BBC News – Alfredo Moser: Bottle light inventor proud to be poor

Excellent article on a very simple but profound solution to a common problem.

Alfredo Moser combines water and chlorine in a soda bottle to create a “solar” lamp which is currently affecting lives around the world.

BBC News – Alfredo Moser: Bottle light inventor proud to be poor.

This Day in History: Future U.S. President Andrew Jackson Kills Charles Dickinson for Publicly Calling Jackson a “Worthless Scoundrel, a Poltroon and a Coward”

English: Andrew Jackson - 7 th President of th...

English: Andrew Jackson - 7 th President of the United States (1829–1837) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If I had a time-machine, one of the first people I would visit from American history would be Andrew Jackson.  I just came across this interesting post about the President and this day in history.

via This Day in History: Future U.S. President Andrew Jackson Kills Charles Dickinson for Publicly Calling Jackson a “Worthless Scoundrel, a Poltroon and a Coward”.

Heroes : My Favorite 20th C Moral Drama

Official portrait of J. Robert Oppenheimer, fi...

J. Robert Oppenheimer - Image via Wikipedia

This afternoon, I was introduced to someone from Oak Ridge, TN about a work related topic.  He introduced himself as being from the town that housed the Manhattan Project and needless to say our conversation quickly digressed to a piece of history that compels me.  The Manhattan Project was the US WWII effort to create the first atomic weapon.  When I was in undergrad, Professor Ostrower asked us to name two Americans in history we would visit with a time machine.  #1 on my list was, and is, the head of the Manhattan Project: J. Robert Oppenheimer, the man oft referred to as “The Father of the Atomic Bomb”.

“Why Oppenheimer?”, my professor asked.

Because I want to be able to talk one-on-one with the man who later compared the Trinity Test (the first atomic detonation) to a Hindu passage “I am become Death, the Destroyer of worlds.”  It’s one thing to read books and watch interviews, but I wish I could talk to him while he was in the mire.  “How did you reconcile your humanity with your duty to country and ‘the greater good’?”  My friend from Oak Ridge made the point that all those researchers felt the conflict.  I’m sure that’s true.  If you are a part of something of that magnitude and do not feel conflicted, maybe you shouldn’t be taking part.  Oppenheimer, as the project lead, though, had a whole other layer to contemplate.  I feel this story is one of the greatest human dramas of the 20th Century.

I don’t feel what Oppenheimer did was good or bad.  That’s not why I want to talk to him.  My desire is just to understand his process, his feelings, his humanity, because on its own scale, it is a snapshot of our larger human drama and the conflicts which shape our world, and the conflicts which shape our lives.  Sure, on a daily basis, most of us don’t deal with the invention of the single most destructive instrument on the planet, but nonetheless, our own moral dramas deal with the same core: self vs duty, love, hopes, and the compromises we make to advance the story.

Heroes : Schroeder from the Peanuts

This is an article about Schroeder.
Shroeder is a musical genius and man of quiet temperance.  He has moments when his patience is tried, but he usually gives a heavy sigh (let the negative feelings out) and then drops his hands onto the piano.
I have to admit, with absolute sincerity, Schroeder has been one of my heroes since I was little.  It was his music with which I originally identified: the romantic composers: Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt, etc.  Of all the characters in The Peanuts, Schroeder is the one who is a part of the action, but then steps back, and sees life as a whole in this beautiful abstract profusion of sound and color.  I suppose it’s those same reasons that I enjoyed the character of Simon in William Golding’s Lord of the Flies.  Simon could step back, see the world for what it was, and understand.
One of my favorite moments in animation comes from A Boy Named Charlie Brown.  If you have 5 minutes, watch it.
YouTube Preview Image

Heroes : Edward Hopper

Edward Hopper is an American realist of the first half of the 20th Century.  You can read up on him here via Wikipedia.

I’m not sure when I got into him, but I’m glad I did.  I identify with his work in a very similar way to that of Gregory Crewdson.  There’s the evocation of loneliness, introspection, voyeurism, mystery, and character depth by depicting (in many cases) these isolated people painted in harsh contrasts framed, or often contained, by some larger construct.

To the left, I chose to paste in “Nighthawks” because it’s one of the iconic images by Hopper, and from it, one can also see similarities to the works of Lynch, Scorsese, and Crewdson reminiscent ofTaxi Driver, or below, “Summer Evening”, which feels of Twin Peaks or Blue Velvet. 

I have a fascination with night and the way light can create these pools of contrast and drama.  In nighttime, we choose what to light and therefore what to see.  We also choose what to keep concealed, what to leave for the imagination to consider and maybe even obsess over.  I think that mystery of the dark areas is a beautiful thing and that depiction of the light areas, the way we choose to throw the light, really paints the story being told.

A friend of mine gave me the quote once by Leonard Misonne “The object is nothing; the light is everything.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was trying to find some interesting Hopper video on YouTube.  Maybe some footage of him working, but didn’t have any luck.  This is kind of an interesting clip someone put together of his work against “Town Without Pity” by Gene Pitney.  I don’t necessarily like the idea of listening to music when looking at paintings because I think it messes with your own interpretation, however, in this case, I do think this is an interesting work worth the few minutes.  (and if you want to just watch the slide show, hit mute).

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Heroes : Thelonious Monk

Thought I might start slowly assembling some content based around “heroes” of mine.  I’ll start off with Thelonious Monk.  It’s easy to argue this man’s place in music history.  If you get a chance, and want to see an amazing documentary, Clint Eastwood was executive producer on a film called Straight, No Chaser, which collects a treasure trove of 16mm black and white footage of Monk against interviews with his friends, family, and bandmates.

This first tune, “‘Round About Midnight”, is one of my favorites.  I also have the famous Miles Davis version on my YouTube “Music” playlist which you can find here.

 

 

 

Reach out and make a friend