Another article for another day, but this time both the writing and the subject are up to par:
“Weston’s athletic career started with two things: an insane bet, and the election of Abraham Lincoln as president of the United States. During the 1860 campaign, Weston bet his friend George Eddy that Lincoln would never win the White House. If he lost the bet, Weston would have to walk the 478 miles from the Massachusetts State House in Boston to Washington, D.C., to watch the inauguration. As it happened, Lincoln won a four-way race with 39.8 percent of the popular vote, and Weston set out in the deep winter of 1861. Weston, with his instinct for publicity, made sure that a large crowd gathered to see him off. Women gave him kisses to take to the president. A group of drummers followed him around. Debt collectors descended to arrest him — he was always in debt — but were persuaded to let him go.
After leaving the festival at the State House, Weston tromped for 10 straight days through snow, mud, and ice, sleeping an hour here and there, trailed by a carriage hauling his judges and friends. He fell repeatedly. Away from the crowd, he became dejected and irritable. At one point, as he writes in his memoir of the event, he “complained of a severe pain in his chest, and attributed it to the eating of mustard on sandwiches.” (Nineteenth-century sports science!) In the end, he made it to the Capitol a few hours late for Lincoln’s inauguration, but word of his endeavor had spread, and he attended Lincoln’s first levee at the White House. The new president offered to pay his train fare back to Boston, but Weston theatrically insisted that since he had failed in his task, he would walk back.”
Read the article by Brian Phillips in its entirety over at Grantland.
Even though the writing in the article I’m about to recommend could at best be described as slightly above mediocre, the subject-matter proved to be unexpectedly and decidedly interesting, which always trumps presentation.
“King Kalākaua, who began his reign in 1874, was a Hawaiian nationalist as well as a reckless partier (they called him “the Merrie Monarch”). He defended traditions such as the hula from the attacks of American missionaries, who disapproved of and suppressed whatever they felt was irreligious or amoral. Unfortunately, the king’s heavy drinking and reckless spending were what probably left him vulnerable to a power grab by a group of white businessmen calling themselves “the Hawaiian League.” The Mahele had made it possible for these men to make or inherit obscene amounts of money from pineapple and sugar plantations. In 1887, the league forced Kalākaua to sign away most of his power, some say at gunpoint. A cadre of Americans with growing financial interest in Hawaii held Kalākaua’s sister and successor, Lili‘uokalani, in the palace under house arrest for eight months after a counterrevolutionary group of native Hawaiians attempted to restore her authority as sovereign. Among these American businessmen were James Dole, founder of the Dole pineapple plantation (where tourists can now lose themselves in the world’s largest garden maze), and his cousin Sanford Dole, who then became interim president of the Republic of Hawaii. Activists for native sovereignty held several twentieth-century protests of the monarchy’s overthrow at ‘Iolani Palace; in 2008, a group of native Hawaiians managed to lock the gates to the palace. To these activists, Hawaii never should have become part of the United States.”
To read this entire piece by Nicole Pasulka, head over here.
After finishing that morsel, try listening to the next clip without feeling a twang of irony:
And then subdue thoughts of the search for personal identity, national strife, and individual conscience within a social structure by rocking out to kermit:
Seeing this video of the complex relationship between the city of London and London made me realise that Belgium isn’t such a darned complicated country after all.
Although the governmental structure can be somewhat overwrought, even when it is being oversimplified as in the video below.
And then I remembered, … [insert dramatic drumroll:]
The lovely quaint messiness of the city of Baarle:
All this led me back to the wonderful weird world of enclaves and counter-enclaves, exclaves and pene-enclaves, and the delightful people who spend their free time studying and arguing about relative merit and correct nomenclature. It’s bickering fools like these who made the world what it is today, a place full of eccentricity and limitless entertainment, and I love them for it.
“In keeping with the original meaning of the word, this apology is a defense of enclaves, a fascinating but endangered border phenomenon. Yet at the same time, this piece is also an apology of sorts for enclaves , for two examples in particular: Baarle, Belgium, and Cooch Behar, India/Bangladesh, both of which involve not one or two but dozens of atomized enclaves spread throughout, respectively, Dutch and Bangladeshi/Indian territory. It’s fair to ask why these lands, which by all accounts feed daily bureaucratic nightmares, have been allowed to survive.
This article must also contain an apology as well — in particular to Simon, from Singapore. In a comment on the previous post in this series, Simon, a self-declared border/no-man’s land/enclave buff, warned me against visiting the subjects of Baarle and Cooch Behar. “Am a bit fed up reading about the town in Belgium and the mess in Bangladesh/India,” he wrote. “We need new ones!”
Understood, and agreed. Border studies, and enclave-spotting in particular, are disciplines that should not be reduced to their star subjects. Obscure examples, and the concomitant thrill of discovery, are part of the attraction of scouting for border anomalies, a few of which Simon suggested: “Haven’t seen much in the literary record on the Malaysian railway in Singapore … used to be Malaysian territory once you got on the train.” He likewise suggested “the little back door leading into Guantánamo Bay solely for the Cuban pensions officer.”
My own favorite obscure border anomalies include the Drummully Polyp, a pene-enclave  on the intra-Irish border, and the omelet-shaped enclave complex of Madha and Nahwa — Madha being a small Omani enclave inside the United Arab Emirates, and Nahwa in turn a tiny emirates enclave inside Madha . And there are plenty of river/border asynchronicities  around the world to get excited about.”
I’m sure that we’ll eventually get to these, or other equally obscure examples of anomalous borders. But when it comes to enclaves, Baarle and Cooch Behar are, for lack of a better word, uncircumventable. How better to explain to an entry-level enthusiast the ins and outs of this particular border phenomenon than via the world’s two most spectacular examples?[… read the full article over at the NYT]”
Tom Hussey is an American advertising photographer from Dallas, Texas. In 2010 he was commissioned by Novartis to create a series of images related to an Exelon Patch (Rivastigmine), a prescripition medicine for the treatment of mild to moderate Alzheimer’s dementia.
The resulting pictures struck a chord with a large audience, partly because of the extremely well executed idea behind them, and the poignancy of the message, partly because they are unceremoniously and unapologetically over-sentimentalised representations of a very human condition. They manage to toe the line between being engrossing works of art and becoming glossy representations of a very grim reality. As such these pictures are at the summum of advertising, a full embodiment of the meaningfully meaningless.
You can visit the full gallery here.
Talking about some powerful advertising, that’s something surprisingly best left over to Thai Insurance companies. (Not a dry eye in the room)
It’s the little, desperate things that hurt the most. The Japanese craftsman whose netsuke gets chipped before completion, the desperate who don’t get their Hollywood-endings, the unexpected failures that form the fabric of daily live. And it’s the story behind them that reaffirms a basic belief in humanity, in society, as slightly less fucked up than it actually is, perhaps even as modestly worthwhile.
After all, it’s the sick mind that thought up the piece of vomit-inducing television which follows this paragraph, who also came up with the thought-provoking essay which follows that. And isn’t that painfully beautiful? Potential shattered as a rose dipped in Nitrogen. It hurts good.
“… The budget for a typical TV movie was much smaller, the stars were less expensive since they were either on the way up or on the way down or, like me, static inhabitants of a realm of generally low expectations.
I grew to learn not to think of myself as an author, as the creator of a stand-alone piece of writing. A screenplay is not a book, it’s not exactly a text, it’s not really even a thing. The physical form of a screenplay—120 or so pages held together by brass fasteners—is not to be taken seriously, because the script is in reality a sort of floating proposition, an ever-evolving set of instructions. The words “final draft” are eventually used, but since important changes are made all the way through the editing room, the idea of a final draft is notional. As a writer you are brutally reminded again and again that your script is not the end product; the movie is. …”
Read more over at Slate.
“Already doubting whether pursuit is the best option as I am making my surprised way through the hall into the street, oozing with the musk of righteous anger. Disappointed to find that the group is halfway gone, and much more than halfway female. Not much pride to be found in picking a fight with these pumped up vixens and drunk boys, who, despite their boisterous attitude are stumbling even as they walk away, having seen both sides of this relatively short street a multitude of times.
If their vestibular system can’t even keep them upright while they walk, then what honor is there in whacking it even further out of place for them. Besides, all this instantaneous contemplation has driven down the initial adrenolytic reaction, and filled me with thoughts of relative forgiveness and serenity.
Before the night is over I will be wanting to comfort the wretch who threw the stone or shoe or bottle. I’ll be wondering what it was that got them worked up enough to marshall their flailing limbs with such poise and direction. I’ll be thinking of the opportunities that the hole in the outer glass window presents me with. But not quite yet though. My outrage may have subsided, but it wouldn’t take much more than a toothfull grin to make all this reasonableness come to naught.”
The first time I heard some version of the legend of Ned Kelly was on an unexpected visit to Dublin when I was 18. I was trying to buoy my young pseudo-intellectual snobbery by visiting the city that Joyce was so eager to live in, and the country he was so eager to leave.
Through no effort of my own (Serendipity has always taken too good care of me) I managed to be there during the night of the musea. One of the places which would have a special opening was the house where “The dead” (the last piece in “Dubliners“) opens.
A grand 1906-style dinner was thrown by the eccentric owner of the place, who had just recently restored the entire building, and whose head was brimming with the sort of crazy and unattainable plans which I would only all too readily fall victim to years later.
In exchange for one trinket or another, probably a stone from the original house, an Australian weirdo (A tautology if ever there was one) had gifted your man a copy of Ned Kelly’s grave, which was resting in the cellar of 15 Usher’s Island for some good use later on.
This led to the retelling of the story of Ned Kelly, grandson of Tipperary, Villain and Hero, mastermind and imbecile, killer and killed.
I came back too it tonight through a rather circuitous route of unsubstantiated association, as evidenced below.
For children of all ages, courtesy of the man without words:
“Somehow, without lecturing or threatening or studying any books, we all followed the same rules, from the time the kids were young:
Life has been created for you to enjoy, but you won’t enjoy it unless you pay for it with some good, hard work. This is one price that will never be marked down.
You can work at whatever you want to as long as you do it as well as you can and clean up afterwards and you’re at the table at mealtime and in bed at bedtime.
Respect what the others do. Respect Dad’s harp, Mom’s paints, Billy’s piano, Alex’s set of tools, Jimmy’s designs, and Minnie’s menagerie.
If anything makes you sore, come out with it. Maybe the rest of us are itching for a fight too.
If anything strikes you as funny, out with that too. Let’s all the rest of us have a laugh.
If you have an impulse to do something you’re not sure is right, go ahead and do it. Take a chance. Chances are, if you don’t you’l regret it-unless you break the rules about mealtime or bedtime, in which case you’ll sure as hell regret it.
If it’s a question of whether to do what’s fun or what is supposed to be good for you, and nobody is hurt by whichever you do, alway’s do what’s fun.
If things get too much for you and you feel the whole world’s against you, go stand on your head. If you can think of anything crazier to do, do it.
Don’t worry about what other people think. The only person in the world important enough to conform to is yourself.
Anybody who mistreats a pet or breaks a pool cue is docked a month’s pay.”