And then... Missy Elliott's appearance with Madonna looks cheerful enough. Rumour has it otherwise.
Yesterday's concert for Toronto headlined the Rolling Stones, featured AC/DC and involved a raft of other performers for a crowd numbering half a million. Reportedly, the otherwise peaceable crowd pelted Justin Timberlake with plastic bottles and bran muffins. Too bad we did not get to see much of it on television.
4:04 Perhaps M3 ought not to have promoted itself as the destination for day-long coverage of the concert. Granted, the channel acknowledged in advance that it would not be permitted to broadcast whole sets, but I've been watching now for four hours and I've seen maybe six minutes of music. In fact, I just got a better sense of the concert by opening the window in my office and listening. And I live in Ottawa.
The Flea is a bit slow on the uptake in these long, hot summer days. I just noticed Marduk is back from his blogging hiatus and his Babylonian Musings have a new home.
These useful neologisms appeared in the Inbox of the Flea...
The Washington Post's Style Invitational once again asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition.
Here are the 2003 winners:
1. Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.
2. Reintarnation: Coming back to life as a hillbilly.
3. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.
4. Foreploy: Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid.
5. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period.
6. Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.
7. Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.
8. Inoculatte: To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.
9. Hipatitis: Terminal coolness.
10. Osteopornosis: A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)
11. Karmageddon: It's like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like a serious bummer.
12. Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.
13. Glibido: All talk and no action.
14. Dopeler effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.
15. Arachnoleptic fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you've accidentally walked through a spider web.
16. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.
17. Caterpallor (n.): The color you turn after finding half a grub in the fruit you're eating.
And the pick of the literature:
18. Ignoranus: A person who's both stupid and an ***hole.
The Georgia was largely a crude, homemade war machine built by Confederate troops and house carpenters. After the famous naval battle between the ironclads USS Monitor and CSS Virginia in 1862, women in Savannah formed a Ladies Gunboat Association and raised a whopping $115,000 to build an armored ship to protect the city.
Little is known about CSS Georgia. False information about its specifications during the war and its scuttling in the face of Sherman's advance mean we know less about the Georgia than other ironclads. Now the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has hired archaeologists to study the wreck.
This is the first in a new, intermittent Flea-feature, Profiles in Archaeology. Today's featured archaeologist is Lara Croft.
Lara Croft, daughter of Lord Henshingly Croft was born in England, February 14th 1967. She was raised to be an aristocrat from birth, and had lived in luxury aloof from the world at large. From the age of 3 Lara began her learning with a private tutor. Lara attended Wimbledon High School for girls at the age of 11. At 16 her parents decided she should broaden her education by studying at Gordonstoun, one of England's most prominent boarding schools. One day Lara came across a copy of National Geographic on the hall table.
The rest is history. Ancient history! (I should have mentioned I am wearing a smoking jacket and sitting in a leather wing chair as I dictate this. Imagine the Flea leaning forward and raising an eyebrow.)
Lady Croft was recently sighted driving at great-speed along the Great Wall. And this despite restrictions on just this sort of enthusiastic behaviour. Gun-play, base-jumping from office buildings and skin-tight suits. Such is the Flea's workaday life in the high-stakes, fast-paced world of archaeology.
Paul Darrow, who played the ruthless anti-hero Avon, is in a consortium that has acquired the rights to the show from the widow of its creator, Terry Nation.
I asked after advertising space at the Blake's 7 revival site and it was out of the Flea's price-range. Vexed again!
Traci Lords has a new album coming out. I caught ten seconds or so of the video for her Missing Persons' cover and it was not enough. Google News and "the internet" as a whole are letting me down on this one. Stay tuned for Lords updates at the Flea.
The British Museum has decided quite sensibly not to loan the Rosetta Stone to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
British Museum officials said: "The trustees do not consent to the loan of what might be called "iconic" objects.
Zahi Hawass, grand poobah of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, has changed his tune, saying the Rosetta Stone:
"should be in Egypt's possession permanently, but I want to be realistic and I don't want to get into a fight with the British Museum".
The Sister of a Flea had comp tickets to last night's Roxy Music reunion performance so off we went. Flea-readers may not be astonished to learn of my teenage interest in goth music and fashion. Bryan Ferry, while not a goth per se, was more than angsty enough to provide... well, inspiration is not the right word... so call it a template.
Fashion-wise, Bryan Ferry and his mummified lounge-lizard legion did not disappoint. The suits reminded me why I suffer the slings and arrows of collegial ridicule as I insist on lecturing in a jacket and tie. Half my students are combined business majors. They are used to their professors' more formal dress and what I think of as an expression of seriousness and respect. In my undergraduate days, I had an anthropology professor who would occasionally lecture in a simple academic robe. Some of my peers thought this was pompous but to me it suggested I might be participating in a tradition which was worth the time and effort.
And then... Yes, that "per se" was for you, Rue!
And then... I knew I forgot something. I meant to point to this discussion of decidely non-angst fashion at Enter Stage Right. Too late to work it in with a clever aside now!
The Flea rattles its ghostly chains in glee to discover the identity of Frank J.'s favourite Bond Girl.
The Flea has a collection of socks which are missing their twin. I imagine a sockish equivalent of the Underpants Gnomes have a stack of single socks in a cave near my home. Lots of small things go missing and, with the exception of neurotic, optimistic gestures like my single-sock collection, I tend not to miss them. My neurotic optimism is founded on the impression that often those things which have gone astray pop-up elsewhere as somebody's free and extra bonus.
Archaeologists excavating the site of a major Roman temple in London have found a sealed box containing a white cream still bearing the fingermarks of the person who last used it, nearly 2,000 years ago.
And then... A Guardian article describes the opening of the box including the wrinkling of noses as the smell hit. The Museum of London has details on the site as a whole through the "Lifting the lid on Roman temples" link. They also have a RealOne news item which shows the opening of the box.
Tim Blair noticed a license-plate which got his readers debating the merits of various Dr. Who companions. Leela is an obvious favourite. I will never forget the time she winged her knife into the helmet-port of one of these Sontaran dudes. The second Romana had an effect on the psyche of a young Flea. My psychic tranquility was disturbed when I learned Lalla Ward had married Richard Dawkins (after her marriage to Tom Baker). Dawkins' "brite" remarks were irritating but he stilled pulled off the ultimate nerd fantasy of marrying a space-babe. Impressive, but even Romana was not the best Dr. Who companion.
Gender equity is a hallmark of my life philosophy and after that last post I remembered something I meant to point to in the weekend edition of the Flea. I present you with this almost-swimwear which makes Michael Phelps more hydrodynamic. The Flea's swimming fashion tends toward a different ideal.
The Flea knows nothing of TechTV or Cat Schwartz who, I gather, is not only a TechTV host but an object of veneration of what I imagine to be TechTV's geek-boy fan-base. Or rather, the Flea now knows rather more about Cat Schwartz than I might ever had expected due to a quirk in the way Photoshop generates preview images (via b3ta). Fair warning to Flea-readers everywhere.
Two questions describe the Flea's life in consultancy to the British government:
"Is the current organisational structure of Historic Scotland appropriate to the delivery of the organisation’s objectives?
"Would a different organisational structure improve the delivery of Historic Scotland’s objectives?
While I had nothing to do with this particular branch of government I recognize the Brazil-stylee bureaucrospeak. It was typical of the Major government and continued cheerfully under Blair's administration. This particular example is drawn from a plan by the Scottish Executive to make private the operation of three hundred historic sites including Stirling and Urquhart castles, Jedburgh Abbey and the Callanish Stones.
And then... I did some poking around for images and now want to go to the Isle of Lewis.
An deanntagach ruadh fàs suas ‘s a’ chagailt bha blàth. Nettles now grow where once the hearth was warm - from the Gaelic song, An Ataireachd Ard.
The last of the City of London's ancient perimeter gates is to return to the capital after more than a century in ignominious exile.
Temple Bar -- an elaborate stone archway complete with spikes for traitors' heads -- will become a feature of a new development near St Paul's Cathedral, just half a mile from its original site.
Aldgate, Bishopsgate and Moorgate are better known historic entrances to Roman Londinium. The Flea used to pass through spectral Temple Bar not knowing it was more than the name for a bit of the Strand. The gate itself has been moldering in an abandoned estate... Its return should make a welcome addition to one of my favourite statues.
Bruce Campbell is a hero of the Flea. I interviewed him as background for a National Post article I wrote a couple years ago. I have been thinking of getting the whole interview transcribed (about 40 minutes or so) and running it in Saturday installments...
In the meantime, Bubba Ho-Tep is finally here.
Based on the Bram Stoker Award nominee short story by acclaimed author Joe R. Lansdale, Bubba Ho-tep tells the “true” story of what really did become of Elvis Presley. We find Elvis(Bruce Campbell) as an elderly resident in an East Texas rest home, who switched identities with an Elvis impersonator years before his “death”, then missed his chance to switch back. Elvis teams up with Jack(Ossie Davis), a fellow nursing home resident who thinks that he is actually President John F. Kennedy, and the two valiant old codgers sally forth to battle an evil Egyptian entity who has chosen their long-term care facility as his happy hunting grounds…
The Flea is a horror afficianado and I am ashamed to say Joe R. Lansdale has slipped through my pop-culture filters. He appears to sit somewhere between Flea-favs Christopher Moore and Poppy Z. Brite. I cannot wait for this movie. Ok, now going to watch the trailer over and over.
We laughed, we cried and now we say goodbye to another Week at the Flea™.
Jane Seymour's star still shines bright all these years from that first starring role in Live and Let Die. One week could hardly do justice to a stellar career. Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman is only the most obvious oversight in a constellation of performances (ok, enough with the star metaphor). The Flea grew up with Jane Seymour's contributions to pop-culture and remains a devoted fan.
Who can say what the future holds? One thing is for certain: an autographed photo just as soon as her website accepts PayPal.
And then... How bizarre is this... I am not the only Flea to have a Jane Seymour fixation. The JerkyFlea is some kind of celebrity hairstyle expert. And somebody is keeping a Jane Seymour quote-of-the-week site. My favourite:
"Three words that best describe me: Passionate, kooky and determined."
Sophia Sideshow has identified that which is kryptonite to the Flea... psychic garlic! Vexed again!
I was going to dress this up in something-or-other about my love of cover-versions of popular music or the importance of satire and simulation. I shall instead pose this question of Flea-readers everywhere: this might be funny but could anyone actually find this erotically stimulating?
In the mythical realm of Diddle Earth, diminutive yet delectable Throbbit Bildo Saggins (Misty Mundae) is sent by Smirnoff the Wizard to destroy the legendary G-String - most powerful weapon in the land.
The Flea is mulling over the fall/winter teaching schedule and such details as whether there is a good applied anthropology reader out there or if I shall have to put together a course-kit. The big mystery remains how to structure my "digital media and culture" course. The blogosphere will take centre-stage and I aim to bore them to tears with differences between semantic and analog forms of logic. A course on ethnography and on-line role-playing games suggests an alternative approach. Get them to sign up for Everquest and do on-line field research for a few months! I sometimes wonder how it is I get paid to do what I do.
Jane Seymour looks every bit the frazzled soccer-mom of Caprica in this image.
Can you blame her? Her home-world has been destroyed by reptile-cyborgs and she is now part of a rag-tag fugitive fleet on a lonely quest. More important, she has by now discovered just how wrong a show can go:
A disgruntled Jane Seymour apparently demanded that her character, Serina, be shot dead by a Cylon at the first possible opportunity. Her wish was granted in the fourth episode, leaving fans wishing that her precocious son, Boxey, and his yapping mechanical dog, Muffet (played by a chimp!), had also fallen under Cylon swords.
Amen to that. This pilot had everything: great special effects, a promising story-line and a Mormon sub-text. The Flea will settle for some horrendous sf enjoyment. I remain a fan of Canadian crapfests such as The Starlost or Rocket Robin Hood. And my favourite sf of all time is the wobbly, sarcastic realism of Blake's 7 (the effects on this revival site are better than those of the original series). But Battlestar Galactica did something worse than start out bad. It started out good then disappointed.
This may be why my memories of the show are a bit muddled. I knew Seymour's recurring effect in the psychic development of the Flea as a boy were reinforced by Galactica but I could not remember her appearing in many episodes. Her brief quest for a shining planet known as Earth explains my difficulty in finding images of her as Serina despite her rating a nine-out-of-ten on the Space Babe Hottie Scale. Time to brush up on my trivia.
My favourite part of this wonderfully sensationalist Sun-article about Kristanna Loken is not the voodoo, lesbian sister or skull collecting news. It is the handy height comparison chart showing her sheltering next to the Schwarzenegger man-mountain and towering over the small but perfectly-formed Zellweger.
Alright, some inspirational non-fluff.
The Cutty Sark Tall Ship Race makes me wish I lived on the ocean instead of Lake Ontario. Named for the most famous of China tea-clippers, the race preserves a romantic heritage. The Alexander von Humboldt is particularly triumphant.
That last blog entry was among the more intemperate I have written. I will take off my Quaker Ranting Hat (yes, I mean a literal hat I have for this purpose) and return to my usual fluff in the next post. Perhaps the news of the Great Lewis has raised my puritan ire.
For a better example of the reasoned, cordial discourse the blogosphere is capable of I refer you to Mike Campbell's continuing thoughts on the Bloggish Enlightenment.
I just subjected myself to an hour of CBN news. "Homosexuality" was the topic at hand and their related Operation Supreme Court Freedom initiative to pray for a different Supreme Court. Sneering asides about freedom of expression do not sit well with claims to understand what the framers of the American Constitution had in mind given the prominence of the First Amendment.
What set me to yelling at the television set were their subsequent claims that Satan would come to people in a false guise claiming to speak for salvation. Here is what I have to say to that: their ministry misquotes scripture, picks and chooses from Mosaic law to fit their contemporary prejudices and does so with a hand out for my money. Yet they have the presumption, the temerity, to claim a direct, personal experience of the life and the light is a false supernatural message.
On the contrary. CBN is not only speaking against liberty and for the morality of the Taliban. In their arrogance, pride and greed CBN is speaking against Christ. Yes, I mean that in its most basic, technical sense.
And then... I have spent a couple minutes looking at a purple polar bear and am now feeling calm (purple polar bear courtesy of Abraca-Pocus!). I wonder what Robertson thinks of purple polar bears? He probably thinks they are Satanic too. Hmm. Clearly, not calm enough yet.
Ok, going to go read some William Blake.
God Appears & God is Light
To those poor Souls who dwell in the Night,
But does a Human Form Display
To those who Dwell in Realms of day.
Portsmouth harbour is to undergo a £200 million renovation to accomodate the Royal Navy's projected supercarriers. The overhaul is to include dredging a deeper approach for the carriers which crosses the wreck-site of the Mary Rose.
John Lippiett, chief executive of the Mary Rose Trust, said it would enable them to excavate important parts of the ship which have remained buried since the raising of the hull in 1982. He said: "These are very exciting times indeed for the Mary Rose. This is the most thorough examination by divers of the wreck site since 1982.
Another great ship of has now been found:
WHEN it sank in the ‘graveyard of a thousand ships’, the Great Lewis was the pride of Oliver Cromwell’s fleet. During a mission to recapture a fort near the Irish port of Waterford from Royalist forces in 1645, Cromwell’s flagship was sent to the bottom of the sea by a combination of enemy cannon and the rocky coastline. Now archaeologists believe they have found the wreck and have begun to bring up the first artefacts.
Jane Seymour's film career includes a near forgotten gem.
We've all wanted to see Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, playing chess with a large baboon, right? And that's just one of the many endearing attractions of Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977).
Sinbad was released in 1977, a fact which may have doomed it to obscurity when over-shadowed by the unanticipated success of an art film the Flea happened to see three times that year (both apparently featured Peter Mayhew). Ray Harryhausen's special effects combine with Jane Seymour's memorable navel to produce another moment of great psychic importance in the life of a young Flea.
Turner Classic Movies' discussion of the Seymour Sinbad also reveals her "real" name:
Not only that, she really does play chess with a baboon. For extra trivia points, the baboon's name was Trog.
This is a noble purpose:
A fighter for every other letter in the alphabet. 20 fighters total. 15 down, 5 to go, plus a few surprises.
When his team confronted the patriarch, the prelate said to them: "Here you are, six historians and archaeologists, and you probably never go to church. I could get something like 100,000 pilgrims to sign a petition to support it. You're going to tell me that I'm wrong?'"
"To those of us who have no faith, it's just a chance to see the curiosity of human behavior," Grabar said. "But to people who believe, we're not talking about fun and games."
Archaeology and faith are not mutually contradictory no matter the unswerving orthodoxy which is academic atheism. But this ABC article does a good job high-lighting the major flashpoints of archaeology and politics.
The Flea's education is always advanced by these little blogging projects and Jane Seymour Week at the Flea™ is no exception.
Take the July 1973 issue of Playboy, for example. I realize this is risque stuff for the Flea but the interests of ethnographic and historical thoroughness compel me to discuss this aspect of the Jane Seymour Bond Girl experience. The sheltered and bookish existence of a Flea is such that I might never have known of the connection between that saucy '60s emblem of the "sexual revolution" and the Bond franchise. It is only in retrospect that Bond's playboy philosophy suggests an obvious complementary relationship:
The first Ian Fleming short story, in which the writer introduced Playboy readers to his character James Bond, appeared in the March 1960 issue. Playboy later serialized a new Bond adventure annually, and the magazine has published ten Bond-related pictorials.
A surprising number of celebrities have graced this most venerable of men's magazines (who knew?) not a few of whom appeared in Bond-related special issues. Neither Jane Seymour's Bond Girl debut nor her July 1973 Playboy appearance have hampered her ability to take more serious roles as her career developed. But tomorrow's installment features a most unserious role almost as formative to the life and thought of a Flea as Seymour's Solitaire...
The wonders of "the internet" include an archival capacity undreamt of to those librarians of ancient Alexandria. It is a good thing too. Without the internet, we may have lost Sesame Street's disco oeuvre.
When archaeologists found the 4,300-year-old burial of an archer and metalworker at Amesbury in Wiltshire last year, they knew at once that they were looking at the remains of a great Bronze Age chieftain. The astonishing wealth of the possessions found in his grave declared him a man of power.
British Archaeology magazine takes the Amesbury archer as an exemplory case of the talismanic properties ascribed to possessions by ancient peoples. It would be a mistake to imagine clothing and accessories had lost any of their symbolic, even supernatural power. Take bloggers, for example...
A First Nations community centre near the Lair of the Flea cheerfully welcomes visitors to their home of 30,000 years. The claim may need to be revised alongside dates ascribed to numerous proto-American artifacts in museum display cases across North America.
A new genetic study may provide more reliable figures than have so far been available to archaeologists:
On one side of the argument are researchers who claim America was first populated around 13,000 years ago, toward the end of the last Ice Age. On the other are those who propose a much earlier date for colonisation of the continent - possibly around 30,000-40,000 years ago.
The authors of the latest study reject the latter theory, proposing that humans entered America no earlier than 18,000 years ago.
It is early days for genetic modelling of the kind carried out in this study. The guestimate of the duration assigned to an average male generation is only one statistical gap through which the carts of future study might be driven. Future work of this kind nevertheless suggests more reliable insight into early human migration in the Americas and elsewhere. It may also help us toward a more sensible enforcement of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), a law whose interpretation, often grounded in oral tradition and mythology, has interfered with archaeological research.
Jane Seymour Week at the Flea™ starts with a tribute to her first film appearance. Solitaire is the best Bond Girl ever.
Live and Let Die was also Roger Moore's first Bond and, if not for Moonraker, his best. Voodoo, tarot cards and Jane Seymour were all formative pop-culture influences of this film on an impressionable young Flea.
Flea-favourite Eliza Dushku is to star in Tru Calling on Fox. Tru Calling features Dushku as a graveyard-shift city-morgue worker who each week has to travel twenty-four hours back in time and try to save a life:
But then comes the whole idea of what if you can’t save those people and how is it affecting the other people around if she saves the person who maybe was supposed to die? It comes down to what is someone’s fate and what is someone’s destiny and is she now playing God with these people’s lives? How does she know what direction to go? That’s a really cool story.
It's a wonderful after-life! This sounds awful but I will watch it anyway. The Flea's tru disappointment is that Dushku is starring in this instead of a Buffy spin-off series as Faith. Instead, we are faced with the grim prospect of Harmony appearing as a recurring character on Angel and Eliza Dushku wasted in an occult version of Groundhog Day.
The Immaterial Girl has reportedly gone round the twist (and this coming from a blogger who refers to his secret-identity in the third person):
Pals of Madonna's tell us that the Kabbalah-lovin' singer has instructed her close pals to use her "Jewish" name "Esther" when addressing her. "She is really into it," one friend said.
Elsewhere in London, Victoria Beckham's producer makes the improbable claim he will remake Posh as a rap artist:
New Yorker Damon denied he only decided to work with Posh because of her superstar status in the UK, revealing he had never heard of her before they met. He admitted: “I didn’t know who she was. NAOMI CAMPBELL said I should meet her. She explained who she was.”
And completing this Flea Diva round-up is a much blogged-about Christina Ricci phobia. For those who missed it, she is afraid of house-plants (and, sadly, ghosts):
"They are dirrrty. If I have to touch one, after already being repulsed by the fact that there is a plant indoors, then it just freaks me out."
Funny that. The Flea has different associations with dirrrty-ness.
where figures like Francis Hutcheson and William Robertson were encouraging the kind of broad study that would make modern-day left-wing academics reel.
Campbell coins a term for a much needed new Renaissance: the Bloggish Enlightenment.
Samizdata posts on the grim prospect of a reverse-Enlightenment underway as the whiners pack their bags and make for the Land of the Puppeteers. This may be to the advantage of the UK and the USA but bodes ill for Canada.
The Flea is committed to the interactive experience of "the internet." Tim Blair points to a RealOne recording of Tony Blair's address to Congress available at C-SPAN. His words are days old but his oratory is for the ages.
On our way down here, Senator Frist was kind enough to show me the fireplace where, in 1814, the British had burnt the Congress Library. I know this is, kind of, late, but sorry.
Both make for an educational and improving entertainment for a sunny weekend afternoon. Once you are done you can pop some bubble-wrap.
Everyone remembers the name of Apollo XI commander Neil Armstrong. Many remember Buzz Aldrin's name if only for its super-cool nickname aspect. But how many people know the name of the fellow who drove the orbiter while Armstrong became one of the greatest figures in history and Aldrin became history's other guy?
Michael Collins reminisces:
Look at Neil, doesn't he look gormless? Neil 'Moonface' Armstrong, that's what we used to call him. Can you believe that they let him be in charge? He was so pleased with himself, the power went straight to his stupid round head, in training he was always making us do jobs for him "Michael, can you make me some iced tea?", "Buzz, will you clean my spaceman boots?" If we said no, it would always be the same "Do you want to go to space or not? .. Do you?" What could we do?
Back in the old country we had lots of words for people like Armstrong, "Smug arsehole", "Bogbrain", "Person most likely to lose their kneecaps."
He was childish too. All the way to moon, it was "Buzz, are YOU looking forward to walking on the moon?", and "Michael, YOU can tidy the Colombia Orbiter while WE are on the moon." I tell you, if Buzz hadn't gone down there too, I'd have turned that tincan straight back round and left Moonface down there on his beloved moon. See how long the f***ing moonfaced half-wit would have been taking giant f***ing leaps with no f***ing OXYGEN. The c***.
On the other hand, I have nothing but respect for Buzz. Buzz Aldrin is a handsome man. A man's man.
Rivalries such as this pale in comparison to the prospect of an end to America's manned space program (via Fred Kiesche). Manned spaceflight... the Flea asks readers for a gender-neutral way of expressing the same idea... is one of the few points of disagreement I have with the editorial line of The Economist. A rational calculation of costs and returns in the form of exploration and scientific advancement may weigh against sending people into space. But rational calculations are often grounded on the false premise there is any reason to go into space except as an end in itself.
NPR, noted bastion of flavour-free common sense, questioned the wisdom of manned spaceflight in the wake of the Columbia disaster. Some could not understand the point of the adventure. James Lileks explained:
The rest of the day I listened to the radio. NPR had an interview with one of those people who think we should not send people into space, but rely entirely on robots. As I pulled into the parking lot at the mall he casually asked “what can a man do on Mars that a robot cannot?”
PLANT A F***ING FLAG ON THE PLANET, I shouted at the radio. Pardon my language. But.
"If we have learned anything in graduate school," remarked an old friend of the Flea, "we have learned how to write."
I confess the Flea was slightly tipsy when these words were spoken due to the proximity of an open-bar and the intoxicating effects of good company. Even so, I should also confess an immediate scepticism. Flea-readers used to the lucid prose of an H.D. Miller or a Glenn Reynolds may have a false impression about academic writing.
In recent years leftist academics have been enraptured by Empire, a 500-page anti-globalization book by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, published in 2000. Empire collects all possible criticisms of free trade and wraps them in prose like this: "In the logic of colonialist representations, the construction of a separate colonized other and the segregation of identity and alterity turns out paradoxically to be at once absolute and extremely intimate."
To commit a sentence like that is to subtract from the sum of human knowledge. But it is not really exceptional, and its authors are much admired for their fresh version of leftist "thinking."
Professor Emeritus Ian Hunter believes he can speak freely now he is no longer employed by a university. He reflects on the description of North American universities as "islands of repression in a sea of freedom" and describes university communication as U-Speak.
Which one is which? Let's see... on the one hand we have people protesting spray-painted cows and on the other hand we have the people who spray-paint cows and call it art. Complicating matters is the fact the spray-paint artist appears to also be an animal rights protestor.
The artist, whose real name is unknown, keeps a low profile but his canvasses can fetch more than £10,000. He also created Blur's last album cover.
He is known for a series of stunts, including breaking into the elephant enclosure at London Zoo and spraying the words: "I want out. This place is too cold. Keeper smells. Boring, boring, boring."
Building work on the new £10.5 million City and County Museum site in Lincoln has revealed the biggest Roman mosaic found in the city for a century.
The mosaic was unearthed last month during excavations at what will eventually form the goods lift at the new museum site in central Lincoln.
This is a bit of good luck even in a country which is heaving with Roman antiquities. It is also refreshing to learn relics can be discovered in museums outside Baghdad.
The Flea is a Bond fan to the point of making irritable corrections of television game shows mis-identifying Dr. No as the first Bond film. I would be willing to bet nine out of ten Flea-readers know the correct answer to that one...
An anthology of essays commemorating the fiftieth-anniversary of the publication of Casino Royale should be right up my street.
Meticulously described, and greatly entertaining to read, the sheer pleasure-value of Bond's myriad "games" should not allow us to overlook their deadly seriousness. Winning, for Bond, is a necessity, both physically and psychologically. His entire personality and sense of self-esteem are constructed around and depend upon his sense of invincibility. To lose spells complete and irrevocable ruin. . . . 007 provides, in that sense, the literal enactment of Zarathustra's proclamation that "The devotion of the greatest is to encounter risk and danger and play dice with death."
This holds such an uncanny familiarity, or unheimlich (mis)recognition (to get into the spirit of things), they could have been reading the Flea's diary. But this fails to answer the crucial issue of which Bond film was the best.
The answer, of course, is...
... On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Obviously. Yes, it isn't a Connery Bond and we all know they are the best as a group. But I point to Live and Let Die as an excellent Moore Bond even if he is playing it for fun. Timothy Dalton was such a misguided choice I hardly acknowledge they happened and I have enjoyed the Brosnan Bond except for that last-but-one which was about a pipeline and quite boring.
The Lazenby Bond has been badly misunderestimated. He was drinking, smoking and womanizing and was laddish/boorish enough to be the only Bond to admire an issue of Playboy, then considered a chic yet risque publication. Furthermore, OHMSS had the best Bond Girls ever as it featured Joanna Lumley and Diana Rigg. Jane Seymour's Solitaire is, of course, the best Bond Girl ever but she is out-numbered by OHMSS. It is a serious oversight on my part that there has been no Jane Seymour Week at the Flea™.
And then... there is the matter of the first Bond film. A poor choice of words for the Flea! I should have said something more ambiguous along the lines of "Bond's first screen adaptation." Casino Royale was a 1954 CBS television adaptation of the novel. I have never seen it. Despite Flea-hero Peter Lorre's presence as a Bond villain it sounds horrendously misconceived. Jimmy Bond is an American secret agent drinking and gambling with his British opposite number Clarence Leiter.
That is quite enough seriousness for today... Here is a non-serious link to Peter Mayhew, best known for his role as Chewbacca, revealing serious spoilers for the final Star Wars film.
Several years ago I had a peculiar and interesting conversation. I was reminded once again the truths I believe to be self-evident are profoundly non-evident to others. I was speaking with a veritable banshee of a woman: red-headed, a writer and a boxer. Long-time friends know this is a devastating combination on an impressionable Flea.
She was not only a pugilist and a writer but a devout Catholic. It was in the confusion of our profoundly held religious convictions that I learned my lesson. The rocks upon which our potential mutual interest were to founder were about the difference between sex and violence. She had struggled with sex and relationships in her desire to make sense of the way we live now and her commitment to follow the teachings of the Holy See. My Protestantism renders sexuality a non-struggle. I have considered carefully those passages of scripture I consider to be relevant to the issue and reached my own conclusions about how best to govern myself. I have not discussed all my views on sex and sexuality at the Flea largely because the issue is a settled one for me.
Violence is a different question. Where sex is consensual and between adults I do not believe the things other people get up to are any of my business. I can think of few contexts where violence may be said to consensual and I believe the difference imposes different ethical obligations. This blog is, after all, the home of the fighting Quaker and I have used this odd little platform to advocate quite a bit of violence over the last few months. This has troubled me. There are very few points of doctrine among the Society of Friends but pacifism is almost inarguably at the centre of what the Quakers are about. It is a teaching I am forced to disagree with. In fact, it is almost incomprehensible to me that there are those who choose not to fight evil when it presents itself. Evil can be as universal as the one which threatened to consume the world in the 1930s or as specific as a threat to, say, my sister. I would fight both kinds of evil and I believe it would be immoral to ignore either one in favour of a misguided commitment to peace at any price. Dead people are at peace but they may not rest easy while their killers continue to go about their work. Yet I believe I am failing to understand a truth which has been revealed to the Quakers. Perhaps I have not worked hard enough or devoted enough time in contemplation for that truth to be revealed to me.
My pugilist acquaintance had no such qualms. She claimed to study boxing for two reasons. First, if anyone attempted to rape her she could defend herself from her attacker by hitting him very hard thereby causing him to fall down. Second, astonishingly, by doing so she would not only have protected herself from harm but have prevented him from committing a mortal sin. This ass-kicking theology helped to clarify a point about the ways in which we can judge our actions to be good and to underline the utterly foreign character of the processes by which other people do so. I am still impressed at the idea of her anticipatory, redemptive violence. She took my breath away. Wow.
I am not so certain of the effects of violence on the souls of those who would do us harm but I share a Protestant conviction about the need to defend liberty by force of arms when necessary. I believe there are many who would shirk the obligation to do violence even when the cost of keeping their hands free of blood means blessing the enslavement of others. It is the shame of Canada that we have allowed our virtue to come before our duty in this time of trial. I can only pray our next Prime Minister is made of sterner stuff.
Babylon is on the brain as I re-read Neuromancer in vague preparation for a course I will be teaching on digital media and culture. Gibson's Zion is a precedent for the rave against the machine presented by Reloaded and I find the solidarity and certainty presented by communities of like-minded people to be somewhat appealing. But given the city or a commune I choose the city every time.
The Flea misses family and friends in London just about every day but missed Toronto's Barsoomian towers as every year went by in England. Both cities are known by the locals as "the big smoke" and both take pride in a multi-ethnic cosmopolitanism. Cities take a hit in romantic utopian politics precisely for the hectic and uncomfortable diversity of opinion the city affords. The blogosphere might offer something comparable... Will we stick to the neighbourhoods of opinion we share or will we take the opportunity to be challenged by ideas which challenge our own?
The spirit of ancient Babel has blessed Flea Towers over the last two weeks. In that spirit I welcome visitors from Sweden, Poland, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, Denmark, Peru, Lebanon, a United Nations server, Costa Rica, Brazil, Lithuania, Switzerland, Austria, Russian Federation, Israel, Portugal, Argentina, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Turkey, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Mexico, Finland, Germany, Singapore, Greece, Belgium, Italy, France, New Zealand, Netherlands, Hungary, United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, the United States and Canada.
Dilek O'Keefe's Consumerism 2 caused a stir at London's Royal Academy when Kylie's legal representatives objected to its use of her assets in the name of art. The painting has now been repainted and the Flea can only rattle its chains in disappointment at the results.
This is the non-simulated hand of Justin Timberlake near Kylie Minogue's noted bottom in what might be construed as a shameless grab for traffic in recovery from Monday's much-appreciated Instalanche.
Some think attractive pop-stars compromise their integrity by shilling for corporations. But the Flea often finds the results appealling. Madonna is to star alongside super-hipster Missy Elliott in a forthcoming ad-campaign for the Gap:
Madonna's such a fan of the Gap that she even allegedly pilfered a poem from a 1993 Gap ad for the track "Sky Fits Heaven" on her 1998 album, Ray of Light. As for why Madonna would want to do commercials for the Gap, publicist Liz Rosenberg replied, "Why not Gap?"
The Flea had missed this bit of Gap-related Madonna minutiae and so cannot resist presenting it here:
"Sky fits heaven, so fly it/
That's what the prophet said to me/
Child fits mother, so hold your baby tight/
That's what my future could see...
Sky fits heaven, so ride it/
Child fits mother, so hold your baby tight/
Lips fit mouth, so kiss them...
The life of a 17th and 18th-century buccaneer was, shockingly, not the happy-go-lucky one represented by theme-park rides or children's films. National Geographic sets the record straight:
The life of a pirate was never as glorious and exciting as depicted in the movies, said David Moore, curator of nautical archaeology at the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort. "Life at sea was hard and dangerous, and interspersed with life-threatening storms or battles. There was no air conditioning, ice for cocktails, or clean sheets aboard the typical pirate ship."
The Flea is no fan of rum or the lash and so had not seriously considered romanticizing the buccaneer lifestyle. Air-conditioning, by contrast, was the single best investment ever made at Flea Gardens. A London-based Samizdatista agrees, going so far as to suggest air-conditioning is a more important invention than the "internet". I could not agree more.
Reloaded fails to satisfy some Matrix fans even after repeated viewings. Bloopers to watch out for may provide passing amusement but a more worrying possibility presents itself: what if this new Matrix is only a simulation of the original film? What if we are living in a vast machine-generated hallucination which dooms us to repeat the late '90s over and over again? I mean, think about it... Could a machine understand the enjoyment we felt in the first Matrix? Or was it just guessing, just giving us a hollow copy in place of the real thing?
George Mason University professor Robin Hanson writes on How To Live In A Simulation (via GeekPress). He is more concerned with the ethical, rather than aesthetic, consequences of the possibility we are all simulated Matrix-fans so does not provide us with specific hope for the third iteration of the Matrix series.
Defence company BAE Systems has warned the British government that it cannot build two new aircraft carriers to budget based on the current designs, the Financial Times reported on Monday. Britain's biggest defence contractor has told the Ministry of Defence that it would cost up to four billion pounds (5.8 billion euros, 6.5 billion dollars) to construct the ships, compared with an estimate of 2.8 billion pounds made in January, the paper said.
A moving testimony is a reminder of the debt owed by the American people to those who fought to defend their liberty (via Misha). It is a debt owed by all free peoples. We all owe that same debt to the Royal Navy. A world with two British supercarriers is a world where the United States does not have to carry the entire burden of defending freedom. Let us pray for the continuing wisdom of Prime Minister Blair's government in this matter.
Have you ever wondered what the world's hengiest biscuit is?
The secret of the ancients is now revealed (via b3ta). This sort of archaeology and edutainment opportunity sets the Flea's spectral antennae aquiver. Canadian Flea-readers will be familiar with inukshuk, a haunting form sculpture native to northern Canada. Toronto built a rather large inukshuk to commemorate last year's Papal visit.
Now it is time show our pride in ancient monumental biscuit architecture of North America by building our own cookinukshuks! Let the Flea know how your archaeological work proceeds and I can display the results as part of my educational efforts. Now to find a digital camera...
The remains of Sagalassos were largely passed over by science as attention was drawn to Ephesos and Pergamon. But Sagalassos was as famous in the world world of the nineteenth-century as it was in the ancient one:
In 1706, Paul Lucas, traveling in southwest Turkey on a mission for the court of Louis XIV, came upon the mountaintop ruins of Sagalassos. The first Westerner to see the site, Lucas wrote that he seemed to be confronted with remains of several cities inhabited by fairies. Later, during the mid-nineteenth century, William Hamilton described it as the best preserved ancient city he had ever seen.
An Archaeology Interactive Dig features recent work at the site.
After reading so many opinions about its plot, I was convinced that I missed something when I first saw it. So, I watched it again. And again. And again.
The Flea's chores include writing a review of Taking the Red Pill, a collection of essays on The Matrix. One essay quotes Marshall McLuhan to the effect that meat is a distraction for the watchdog of the mind. Which is to say the medium in which the Wachowski Brothers are telling their story effects its content... Basically, I figure the first film was made such that it could stand on its own. Reloaded, by contrast, is actually the first half of a second film which has been broken into two parts. I don't think we will know if Reloaded was any good (no matter how many times I too have seen it) until Revolutions comes out later this year.
Flea readers requested... nay... demanded an answer to a haunting question regarding Sci Fi Channel's forthcoming Battlestar Galactica mini-series: who could replace Lorne Greene's portrayal of Commander Adama? Who has the authority, the sheer gravitas, to step into his shoes?
The name Edward James Olmos is obvious in retrospect. iMagnifico! This actor, director and community activist commands credibility amongst fans which could only come from classics such as Blade Runner and Miami Vice. Miami Vice, oh yes.
ReBattlestar is inspired by the original series but is not a remake. Producers cannot be happy with the new Commander's assessment:
"I know the Sci Fi wants to say that everyone's going to like it," Olmos said. But in the case of longtime fans, "They're not."
And then... More ReBattlestar goodness can be found at this earlier Flea report.
A flotilla of rubber duckies is expected to make landful in New England:
The toys have been adrift since 29,000 of them fell from a storm-tossed container ship en route from China to Seattle, Washington, more than 11 years ago.
Beachcombers' Alert! explains how Atlantic coast Flea-readers can participate in the scientific process by keeping a weather-eye open for the beavers, turtles and frogs which made a great escape along with the duckies.
Provinicial Courts of Appeal in Ontario and British Columbia have made gay marriage a social fact. These are not the improvised civil unions of the Netherlands, Belgium or those proposed under forthcoming British legislation but marriages performed under the same Act which regulates unions between men and women. Financial and property issues for gay couples in the event of divorce, however, do not as yet reflect the same equality before the law.
American couples thinking of coming to Ontario should take another factor into consideration. They can marry as soon as they cross the border but divorce in Ontario requires one year's residence. This may be a moot point given an irony rendering gay marriage reactionary in comparison to its ostensibly more traditional counterpart... Ontario statutes which regulate divorce may still specify unions between women and men. If so, gay divorce is not yet legal.
Some think Johnny Depp's Jack Swann was a bit over-the-top. True, but his character called for it and he quite piratically steals the show. Criticism of films like Pirates of the Caribbean mirrors that of Harry Potter. These stick-in-the-mud artsy-types are forgetting something obvious: this is a children's movie.
This is only the first in a series of films based on Magic Kingdom rides. And there was only one Disney World attraction which was better than Pirates in the opinion of the Flea as a boy... The Flea and an adorable Flea-reader noticed a trailer leading the way into Pirates.
MTV offers a fresh look at one of the coolest superheroes ever to climb into a pair of tights.
Hmm. Time for Kirsten Dunst Week at the Flea™. Sam Raimi's film should be credited with reinvigorating the friendly neighbourhood legend and inspiring the new series. The animation looks stunning and is backed-up by an evocative techno-theme. Peter Parker was an inspiration for the young Flea in so many ways. I am happy to see this new Spiderman is not only a remake of the camp '60s original but a fresh interpretation of the myth.
Speaking of myths: the Chaos Overlord believes he has proof Superman could take Batman in a fight. This is not over Chaos Overlord! Oh no, this is not over.
ARTICLE I: You do not have the right to a new car, big screen TV or any other form of wealth. More power to you if you can legally acquire them, but no one is guaranteeing anything.
ARTICLE II: You do not have the right to never be offended. This country is based on freedom, and that means freedom for everyone -- not just you! You may leave the room, turn the channel, express a different opinion, etc., but the world is full of idiots, and probably always will be ... and like the rest of us you need to simply deal with it.
ARTICLE III: You do not have the right to be free from harm. If you stick a screwdriver in your eye, learn to be more careful; do not expect the tool manufacturer to make you and all your relatives independently wealthy.
The animal, a male caprid, possibly an ibex, is depicted in ancient carvings thought to be the first example of Ice Age art ever discovered in Britain.
The image has a strong resemblence to the famous Lascaux cave-paintings in what is now southern France. It is unusual primarily for having been found much further north than comparable artwork of the same period. Creswell Crags, about 150m north of London, is a system of limestone caves inhabited from 50,000 to 10,000 years ago during the last ice age.
It is doom and gloom in Reuters reporting on the new Charlie's Angels film. The $38m opening weekend is $2m short of the debut film and this is supposed to be the source of some anxiety. Do not listen to Reuters in this as in so much else! The original series may never be matched but this latest effort is a tribute to its lasting appeal.
Man! Four hot chicks fighting and dressed all sexy, all the time? What more could we ever want? There's explosions, crime and sex. This movie's awesome.
But the Flea must be fair to Reuters. FOXNews had unhappy things to say and some are not happy with any sequels on offer. ReWeek at the Flea™ makes my enthusiasm for sequels obvious. "Mining the '70s" for ideas is the filmic equivalent of cover albums. Gen-X irony is satisfied and, with luck, tuned-out in favour of childish fun. The pumped up Angels sequel is sure to make money whatever the expectations of cheerless, dead-tree media hacks. This may be why Richard Wagner wants half the profits (including some tasty merchandising).
And to go anywhere that I please.
A cunning linguist believes he has spotted a hole in the plot of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. The Ring needs to be taken to Mount Doom... why not ask the Eagles to fly the Ring Bearer to his destination? A variety of objections to this simple point are dismissed one by one. This is a plot-hole which might readily be addressed by minor explication at the Council of Elrond. Something simple like "the Ring is too loathesome for the Eagles to bear" works for me.
But I believe this argument misses the more important place of the Eagles as a trope in Tolkien's fiction. Tolkien repeatedly rejects the idea the LOTR is an allegory for WWII. But Tolkien was opposed to allegory as such even as he enthusiastically mythologized the world as a religious act. I believe this difference leaves plenty of room for Tolkien to tell stories which reflected the world as he found it including the great political upheavals of his times. Let's see: who arrives late in the day at the Battle of Five Armies? Who again arrives in the nick of time to save the Last Alliance before the Gates of Mordor? Who saves the Free Peoples time and time again? Who on earth might this symbol represent?
He comes down, descending into the world of the pairs of opposites, the field of action. One mode of action is war and the other is peace. So in one of his feet, the eagle holds thirteen arrows. That's the principle of war. In the other he holds a laurel [olive] leaf with thirteen leaves. That is the principle of peaceful conversation. The eagle is looking in the direction of the laurel.
That is the way these idealists who founded our country would wish us to be looking – diplomatic relationships and so forth. But thank God he's got the arrows in the other foot, in case this doesn't work.
I had it all. I was the most popular hair-dresser in Bombey.
This is stylin'. But first: are you of drinking age? Yes. No.
Colby Cosh argues for a mitigating factor provoking the words which caused MSNBC to fire Michael Savage:
It should not be overlooked that the MSNBC personality's career-suicidal Saturday tirade came in response to a caller's apparent attempt to prank the show. Savage wasn't saying "get AIDS and die" to a gay man, as such, and that's a factor that the quickie postmortems probably shouldn't be bypassing.
Cosh quotes the offending words and to me they appear to say say, as such, "get AIDS and die." This may reflect the tone in which the words were spoken. Flea-readers can judge for themselves through a link at the glaad website.
And then... Radar Magazine claims Savage may be hiding aspects of his life which throw his comments into a different, rather more pathetic, light:
I choose to override my desires for men when they swell in me, waiting out the passions like a storm, below decks.
This report would suggest Savage's anger is a projection of his own inability or unwillingness to deal honestly with himself. It is a shame MSNBC should have been complicit not only in propagating Savage's brand of intolerance but in enabling him to avoid being a man and facing facts about himself.
The Flea's spectral antennae quiver in anticipation of the new Lara Croft film. I had wondered about an impressive building which features in trailers for Tomb Raider. It turns out to be the newly built, tallest building in Hong Kong. Two International Finance Centre, or 2IFC, is an impressive 1,362ft in height and took three years to build at a reported cost of US$3b. It is spectacular. This is a building crying out for the movie monster stomp. The Flea has a financial backer in mind.
A. S. Byatt reviews J. K. Rowling's latest Harry Potter. An article decrying Potter fans like the Flea as "childish adults" was going to be met with scepticism. But Byatt has interesting things to say about Freudian notions of the "family romance" and Potter-projection and, more important, shares some cutting thoughts vis a vis cultural studies:
It is the substitution of celebrity for heroism that has fed this phenomenon. And it is the leveling effect of cultural studies, which are as interested in hype and popularity as they are in literary merit, which they don't really believe exists. It's fine to compare the Brontës with bodice-rippers. It's become respectable to read and discuss what Roland Barthes called "consumable" books. There is nothing wrong with this, but it has little to do with the shiver of awe we feel looking through Keats's "magic casements, opening on the foam/Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn."
The Sister of the Flea suggest Rowling is not a great writer but an excellent storyteller. I agree. I believe the two film renditions of the Potter stories have got their genres mixed up in mistaking a series of mysteries for fantasy novels. But this is mystery as a set of conventions about set-piece suspense. Byatt is right to point out the lack of a grander mystery in the Potter books.
Meantime, German children do not have time to read Byatt's critique as they are too busy translating Order of the Phoenix into German. And while Byatt is not convinced by Potter's residence with the Dursley's the market value of their real-world house does not seem to have suffered.
And then... Irate Potter fans... please have mercy on me! I mean no disrespect! I read the new book the first week it was released! Voldemort scares me!
If anyone is looking for a translation of school-motto "Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus" it means "Never Tickle a Sleeping Dragon"... good advice!
James Cameron has reportedly told the BBC he may direct Alien 5:
"We're looking at doing another one," reveals Cameron, who also helmed the 1986 smash Aliens. "Something similiar to what we did with Aliens. A bunch of great characters, and of course Sigourney [Weaver]. I've even discussed the possibility of putting him [Arnold Schwarzenegger] into the Alien movie."
Sigourney Weaver is reported to be interested in the Alien franchise through to Alien 6. Two more Alien films... a return to James Cameron's gung-ho vision... what could be better? Simple: Alien vs. Predator. The film would take its own trajectory away from the video game, comics or novels.
This should not inhibit the true purpose of any such film under any director. Which alien will kick the other's butt? Expect the Aliens and Predators to use the full range of their special alien abilities to hilarious effect. One special bonus would be to see an Alien which had hatched from a Predator as that hybrid beastie would be something fierce. Also, even the original series Enterprise could so take out the Death Star. I mean, ion power is no match against warp drive. Meanwhile Batman would give Superman a beating because Batman would totally have some kryptonite lying around the Batcave.
The British Columbia Court of Appeal lifted a ban on gay marriages. The Court had imposed the ban following an earlier ruling finding BC marriage laws to be unconstitutional in order to allow time for the provincial government to amend legislation. That time was rendered moot following a decision by the Ontario Court of Appeal to allow same-sex marriages to proceed at once.
"It is [apparent] that any further delay in implementing the remedies will result in an unequal application of the law as between Ontario and British Columbia, with same-sex couples being denied the right to marry in B.C. until July 12, 2004, while same-sex couples in Ontario may marry as and when they choose to do so," said Tuesday's judgment.
"In these circumstances, the Court is satisfied that it is appropriate to amend the order in these appeals to lift the suspension of remedies, with the result that the declaratory relief and the reformulation of the common law definition of marriage as 'the lawful union of two persons to the exclusion of all others' will take immediate effect."
Sky News gossip-marm Neil Sean claimed a scoop vis a vis the casting of a forthcoming Captain America for the big screen. Brad Pitt had reportedly signed for the part: "I wanted to make an all-out family movie - something that all ages can go to."
And... wait for it... "And as a child it was my favourite comic."
An astonishing coincidence. We are meant to believe Ben Affleck claimed he would never wear a superhero outfit unless it was for his favourite: the Daredevil. Providence is not always kind, however, and it turns out Sky News had jumped the gun. Ain't It Cool News reports outstanding rights issues which render any forthcoming Captain America film purely hypothetical. Too bad. We could use a hero like Captain America in this time of war. But there is no dotted line to sign hence Brad Pitt has not signed it.
HOWEVER - how on earth they'd pull off the Captain America physique on Brad Pitt without filming the origin story 2 years prior to the main body of production, which would require astonishing weight and mass gain and complete body form type change.... or do the CG or Make Up route...
No more rubber nipples, please. The Flea shares Ain't It Cool News' scepticism about this casting choice. Brad Pitt is prettier than his wife and would have difficulty pulling off the man's man persona needed for the role. This is important given the need to counter-act a lamentable television rendition and Marvel's new idiotarian version of the character. Captain America has to kick ass and take names (even if Wolverine would hand his ass to him in a hat). Bruce Boxleitner would have been a great choice ten years ago. How about Mark Wahlberg? He is plain spoken, has the right build, is not prettier than Jennifer Aniston and has the advantage of not being Matt Damon or George Clooney. Throw in Ed Harris as Nick Fury while we're at it.
This authentic red leather outfit, created by Terminator 3 costume designer April Ferry, was worn by the T-X as played by the stunning Kristanna Loken. This custom-made leather ensemble includes the red pants, mesh bodysuit, matching jacket, and comes complete with Terminatrix-style boots.
Yesterday being July 7, your Friendly Neighbourhood Flea checked for new entries at Paul's Blog only to be disappointed. No new entries since June 23 makes a dull blog. Hope springs eternal at Flea Mansions, however, and so I checked once again for writing from our Prime Minister in waiting. Et voila! July 1 and 2 now merit a mention. July 1 was Canada Day:
This evening, I served spaghetti alongside members of the Italian community. (Mmm.)
The Flea could not agree more. Italians are yummy. And for July 2:
Along with most other Canadians, I jumped to my feet this morning when I heard that Vancouver would host the 2010 winter Olympics. On Tuesday we celebrated our 136th birthday. And today we had our second Canada Day in a row.
Yes, most other Canadians. I have met some of them. But Vancouver bores and irritates me almost as much as the Olympics so the Flea could hardly share in the rejoicing. I could not, however, have managed Paul's Blog's robotic display of enthusiasm had I tried. Paul Martin's erstaz-blog is a remarkable document in that it sums up much of what is wrong with politics in Canada and, I suppose, many other places in the world. This man is going to be our next Prime Minister and appears incapable of expressing convincing, authentic emotion about anything. I am baffled at his farce of a weblog and cannot imagine an audience for it beyond the half-hearted fiskers of Canada. A final note to whoever is writing Paul's Blog: permalinks please.
On May 25, while scanning the Air Force Defense Meteorological Satellite Program images pipelined into his desktop from 450 miles in orbit, Hank Brandli skidded at a nighttime photo of Iraq. It looked familiar. But not exactly.
Vietnam veteran, meteorologist and internet enthusiast with too much time on his hands, Hank Brandli may have noticed something interesting: a new corridor of light heads north from Kuwait to the tasty oilfields of southern Iraq.
"It's going right up to Iraq's oil fields," says the retired Air Force colonel from his home in Palm Bay. "Maybe I'm full of s---. Maybe all they're doing is building a highway to put in McDonald's and sell hamburgers. But why go that way? I think we're in bed with Kuwait. I think we're pumping oil out of Iraq to pay for this war."
This Florida Today article spends a great deal of time assuring us Brandli is not (only) a crank. I can imagine the IndyNazis pointing to this as proof of something or other but if Brandli's supposition is correct it would appear an arrangement has been reached to offset the cost of liberating Iraq by using oil which would have otherwise been used by the former regime to rape, torture and kill. If it were not for the deranged political correctness, sensitivity to others and high emotion quotient of the current American administration such an obvious, sensible measure would be carried out more publicly.
Flea-readers who know how to access recent satellite imagery of the area in question are encouraged to do. My Googling only produced grainy weather images and "recent" images which were months out of date.
Rachel Lucas writes "beware the hacker dudes":
If you have a blog like mine, hosted on a server somewhere by your host company, there's nothing you can do to prevent the hacking itself if they target the server on which your blog happens to be hosted - but at least if your site gets wiped out or otherwise defaced, you'll have backups of all your entries and templates (use the export feature with MovableType for entries and just save your templates as text files), which you can re-upload later.
This may be among the best advice I have ever received. MT's export feature was simple to use and backing up a blog template is excellent advice whatever your blogging tool of choice.
The Flea has always been partial to Marvel by preference to DC. The Marvel multiverse offered conflicted heroism in Spiderman and endearing pomposity in Doctor Strange. Bad guys like Doctor Doom and Galactus were as tragic as they were villanous and their actions, while bad, were grounded in credible psychological motivations. DC superheroes - with the exception of Batman - were two-dimensional in comparison.
That said, I had a soft-spot for Wonder Woman due in large part to her epic television portrayal by Linda Carter. Batman, the Hulk, X-Men and Spiderman. All of these have done well on the big screen. Even Dolph Lundgren's regrettable effort as the Punisher will get a second chance now it has been recast and remade. It is time for a big screen Wonder Woman blockbuster. But who to play the Amazon princess? Sandra Bullock has reportedly turned down the role otherwise she would get the Flea's vote. The only sane choice is Eliza Dushku.
And then... the comments are flying fast and furious. Rue shows true Amazon spirit and has volunteered to do the job herself. Comments at her blog suggest Lucy Lawless for the role and seeing as how Lucy Lawless scares me that is one possible Amazonian qualification.
Flea-readers suggest Eliza Dushku is too girly for the role. "But she is a Slayer!" I mutter to myself in the secret places of my thought. Jennifer Connelly, Angelina Jolie, Jessica Alba and Simmone Jade MacKinnon all rate a mention. I loved Jennifer Connelly in Dark City, i.e. before her Oscar-winning transformation into Skeletor. Angelina Jolie is the hands down winner of the Flea's rigged and made-up forthcoming Archaeology Week at the Flea™ survey so the less said about her the better. Dark Angel's Jessica Alba might merit a Week of Her Own™ but can her butt-kicking match Eliza Dushku's? (No seriously, I missed Dark Angel so I do not know.) This leaves Simmone Jade MacKinnon who wins for best Flash-animation at her personal website. Va va voom! The Flea's well known role as Canadian cultural ambassador to the people of Bulgaria means she comes with the highest possible recommendation.
Each set illustrates a move in the fictional last game played by Napoleon with General Bertrand on St Helena in 1820. In the starting position is the world's only known set designed by Carl Fabergé, specially made in 1905 for Tsar Nicolas II's Commander-in-Chief of the Russo-Japanese War, General Alexei Kouropatkin. Visitors can then follow the game through the porcelain designs of the Lomonosov State Porcelain Factory in Russia in the 1920s – the 'Propaganda' chess set with Capitalists versus Communists – to Marcel Duchamp's Buenos Aires chess set of 1919, and the geometric designs of the Bauhaus set by Josef Hartwig.
British Chess Magazine offers a detailed description of the sets on display while the Guardian has pictures and details of the Chapman brothers' predictably odd set. This Bauhaus set is particularly elegant.
Another perfect headline. The Observer reports an alternative account of the intended original use of Stonehenge:
'There was a concept in Neolithic times of a great goddess or Earth Mother,' says Anthony Perks, a gynaecologist who decided to investigate the idea that the circles could have symbolic anatomical links. 'Stonehenge could represent the opening by which the Earth Mother gave birth to the plants and animals on which ancient people so depended.'
The lack of a convenient cave entrance or opening (other than the new visitor centre) suggests a flaw in Perks' hypothesis. This new age flight of fancy is only so much speculation and suggests rather more about the fixations of contemporary gynaecologists than life in stone-age Britain. Abraham Maslow once observed if the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.
The Trouvadore was a Spanish slaver wrecked near Middle Caicos in 1841. Slavery having been banned in the British empire, its crew were imprisoned while all but one of the slaves on board were to survive and become free:
Archivists and archaeologists say that many of the 20,000 residents of the Turks and Caicos are direct descendants of 193 African men and women who were shipwrecked there more than a century and a half ago.
Archaeologists now hope to find and study the wreck of the Trouvadore to piece together a lost history. The Turks and Caicos islands are also the site of a more recent lost opportunity. The Canadian government of 1987 turned down the people of the islands when they asked to become part of Canada.
Tonight, sixteen years ago residents of the Turks & Caicos came cap in hand asking Ottawa to consider annexing their string of impoverished Caribbean islands. It would have meant an instant tropical vacation destination that was actually part of Canada with Canadian dollars, Mounties and no need to clear customs. The Mulroney government said "no thanks" citing concerns over racial tension and international image. Their final conclusion, there was no economic benefit to Canada.
Flea poll responses are now being tabulated using a made up statistical method guaranteed to produce something interesting for next week. There may be an opportunity for an archaeology tie-in depending on the chicken entrails which are the most reliable augury and true determining factor in the Flea's celebrity interests.
I was surprised at the low response rate relative to the amount of traffic which rolls through the blog. Local reader response was uniform in refusing to participate in polls of any kind due to their ubiquity and the potential nefarious purposes to which a publicly expressed interested in Kylie Minogue might be put. I will answer almost any quiz or poll put in front of me. A side-effect, perhaps, of too much anthropology.
Good thing Glenn Reynolds is on vacation. An Instalanche could be a problem for Niue:
Could the tiny Pacific island nation of Niue have been knocked off the Internet by a surge of online interest following a post on the information technology news site, Slashdot.org?
According to an online media report, a posting this week on a favourite news site of Internet aficionados, Slashdot, about Niue's recent launch of the world's first free-of-charge nationwide WiFi (wireless) Internet access service had caused so many people to log onto the island's server that it made it unworkable.
This sort of this makes the Flea's chains rattle in irritation:
The world's first bicycle was developed by a Japanese feudal lord in 1732, a model recently created on the basis of a Edo-Period drawing has suggested.
Here is a claim the bicycle was invented in Japan some time before its emergence in France. If so, why did it not take off there? Probably because "most of the roads in the country were bumpy at the time." Let us say this boat-on-wheels is a proto-bicycle instead of being what it manifestly is, i.e. a boat-on-wheels. So what? I imagine the roads of France were bumpy circa 1861 and yet they had the sense to do something about it. And bumpy roads are no impediment to a determined cyclist in any event.
File this claim to the origins of the bicycle alongside equally ludicrous claims China "discovered" the Americas and invented ice cream or "Africanist" claims to having constructed the pyramids. This sort of junk archaeology is only slightly less ludicrous than alien intervention theories but crosses a more problematic line in its openly racialist intent. Blah.
And then... Self-hating morons keep leaving outraged remarks about this post. Question your own biases before spluttering away about the superiority of any technology, belief-system or economic arrangement other than the one which actually produced the bicycle. I will not publish your pet peeves about the French or anybody else. Feel free to pay for your own blog.
Bill Whittle's latest essay is called Trinity. He writes the following message for people like me:
To hell with those people! It’s our birthday, dammit. This one is for us. Americans. This includes all you Americans living in foreign lands with foreign passports, speaking foreign languages and holding foreign citizenships. You know who you are. If you’re an optimist, if untrammeled freedom makes you giddy, if you think you know of a better way to do something and just want a chance to try, if you can tell right from wrong and still care about the difference, if you’re soft hearted and tough minded, if you think we could all get along just great if we’d all just leave each other alone, if you don’t like to fight but know sometimes you just have to, and most especially, if the idea of leaving the huddled masses and joining the pursuit of happiness has a mystical appeal for you, then you are already an American in your heart. Welcome home. Get here any way you can. We need people like you.
And then... I tend to post links to Bill Whittle's material before I have finished reading it. In fact, I am taking a break from Trinity to type this. This is in part because I want to let what he is saying sink in. It is also because I don't want the essay to end just yet. But mainly it is because I have to share this cosmos-shatteringly excellent image...
... the world’s first fusion-powered, laser-armed, flying stealth submarine, the USS George W. Bush.
Let us build it at once.
Even the Flea is haunted by the fate of Captain Robert Falcon Scott and his last polar expedition. It seems Captain Scott's scientific legacy lives on through thirty-five pounds of rocks and fossils his team retrieved from the south pole:
Observers have since questioned the wisdom of carrying them all that way but Scott and his colleagues were determined that the expedition have a scientific cause.
Almost a century later, the party's plant fossils have helped overturn a long-held theory.
The Washington Post reports an alleged assault on John Walker Lindh. First, the Flea is astonished at the Post's lack of cultural sensitivity given JWL's preference to be known as Sulayman Al-Lindh (or was that Abdul Hamid?).
Second is the closing line of the Post article:
Washington contends bin Laden was behind the Sept. 11 attacks.
Someone needs to edit these things more carefully. I cannot believe that line was meant to read Washington contends Osama bin Laden directed the attacks.
A Greek scholar who sent explicit letters and a pink thong to Jordan was obsessed with the 25-year-old, a court has heard.
The Flea is at a loss for how these obsessions develop.
The assassin who murdered Dutch politican Pim Fortuyn is to appeal an expected life sentence for his crime. The assassin claims he would not do it again (oh well, in that case) but "still hadn't decided" whether he was justified in murdering Fortuyn.
McDonald's new McGriddle sandwich is being sold all over southern Ontario. Must be the sweet, sweet taste of maple syrup baked right into every pre-branded bite. The Flea takes his first-uptaker status seriously and was at the local McD's for breakfast as soon as the first new item rolled off the menu and on to my tray.
Yummy! In fact, bizarre by yummy. I discovered the bizarre part thanks to a ninja-themed McDonald's ad running on soon-to-be Spike TV. McDonald's Canada has not seen fit to tell the Canadian consumer of the bizarre nature of the McGriddle.
The Flea favourite is a snip at only 420 calories and 23 grams of fat. It's like eating a quarter-pounder with cheese for breakfast!
FAT: 23 G.
SATURATED FAT: 7 G.
SODIUM: 970 MG.
CHOLESTEROL: 35 MG.
CARBOHYDRATES: 42 G.
Canada's next Prime Minister may be blogger but he... how to put this... lacks commitment. Paul's Blog has not been updated in over a week missing, for example, Canada Day. The Flea is confident we will learn all about Paul Martin's celebration of Canada's birthday with family and friends just as soon as whoever writes his blog notices referrals from this latest well snide Flea-post.
Nobody ever seems to do anything for The Kids! All the decisions are made by suits, man. That's so lame!!! We know you think of yourselves as responsible citizens, but what you wanna do is turn that thought into an action, dudes.
Get involved - to the extreme!
The BBC politics for kids/teens site is, like, totally wacked! Ditto for the Parliament education site, which even has a section for younger yoof. Fanta-stick!
The Flea's Patrick Stewart-like gravitas and, sadly, lack of hair mean I shall not be able to emulate this special hairstyle.
Apologies in advance for the bad pun.
Tens of thousands of homosexuals killed or persecuted by the Nazi regime are to be commemorated in a central memorial in Berlin under plans announced by Germany's centre-left coalition on Wednesday.
This Reuters article fails to mention some important details. Gay men were subject to medical experimentation and castration in Nazi Germany as part of the same insane eugenics project which rationalized the Holocaust. With the end of the war, gay concentration camp prisoners were transferred to Allied prisons because they remained criminals under German law. Imagine, for a moment, the spectre of the rest of Hitler's victims being transferred from one camp to another with Allied victory. The law under which they were imprisoned remained German law until 1969.
In 1868 British soldiers looted the Maqdala fortress in the north of Ethiopia as part of a campaign to free some hostages.
Royal treasures along with some valuable manuscripts and religious artefacts found their way into museums and private collections.
One of these treasures - a tabot, an altar slab or ark - is now returning to Ethiopia after a private individual purchased it at auction. While this philanthropic soul seeks to avoid a political controversy the tone of this BBC report suggests support for the return of Ethiopian artifacts to Ethiopia. The Flea is not so sure. Accounts by those sympathetic to the Ethiopian government tend to play down the reason for the British expedition which made off with the artifacts.
Someone dropped by the Flea from the Cocos (Keeling) Islands the other day. Please drop me a line if you visit again! I think the Flea's extensive scientific research agenda could use a visit to the Cocos Islands.
Cold Fury posts on the loss of a certain something in popular conceptions of beauty in the United States (via the Dragon's Muse). That certain something might be called style, class or grace. Of course, comparing anyone to Audrey Hepburn is hardly sporting. Audrey was an angel.
My favourite part of Cold Fury's photo essay is an aside he makes when comparing male stars of old and their contemporary counterparts:
This is what men looked like before men became unfashionable
Quite right. Robert Mitchum was an excellent example. But don't forget the Duke.
The words "Christina Aguilera," "undulation" and "hose" sound promising particularly when combined with an MTV injunction to Ms. Aguilera to tone it down after viewing her latest video, Can't Hold Us Down.
Understandably, Aguilera is livid. "She doesn't say that a male performer would get away with it, but she does feel that there are double standards," a spokeswoman for Aguilera told the New York Post.
Imagine the Flea's disappointment at the banality of said video. Worse still, said song lyrics concern... wait for it... sexual double standards.
So, what, am I not supposed to have an opinion? Should I keep quiet just because I'ma woman?
The whole teapot-tempest is, in other words, a marketing ploy. And to think I believed the line about MTV having a standards department.
Most visitors to the world's largest Buddhist temple, the Borobudur stupa in central Java, probably never notice the five intricate stone engravings of eighth-century ocean-going ships.
Scattered among the monument's 1,460 weather-beaten stone relief panels that narrate tales from Buddhist scriptures, the largest is only about 50cm high and 70cm wide.
The temple panels depicted ancient trading vessels which plied the seas as far as Madagascar and possibly beyond. Ex-naval officer and fund manager Philip Beale commissioned a new 'Borobudur Ship' and has set sail with a crew of fourteen to recreate those journeys.
Despite teaching an archaeology course on Mayan civilization the Flea confesses abject confusion at the Byzantine ins-and-outs of Mayan politics in the classic period. One source of ongoing enjoyment are Mayan names: Moon Zero Bird is a personal favourite.
Hawk Skull is representative of the phenomenon and a finer name for a first born son (or daughter) of a Flea it is harder to imagine. That said, a stella from Hawk Skull's seventh-century kingdom suggests Mayan politics were yet more complicated than I had imagined.
This post may cross some line of consistency or common sense given the Flea's devotion to Kylie Minogue, Madonna and all sorts of nonsense. The Lair of the Flea resounds with KylieFever2002 as I type this and it is with a yearning for London matched only in the heart of William Blake that I look across the spectral sea of the internet to the lost shores of British pop culture. The Flea's speculum chanced upon Sophie Ellis-Bexter and hopeful thoughts of a new diva to worship came close behind.
The Flea's chains rattled in glorious anticipation as Ellis-Bexter's music clips prepared to play, the music started and... the horror! This is awful. Truly terrible. But worse was to come... could it be this pop music star could not sing all that well but was getting by on her looks?
Madonna and her film director husband, Guy Ritchie, wrote to Prime Minister Tony Blair, expressing concern that the planned walkway would encourage curious sightseers and paparazzi.
Canada Day only rolls around once a year. Who could miss the wave of patriotic quasi-enthusiasm for which Canada is noted? This is a perfect opportunity to advocate a pet project. Canadian Flea-readers whose idea of foreign parts are those belonging to our American cousins may not know how Canada is perceived to the four corners of the world. You can all hear the murmers from the good seats: "Peace keepers? Honest brokers?"
Canada is boring, people. It is a boring wasteland. Now, you and I may know the truth of our cosmopolitan, sophisticated and exciting northern lifestyle but I can assure you the rest of the world does not. Canada needs to trim-down, shape-up and above all re-brand. Thus, ReCanada. The Flea welcomes suggestions from Flea-readers everywhere toward this Sisyphean effort.
A particularly adorable Flea-reader made the following contribution for the ReToronto end of the campaign. The Tower has to go. We have been waving it at the Americans since the '70s and I am sure by now the good people of Buffalo have either got the message or they never will.
It is also time for ReProvince. The Maritime provinces (plus Newfoundland and Labrador) are a scenic wonder populated by tourism-friendly locals yet we have failed to produce a single H.P. Lovecraft or Stephen King to mythologize the region in crappy horror fiction. We should amalgamate eastern Canada into one super-province of Atlantis and Labrador. Idiots of the world will be stumbling over themselves to spend money in Atlantis. And how about Saskatchewan? The place may be huge and flat but we can generate some buzz for the newly re-branded Sasquatchewan.
The Flea may be a stripper by night and a blogger by later night but even a superhero with the proportional strength of a Flea can use a ride.
The Flea cannot beat the People News headline so chooses to simply steal and rip-off the headline instead. Posh Spice's thought is still bent on conquering the American heart and plans a cameo appearance on Will & Grace in a move sure to attract more Flea coverage:
Victoria modestly explained to (Eric) McCormack - who is currently staying in London - that she didn't want a lead role quite yet. She purred, 'I want glamour and sophistication. A small part suits me down to the ground.'
Sophistication is a word which leaps to mind whenever Victoria Beckham's name is mentioned. Here are some non-traffic generating links to Victoria Beckham's "comical breasts," in Venice with David Beckham, and at her husband's feet (that's Posh and Becks for all you search engines out there).
This used to be called Dominion Day when I was growing up. "Canada Day" was a made-up holiday used as an excuse to close the Canadian embassy to Tehran and thereby smuggle American diplomats out from the insanity of the Iranian revolution.
Some time after that Canada Day became official and here it is once again.
Once upon a time in 1867 Canada became quasi-independent from the United Kingdom and it remains quasi-independent to this day. Our new-fangled constitution has rested ultimate judicial authority with a home-grown Supreme Court since 1982 but our head of state remains Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada. Manifest destinies to the contrary, we remain steadfastly independent of our southern neighbour. So much so, in fact, that our foreign policy is reliably the opposite of whatever our neighbour chooses to do in order to prove our sovereignty right-or-wrong.
This is a difficulty with independence. We are so busy proving our independence we effectively cede the ability to make choices for ourselves and in this way lose our freedom. Freedom cannot mean agreeing with every tin-pot dictator if only to prove Canadian independence from the United States. Real freedom means an ability to make choices even when they coincide with the views of our loved-ones who, naturally, are the people who scare us the most.
Happy Canada Day.