“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Archive for November 2007

Happy Birthday Harry’s Place.

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It is the fifth birthday of Harry’s Place blog, this Saturday and I wish them well.

Although Harry himself has taken a back seat the blog continues and still raises many interesting issues, whilst I don’t find myself in absolute agreement with many of them, it is good to read a different point of view and mull over the arguments.

Harry’s Place provides a fairly free and easy environment and unlike other blogs does not require registration, enforce a strict moderation policy or suffer from capricious administrators.

In many ways Harry’s Place fulfils a niche, as do most blogs, reflecting the interests and predisposition of their owners, so at any one time the topics may vary from the goings-on amongst the minuscule British Left, the invasion of Iraq, the aftermath, the Brown Government to the incoherent thoughts of some politicians or “community leaders”.

And in all of it there is open debate, an energetic exchange of opinions, some views are obnoxious, repetitive and even xenophobic, others are orientalist and patronising, still more are humanistic, universal and point to the fact that not one group or one person knows all the answers, all of the time.

The participants at Harry’s Place are diverse, stretching across many continents, many occupations and many preoccupations, but when it works well the debates are intelligent, compassionate, informative and humorous, and that’s all you can ask for.

Of course, Harry’s Place has its critics, and being the Internet the detractors are never short of invective, but it is noticeable that very few of them choose to make their points at HP and debate them openly. Instead they snipe from afar, which really isn’t the point when it comes to having a candid and interesting exchange of views.

If you want a sterile debate or the accolade of “nodding dogs” then HP is not for you. HP is a virtual pub where you might not like the customers or even the publican, but there is debate and the clientele is often amusing, thoughtful and provocative. So if you like to think, reason or discuss current affairs then HP might be the place for you.

Written by modernityblog

24/11/2007 at 14:56

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Got Enough Conspiracies?

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Bookforum often has a wonderful mixture of linking and their page on The Best Conspiracy Theories is no exception:

“From Skeptic, an article on answering public questions on UFOs and aliens. An article on 30 years of Close Encounters: Spielberg, Hynek, and UFOs. A new issue of Skeptical Inquirer is out, including a model UFO debunking: A review of War of the Words: The True but Strange Story of the Gulf Breeze UFO by Craig R. Myers; an article on the (non)mysterious orbs; and is this article on conspiracies part of a conspiracy? In the world of conspiracies, Elvis is alive, Paul McCartney is dead, and the government that couldn’t prevent the 9/11 attacks continues masterminding elaborate, highly complex schemes. From Wired, an article on the best conspiracy theories (Lizard-People are running the world!) From Jewcy, not all respected academics have found that psychics and spirit mediums are quacks; a look at YouTube’s top psychics; communicating with the dead: In upstate New York, mediums promise access to the afterlife — can you say hello to your deceased father? An interview with Eric Nuzum, author of The Dead Travel Fast: Stalking Vampires from Nosferatu to Count Chocula”

Written by modernityblog

17/11/2007 at 21:26

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The Only One?

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I must be the only one that never comments on Britteny Spears, but this item on the New Humanist blog is funny:

” Britney Spears offends Catholic Church

As if she didn’t have enough problems already, troubled pop star Britney Spears has gone and offended the Catholic Church with the artwork for her new album, Blackout. Two photos from the CD booklet show a scantily-clad Britney appearing to seduce a Catholic priest in a confessional booth, in one case sitting on his lap.”

Written by modernityblog

15/11/2007 at 21:06

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Modernity Blog on audio

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Your greatest fears have been realised, through advanced technology we can offer you ModernityBlog in full audio!

Simply click on this button and you should be able to hear each of the most recent posts, rendered to you via text-to-speech technology, scroll down for the MP3s.

If it all works well, I will explained later on how I did it.

Written by modernityblog

14/11/2007 at 23:43

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Art for Art’s Sake

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Forget the Tate modern, ignore the Guggenheim in Bilboa and definitely skip the Met in New York, the place to be is Peru, according to an Associated Press report:

“LIMA, Peru (AP) — Carbon dating tests and excavation of a colorful pre-Incan temple indicate that it was built thousands of years ago by an advanced civilization, a prominent archaeologist said in comments published Sunday by a Peruvian newspaper.

Unearthed in Peru’s archeologically rich northern coastal desert, the temple has a staircase leading to an altar that was used for worshipping fire and making offerings to deities, Walter Alva, who headed the three-month excavation, told El Comercio.

Some of the walls of the 27,000-square-foot site — almost half the size of a football field — were painted, and a white and red mural depicts a deer being hunted with a net.

Alva said the temple was apparently constructed by an “advanced civilization” because it was built with mud bricks made from sediment found in local rivers, instead of rocks.

“This discovery shows an architectural and iconographic tradition different from what has been known until now,” said Alva, who discovered and is the museum director for another important pre-Incan find, the nearby Lords of Sipan Moche Tombs.

The carbon dating tests, conducted in the United States, indicate that the site is 4,000 years old, he claimed.

The oldest known city in the Americas is Caral, also near the Peruvian coast, which researchers dated to 2627 B.C.”

Written by modernityblog

14/11/2007 at 00:53

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Don’t Forget Burma

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We’ll all guilty of it.

In a world dominated by the 24 hour media and always looking for the “next new thing” we tend to forget about people across the world, until recently on our TV screens, who are still struggling for basic human rights and freedom.

A new web site is starting up Don’t Forget Burma, and we shouldn’t until every last one of the military dictators is kicked out and placed on trial.

Also, see Burma Watch

Written by modernityblog

12/11/2007 at 01:23

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The New Statesman has a review of the Israeli film, Beaufort:

“Beaufort, now being shown in London at the Jewish Film Festival ahead of UK-wide distribution next March, is set in the dog days of Israel’s 18-year occupation of South Lebanon. It tells the story of the last unit to withdraw, quaking with fear as the Hezbollah rockets rain down. Given that the Israel Defence Force assisted with the production, it is very off-message.

Israel has its share of left-wing film-makers. But few have made films about fighting and even fewer have enjoyed commercial success. Yet 135,000 (in a country of only 7 million) went to see Beaufort in its first two-and-a-half weeks. The Jerusalem Post, a conservative daily, dubbed it “Israel’s first great war movie”. An Israeli official describes it as “Israel’s Platoon”. But Beaufort’s success also reflects something in the national mood. Its location, and its portrait of the futility of an unwinnable war, has struck a chord with audiences reeling from last summer’s fighting.

Listen to the review here

Written by modernityblog

10/11/2007 at 16:15

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