So Many Voices in my Head Last Month!
A roundup of some of the things I've been reading, listening to, and watching over the past month or so.
Hello again. It’s time for the monthly review of some of the stuff I’ve been delving into lately. Weird word, that: “delve.” The selections below range from the heroic, to the political, to the hilarious, to the personal (#vanthropology2021). I hope you enjoy them.
Might as well start with the amazing documentary about a bunch of Thai kids who decided to delve into a cave near Chiang Rai, Thailand, only to find themselves trapped by rising waters. “The Rescue” tells the story of how thousands of people from all over the world mobilized to find and rescue those kids. It’s an incredible story, told really well in this film. It’s got the added bonus of a very happy ending (you already knew this, if you were paying any attention to the news) and the starring roles played by a few misfit weirdos who just happened to have the skills and temperament to pull it off. It’s like a superhero movie where unsuspecting normal people are suddenly called upon by a desperate world: “Only you can save us!” Wow.
Warning: You WILL cry. Here’s a link I found to watch it for free. I don’t know if it’ll work for you (I’m in Greece, so maybe it’s a European thing?) I think “The Rescue” is available on Amazon Prime and other places, if that link doesn’t work. Well worth tracking down.
Since I’m in Athens, I should mention this 6 minute documentary explaining that:
Sculptures in ancient Greece and Rome were not the white marble we’ve been led to believe, but were painted in all sorts of colors;
Experts have known this for a long time and discussed it openly in the 1800s;
Those discussions quickly faded away in the early 20th century, (possibly) because the idea of pure white marble in antiquity aligned with racist, totalitarian political movements gaining power in Europe.
Fritz Haber is like the human distillation of science, for better or worse. He won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1918 for having figured out how to produce nitrogen from air, essentially. This plentiful nitrogen is used in agriculture to boost yields several times beyond what would otherwise be possible. Global human population would arguably be half or 1/4 what it currently is without this invention. So there’s that.
But then Haber decided to support his government’s efforts in WWI. First, he showed how to use his process to create explosives, and then he figured out how to create poison chlorine gas, which was used to kill thousands of Allied troops in the trenches, a way of dying even worse than being blown apart by bombs, apparently. This “accomplishment” led his wife to shoot herself after a particularly awkward dinner party. And then, as if this isn’t bad enough, his science finds its way into the concentration camps of WWII. What a fucking story!
Remember the "mass graves of children" discovered in Canada a few months ago, as reported by the New York Times and many other outlets? In fact, no graves have been found. Oops. No doubt lots of evil shit went down in those schools, including many unexplained deaths of Indian students. But journalism has lost all meaning when unmarked graves are reported as having been found when none were, in fact, found.
Watched a couple of stand-up comedy specials this month. Dave Chappelle’s latest, on Netflix, is called “What’s in a Name?” It’s a speech he gave at the arts school he went to in lieu of public high school in DC. It’s a good speech, at times moving, funny, insightful. But from where I’m sitting, Chappelle appears to be drowning in self-regard. He literally says, about his previous special, “The Closer,” that it is “a masterpiece,” and that he challenges his peers to make it’s equal, pre-concluding that “They cannot. I am sure.”
If this isn’t enough evidence that there is nobody still welcome in Dave’s life who can tell him to shut the fuck up, he goes on to describe himself as “a once in a lifetime talent” whose brilliance won’t be matched “for decades.”
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