &c), Tolstoy is asked why he hasn’t mentioned the ‘greatest ruler of the world’ whose name was Lincoln. Tolstoy recalled: “I looked at them and saw their faces all aglow, while their eyes were burning. I saw that those rude barbarians were really interested in a man whose name and deeds had already become a legend.”

    For his tale of Lincoln Tolstoy received an Arabian stallion.

  7. John H.
    Posted March 28, 2013 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

    Show me an economist who doesn’t get wet (between the ears) about the causes of Cyprus; I’ll give you double or nothing that he/she hasn’t a foggy about where to from here.

    It must be economists that inspired this wonderful South Park episode.

    “I was also amused that Hollywood did a movie where the Republicans were the good guys and Democrats the bad guys”

    Nope, sick of the major parties, all shades of silliness now. I read The Plan by the coalition and decided that if such a plan was submitted as a business plan exercise for under graduate business studies course it would receive an F. So I’m voting for this lot.

  8. John H.
    Posted March 28, 2013 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

    See the announcement today that science has delineated several dozen genes which might infer a greater risk of cancer; but where’s the feller with the ‘cure’?

    “In my view,” he said, “cancer is a problem that will be part of human life for a long time, if not forever … and I expect that therapy will be slow to come. Even when new therapeutics schemes come, the plasticity of tumor cells will make it very difficult to effect total cures. For those who hope for rapid progress, this is clearly a pessimistic view.” But, disturbed by his own pessimism, he concluded, “But results will come, and we, as a nation, must maintain our commitment t6o finding everything we can about the disease and to try in every way possible to prevent or cure it. There is, of course, the real possibility that my whole analysis is wrong and that there lie out there magic bullets that will make a huge impact on cancer mortality rates in a relatively short time. To have judged so completely wrong would give me great pleasure.”

    Ahead of the Curve: David Baltimore’s Life in Science, Shane Grotty

    If you think that is pessimistic, you don’t understand the problem. Here’s a clue, NEVER think of cancer in the singular tense, all cancers are different, even cancers from the same tissue are different. A single tumour can contain many cell types.

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