A delightful little automatum:


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An interesting essay against electronic writing. (in a digital journal, of course – link here)

…The significance of the tactility of reading could begin with St. Augustine. In the eighth book of his Confessions, Augustine describes the moment of his conversion to becoming a Christian:

In my misery I kept crying, “How long shall I go on saying, ‘tomorrow, tomorrow?’ ” Why not now? Why not make an end of my ugly sins at this very moment? I was asking myself these questions when all at once I heard the singing voice of a child in a nearby house. Whether it was the voice of a boy or girl I cannot say, but again and again it repeated the refrain, “Take it and read, take it read.”

Augustine is sitting beneath a fig tree in his garden, and upon hearing the voice he takes up the Bible lying near him and opens a passage at random and begins reading (Romans 13:13-14). At this moment, he tells us, “I had no wish to read more and no need to do so. For in an instant, as I came to the end of the sentence, it was as though the light of confidence flooded into my heart and all the darkness of doubt was dispelled.” Augustine closes the book, marking his place with his finger, and goes to tell his friend Alypius about his experience. His conversion is complete.

No other passage has more profoundly captured the meaning of the book than this one….

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Most of the items mentioned in this shop are replicas of ancient artifacts, but they give the impression that the Etruscan vases for sale are real. I wonder if that’s so?

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From an author we ordinarily know as a translator of Tasso: a fascinating look at the dual assaults on the family by the State and Mass Entertainment

Mass entertainment, that drivel that trickles from the jowls of leviathan while it snores, has the same end in mind: to render us less human, by separating us from family and faith.  After all, just as a strong family is a bulwark against the predations of the State, so too, as the entertainers have finally learned, is it a bulwark against the predations of the media.  At least it can be a bulwark; its members can turn aside from the glaring screen and, rubbing their eyes, glance at one another.  Its members can ask, after a long muddle, why they should attend to idols so stupid and ugly and impotent, and not to the God who made heaven and earth.

More here

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Retronaut just posted images from a home improvement catalog, circa 1970.

So, you look at pictures like these, and you try to imagine living in them. Of course, people managed it. But rooms like this seem as culturally distant as, say, medieval Japan.

Look at a couple of examples below. I’m not sure there’s even an aesthetic vocabulary robust enough to describe such designs.

retronaut's 1970's living room, with birds

Imagine waking up to this scene. Nightmares of being trapped in a nest… flocks of one-eyed creatures glaring, just glaring with those enormous black eyes. Later that day you sit down to read a book and POOSSSSSSSSSHHHH! that pen deep in your pocket jammed into your lovely inflatable sofa. Will you ever find one again in ‘Bone’?


retronaut's 1970's kitchen room

The walls and ceiling here are done in a lovely sort of lunatic baroque. But look at the carpet. Is there any doubt that it sustains itself on human flesh?

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This short fable is brilliant and visually stunning. Stories are brought to life – and they bring us to life: from Humpty Dumpty to Jules Verne.

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some of the footage here is excellent. I’d love to see them develop one at Yellowstone, too

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Amazing how well a deer only minutes old can walk on these rocks.

(q: why must people affix pretentious soundtracks to their otherwise nifty youtube videos?)

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An American poet leaves the isolation of her ‘artist’s colony’ near Gubbio, and sails to the tiny island of Lampedusa to report on waves of boat-borne immigrants. One interesting passage:

While the refugees are hidden away, there are two black faces visible on Lampedusa. One belongs to the woman on the napkin dispenser at the port cafe. She smiles from every table, her face emerging from a sea of coffee beans: “The Pleasure of Black” reads the slogan beneath her disembodied head. The other face belongs to Father Vincent Mwagala, a Catholic priest and very different kind of missionary who has come from Tanzania to work among the refugees and islanders here.

Above his desk there’s a cross made of two ribs of sunk refugee boats. Orange crosses blue. The priest is as frustrated as I am about the impossibility of speaking to arriving refugees. “We know they’ve arrived but we don’t have contact with them,” he says. On rare occasions he talks to arriving sub-Saharan Africans coming from Libya. “Life is difficult for them there. They are poorly treated in different ways. Their labor is unpaid and when they go to report it, the police pay no attention to them. It’s worse if you don’t speak Arabic.” I ask him if he’s suffering here, and he says something odd. It’s in English, so I’m sure I’ve heard it right:

“I’m suffering like a woman who is bearing a child.”

I ask him to repeat it.

“I’m suffering like a woman who is bearing a child.”

I ask him to elaborate.

“Look at the faces of those arriving. The world has to change. It’s time to look in the face of one another and learn the needs of one another. Poor people in this world don’t even have a blade of grass.”

His boss enters: Father Stefano Nastas—portly, smoking. Around him swirls a ponytailed, self-styled manservant who makes a steady stream of espressos in tiny plastic cups that remind me of the dentist’s rinse-and-spit variety. Nastas seems irritated by this Italian gadfly. He’s as down to earth as they come. He’s a Franciscan, and I notice a replica of the San Damiano Cross of St. Francis on the wall, the one that spoke to the saint centuries ago.

I ask him if, in his opinion, Lampedusa is more Europe or Africa.

“Geographically this is Africa but politically this is Europe.”

“What side of the story is the press missing?” I ask.

“The human side,” he says.

He allowed five thousand Tunisians to sleep in the church when the boats didn’t stop a few months ago. Although they were Muslims, they came to Mass and made their own gestures in front of the cross when it passed before them.

Full article here.

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