19 August 2011

King of night vision, king of insight?

[Desperately battling a looming academic deadline but having been soothed by repeated listenings of these two formidable women's tribute to Galileo, I shall bow to necessity and take this opportunity to (re-)share my own:]   


What is it?

 Nicolaus Copernicus, the “heretical” 16th-century astronomer who was buried in an unmarked grave nearly 500 years ago, was rehabilitated by the Roman Catholic Church this weekend as his remains were reburied in the Polish cathedral where he had once been a canon.

The ceremonial reburial of Copernicus in a tomb in the medieval cathedral at Frombork on Poland’s Baltic coast is seen as a final sign of the Church’s repentance for its treatment of the scientist over his theory that the Earth revolves around the Sun, declared heretical by the Vatican in 1616.

"Heretical?"  Copernicus wasn't a "heretical" astronomer; he was a heretical astronomer.  The Pope being the Infinite's mouthpiece, presumably when he declares something a heresy he means it.  Whatever god is speaking to the current Pope doesn't get to play "backsies" with the one who spoke to Paul V.

The Times doesn't note the year the Vatican finally proclaimed heliocentrism the truth: 1992. 

376 years later.

But no matter.

Hand-wringing over religious heresy (in Christendom anyway) has gone the way of the dodo.  Why dredge up this dreadful word?

11 August 2011

Wha'ever it is...

It was madness, it was good fun . . . showing the rich people we can do what we want . . . it’s the governmen’s fault. The Conserva’ives, Yeah, wha’ever it is . . . who it is. I dunno.

Derek Turner at Alternative Right has kindly posted the above tale, recounted by, as he puts it, one of 'two girl geniuses interviewed by BBC Radio 4, sitting in the street at 9.30am drinking stolen rosé to refresh their maidenly parts after a hectic night of after-hours shopping.'

The destruction of the above-pictured historic Carpetright Building (survivor of the Blitz), as well as countless other homes, businesses, cars, livelihoods, and lives these last five days in England seems to have taken most observers completely by surprise. 

Not here.

The riots' origins in an Afro-Caribbean immigrant neighborhood, of course, surprised few.  Europe's slow colonization  by its erstwhile colonized these last forty years has birthed so much urban violence that it's nearly benumbed us.  Just another part of the landscape at this point: 'Welcome to Europe, don't miss our charming Biergartens, our incomparable croissants, our car-torching immigrants...'

But the photos don't lie.  This orgy of mindless destruction and theft may have been launched by Afros, but their ranks were fast swelled by an army of pure-souche, homegrown, sons-of-the-soil Englishmen, many of whom managed to rival and even surpass their Afro counterparts in pure, blind, destructive fury.

The surprise at this is what surprises us.

How such a great number of indigenous English, the sons and daughters of the old salt-of-the-earth working class of yesteryear, could have reverted into a Hobbesian state of near-total savagery is in fact an easy question to answer.  All that's required is a quick mental trip.  Extend us your hand, dear reader, for this jaunt we can go anywhere you like really, but just for fun, let's go far.

Let's go to China.

05 August 2011

'Jasmine Revolution'

Tahir Square, Cairo, 29 July 2011 
 'Instead of "Peaceful, peaceful," which demonstrators have chanted during confrontations with security forces, they repeated "Islamic, Islamic"... '

[In light of current bumps on the road to English-style liberal democracy in the newly 'free' Arab world, we here re-visit  '"Democracy promotion and the 'Jasmine Revolution'" (6-11-11).]

The 'Arab Spring' seems to have taken the Middle East, and everyone else, a bit by surprise.  While the Pentagon sweats at the thought of a North Africa full of little Irans, the State Department clicks its heels and throws on its apron, anxious to get in the kitchen and start cookin' up some democracy:
In the wake of the democratic revolutions sweeping the region, the State Department is rapidly trying to reevaluate its approach to Middle East democracy promotion. But without a budget for fiscal 2011, and with no idea of what awaits their budget in fiscal 2012, State is being forced to move money around to speed funds to the Arab countries that are trying to make the difficult transition to democracy.

'Democracy' is what they have now.  'Some other kind of democracy' is what the author maybe meant, but perhaps he had a word limit.

In any case fear not, brave tax-payer, you'll do your bit to help the Arabs get 'some other kind of democracy.'  In fact, you already are: