Saturday, January 31, 2009

ancient sports memorabilia

There's been a fair amount of press about this Roman figurine found by archeologists in Israel. The announcement (h/t Rogueclassicism) says that is was probably used as a weight for a scale and that it originally came from Asia Minor (present-day Turkey):

We can assume that this marble weight belonged to a family of merchants who originally came from somewhere in the eastern part of the Roman Empire. Being a precious object the weight was passed down from generation to generation in the family until sometime in the fourth-fifth century CE when an unidentified merchant was so unfortunate as to stay in the public building (a hostel??) which is currently being uncovered in the Givati car park in the City of David. A very severe tremor that struck the building resulted in its complete destruction. While exposing the building the marble image was discovered amongst its ruins which constitute silent testimony of the drama that occurred in this impressive structure prior to its collapse.

One thing that caught my eye was the possibility that this represented a boxer:
The stylistic motifs that are manifested in the image, such as its short hair style, the prominent lobes and curves of the ears, as well as the almond-shaped eyes suggest that the object most likely portrays an athlete, probably a boxer. Boxing was one of the most popular fields of heavy athletics in Roman culture and more than once Roman authors mention the demand by the Roman public in general, and the elite in particular, for boxing matches. Besides the prestige and the substantial amounts of money the victors of boxing competitions won, they were also afforded the support of the emperor himself, as in the famous case of Melancomas who was Titus’ favorite boxer.

So, we are possibly looking at the Mohammed Ali or the Lebron James of the second century. Knowing that, when I look at the figurine it seems oddly familiar...

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Texas is a scary place

Nazi zombies in Austin.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Edgar Allen Poe

Last week, our dear Edgar Allen Poe turned 200. I apologize for being one week late, but how better can this be celebrated than by a YouTube of Christopher Walken reading "The Raven":

Friday, January 23, 2009

forever twelve years old

What the hell, it's Friday...

From a Times article on British place names. Some other beauties:
Some are mostly amusing, like Ugley, Essex; East Breast, in western Scotland; North Piddle, in Worcestershire; and Spanker Lane, in Derbyshire.

Others evoke images that may conflict with residents’ efforts to appear dignified when, for example, applying for jobs.

These include Crotch Crescent, Oxford; Titty Ho, Northamptonshire; Wetwang, East Yorkshire; Slutshole Lane, Norfolk; and Thong, Kent.

Titty Ho. Awesome.

UPDATE: For extra Friday weirdness, the new hip-hop theme song for the Utah Jazz. (h/t The Cowhide Globe).

Thursday, January 22, 2009

obama action figure

And why not?

From DiD via Wonkette.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

brief comment on yesterday's event

"This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed — why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath."

--President Obama's inaugural address.

So much has been written about yesterday's inauguration -- the emotion surrounding it, its historic nature -- and I don't have a great deal to add. I just wanted to mention that less than 42 years ago, in my lifetime, my own wedding would have been illegal in sixteen states. President Obama's achievement, which he would be the first to recognize as our common national achievement, is glorious.

The president has some daunting tasks ahead of him. Also, racism in this country is far from dead and it's time for us to address other injustices in our marriage laws. Still, I am happy to drink in this moment.

"From the dream to history," L'Unita.

PS: There's a great article in the Times about the diversity of Barack and Michelle Obama's family.

Monday, January 19, 2009

manhattan snowfall

Days like these the light becomes muted and the colors only whisper. Tree branches and cornices are outlined in white and you see how harmonious the edges of things are here. Briefly, the city feigns an air of something like serenity and softness and for an hour you forgive it its unforgiving winters.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


The prize.

This blog post is actually an entry for a contest -- Lisa Falzon, a Maltese/Irish (very cool combination) artist whose blog I have been enjoying has a sweepstakes with her "Valentine Joyride" piece as a prize. I recommend stopping by her blog and checking out her work. It's whimsical without being naive, surreal but not clumsily so. She is the most generous of magicians, explaining often how she gets her fascinating effects. Stop by and enjoy.

Monday, January 12, 2009

things go from bad to worse

Seventeenth-century representation of Jerusalem.

Things are not getting any better in Israel and Palestine. Almost a thousand Palestinians have been killed and Israel is expanding their offensive. At the same time, it seems that the Israeli Elections Committee has banned Israeli Arab parties. Josh Marshall gives some context here, but it is still disturbing.

Meanwhile it seems that almost all the discussion and reporting on the issue is one-sided and simplistic. Let me state my position: I am pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian, anti-Hamas and against current Israeli policy. I oppose what the Israeli government is doing now in the same way I opposed my own government's war against Iraq: not only is it immoral, heartless, and cynical, but actually increases the long-term security problems for Israel, much like our invasion of Iraq has weakened our own security situation.

I'd like to point out some voices for sanity amidst all the screaming. William posted the reflections of our friend David Kersh, and David also put them up on his own blog. J Street defines itself as "the political arm of the pro-Israel, pro-peace movement." Richard Silverstein blogs at Tikun Olam, which is "a Mishnaic term meaning 'repair [or mend] the world'.'' Check out these resources. Let's deepen the conversation a bit.

And pray for peace.

UPDATE: Are the Israelis using chemical weapons against the civilian population? From the New York Times:

Palestinians interviewed in Gaza on Monday cited another reason for their flight: Israel soldiers, they said, are firing rounds of a noxious substance that burns skin and makes it hard to breathe.

A resident of southwest Gaza City on Monday showed a reporter a piece of metal casing with the identifying number M825A1, which Marc Garlasco, a military analyst with Human Rights Watch, identified as white phosphorus, typically used for signaling, smoke screens and destroying enemy equipment.

In recent years, experts and rights advocates have argued over whether its use to intentionally harm people violates international conventions.

Major Dallal would not say whether Israel was using white phosphorus, but said, “The munitions we use are consistent with international law.”

Still, white phosphorus can cause injury, and a growing number of Gazans report being hurt by it, including in Beit Lahiya, Khan Yunis, and in eastern and southwestern Gaza City. When exposed to air, it ignites, experts say, and if packed into an artillery shell, it can rain down flaming chemicals that cling to anything they touch.

Luay Suboh, 10, from Beit Lahiya, lost his eyesight and some skin on his face Saturday when, his mother said, a fiery substance clung to him as he darted home from a shelter where his family was staying to pick up clothes.

The substance smelled like burned trash, said Ms. Jaawanah, the mother who fled her home in Zeitoun, who had experienced it too. She had no affection for Hamas, but her sufferings were changing that. “Do you think I’m against them firing rockets now?” she asked, referring to Hamas. “No. I was against it before. Not anymore.”

Monday, January 05, 2009

Pulpy New Year!

My new year's resolution: Read more pulp!

A lovely youtube, featuring hundreds of classic Weird Tales covers (h/t: Weekend Stubble):

Weird Tales is one of those things I've known about, but never really investigated. According to the entry in Fons veritatis, it has quite the history. Not only was it a publisher of H.P. Lovecraft, but it was also the first to publish Tennessee Williams! It apparently still exists in a new incarnation, complete with a web page, and with Ann VanderMeer as fiction editor (I enjoyed the steampunk anthology she edited along with her husband Jeff). Great fun!

UPDATE: The same site has videos. This one is a beauty:

UPDATE 2: Ted at The Late Adopter has sent another great pulpy link. Speaking of pulp, sitemeter tells me my post on The Lustful Turk has been popular with visitors from all over the world.