Archive for June 4th, 2008

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Veritas and My Search for Truth

June 4, 2008

I have to tell you how I got myself into this mess or you won’t believe it. Inspired by Jim’s post on notebooks, I pulled out a couple of notebooks I bought a long time ago. One of them is a black, spiral-bound notebook with the word “VeritasTM” on the cover and “Made in Taiwan” on the back.

Veritas, of course, means truth. So I decided to try to find out who had trademarked the Truth. I googled Veritas. The first hit was Veritas Data Center Software, owned by Symantec Corp., the owner of “veritas.com.” The second was Veritas Restaurant in New York, where the menu says that “Excessive Fragrances Detract from the Wine Experience. Please Be Sensitive to Those Around You.” (So take it easy with the Old Spice, I guess.) The third hit was Veritas GMAT Elite Test Preparation, in case you would care to join the elite, which is fine if you don’t plan to run for President. The fourth hit was Wikipedia where we finally get some Roman mythology. The fifth hit, however, was Veritas Vineyard & Winery. All right, I see: In Vino, Veritas.

This was getting me nowhere, or at least no closer to Taiwan, so I decided to try another strategy, namely Wikipedia, where I typed in “Search for Truth.” The first hit there was, as you probably have guessed, a vinyl record released by the progressive metal band, Protest the Hero. It has only 2 tracks, the first being “Is Anybody There?” Not a bad question if you’re searching for truth. The second hit was an anti-Mormon video (good grief). The third was (oh, thank heavens) a treatise by Descartes.

In the top 20 Wikipedia hits, we also find “Search Engine Marketing” (ha, a lot of help that was), the Colbert Report (ah, yes, truthiness), and — what’s this? — “List of US daytime soap opera ratings”?? What does that have to do with the search for truth? Oh, wait, that would be “Search for Tomorrow.”

I guess there’s no point in trying to track down the trademarker of Truth. Instead I should get a lantern and join Diogenes in his search for an honest man, or, in my case, an honest search engine.

This entry was posted by: Nancy
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Obama and the American Presidency

June 4, 2008

After the long Democratic primary race, today offers sweet relief for those of us on either side of the aisle, that it’s over. Regardless of how you feel about Obama’s politics, the fact that he captured the Democratic nomination is a historical first that shouldn’t escape unnoticed. Ezra Klein, I think, offers on his blog at The American Prospect, the most humanities-esque analysis I’ve seen today.

I quote the the first half here, but the whole thing (it’s pretty short) is worth the read.

Towards the end of the 1967 movie “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” Dr. John Wade Prentice, played by Sydney Poitier, sits down with his fiance’s white father, played by Spencer Tracy. “Have you given any thought to the problems your children will have?” Tracy asks. “Yes, and they’ll have some…[But] Joey feels that all of our children will be President of the United States,” replies Poitier. “How do you feel about that?” asks Tracy, looking skeptically at the black man in front of him. “I’d settle for Secretary of State,” Poitier laughs.

Written in the late-1960s, the exchange was, indeed, laughable. The Civil Rights Act had been passed three years prior. Two years before, the Watts riots had broken out, killing 35. Martin Luther King Jr. would be assassinated a year later. But here we are, almost exactly 40 years after theatergoers heard that exchange. The last two Secretaries of State were African-American and, as of tonight, the next president may well be a black man. John Prentice’s children would probably still be in their late-30s. They could still grow up to be cabinet officials or even presidents, but they would not necessarily be trailblazers.

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Harold Lee Miller and Fair Culture

June 4, 2008

A friend of mine turned me on Harold Lee Miller a local photographer who not only happens to be very, very good, but is publishing a book on fair culture this winter through the Indiana Historical Society Press. I just viewed the pictures available on his website and they’re quite engaging.

I know that sounds like a toss-off compliment, equivalent to “They were nice in the good parts and good in the nice parts” but each picture really has its own personality despite sharing compositional elements and backdrop. Some pictures are unsettling, others are comfortable. Some show animals and their people as partners, others show the people being very much in control. I’m not here to write picture-by-picture reviews (although I am enamored of the guy with the cow) you just need to go check out the site yourself.

Miller style is clean and simple which is part of their engaging nature because it is immediately evident that there’s a lot of passion in these photos but it being delivered to the viewer through subtle signals that cease being subtle immediately upon discovery.

I would personally like to see a wider spectrum of fair culture represented in the finished product, but even if there isn’t, the photographs on display here offer firm assurance that the book will be worth picking up.

This entry was posted by: Jim
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How to Use Historical Analogy

June 4, 2008

Over at the the TPMCafe Book Club they’re discussing The Candy Bombers by Andrei Cherny about the Berlin airlift. Newsweek columnist Jonathan Alter makes several points about academia and the uses (and abuses) of historical analogy that I think might be of interest to readers of this blog (even if the politics of TPM aren’t).

This entry was posted by: Jim