Of Billionaires and Fashion Models

Orazio Gentileschi (Italian, 1563 – 1639)
Danaë and the Shower of Gold, 1621 to 1623, Oil on canvas
161.5 × 227.1 cm (63 9/16 × 89 7/16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

You may have heard about how Zeus would fall in love with mortal women and transform himself into various disguises to have his way with them. In all, there were approximately twenty, ranging from Alcmene to Thyia. The one I found most interesting was Danaë, daughter and onlyc hild of the King of Argos, Acrisius. The story is as follows, according to Wikipedia:

Disappointed by his lack of male heirs, King Acrisius asked the oracle of Delphi if this would change. The oracle announced to him that he would never have a son, but his daughter would, and that he would be killed by his daughter’s son. At the time, Danae was childless and, meaning to keep her so, King Acrisius shut her up in a bronze chamber to be constructed under the court of his palace (other versions say she was imprisoned in a tall brass tower with a single richly adorned chamber, but with no doors or windows, just a sky-light as the source of light and air). She was buried in this tomb, never to see the light again. However, Zeus, the king of the gods, desired her, and came to her in the form of golden rain which streamed in through the roof of the subterranean chamber and down into her womb. Soon after, their child Perseus was born.

But then, isn’t that the way that all ugly billionaires woo fashion models (including our current President)?

The painting by Orazio Gentileschi is a recent acquisition of the Getty Center which I saw a couple of weeks ago. I like the way that the gold is shown as a shower of gold coins, which appears to be quite acceptable to the young lady.

Living with Azuma Hikari

Azumi Hikari Is Gatebox’s Initial Release of a Personal Miniature Robot

It was my friend Bill Korn who told me about Gatebox. In today’s Japan, there are fewer marriages, fewer births, and a larger population of the aged as time goes on. You can read about it in an Economist article entitled “I Don’t: Most Japanese Want to Be Married but Are Fining It Hard.” To help young Japanese salarymen hold themselves together while waiting for what may or may not occur, Gatebox has released a personal robot for $3,000 about as big as a coffeemaker.

You can see the introductory character, Azumi Hikari, at work in this two-minute video:

What disturbs me is that Miss Azumi is a manga character with a child’s body, such that it reminds me of pedophilia more than anything else. When its owner walks in the door, she does a little dance of joy like a child. She even calls him on his cell phone and tries to wheedle him into coming home from work early. I don’t know whether I want to be the master of a child slave who is a projected figure several inches high in a glass tube.

Of course, sex is completely out of the question, unless you want to turn yourself into some sort of manga projection. I’m sure Gatebox will have to field a few thousand queries about that.

You can read a review of the product in this PC Magazine review entitled “Gatebox Virtual Home Robot Wants You to Be Her Master.

 

 

From Out of Nowhere: Bam! Nibiru!

It’s All Over This Saturday

For feeble-minded Christians, especially those who believe in all the cockamamie conspiracies that are “revealed” by self-proclaimed prophets, Earth can possibly be destroyed this coming Saturday by a roving hidden planet that no one has seen yet. That planet has variously been called Nibiru and Planet X (among other things). That’s the prediction of David Meade, a self-published author whose subject matter is astrology and the Bible. How can such a planet, supposedly larger than the Earth, be at one and the same time invisible and moving very, very fast?

This whole Nibiru/Planet X catastrophe has been predicted several times before. Even Meade originally set the date in October, but revised his prediction because of the recent eclipse. I would have thought he would base his prediction on that well-known Beast of the Apocalypse, Donald J. Trumpf—but no.

Sometimes I think these Christian conspiracy theorists have altogether too much time on their hands.

My suggestion is that, on Sunday, September 24, the survivors of the Nibiru disaster gather together to mock David Meade and his kind. You can do so by contacting him at DavidMeade7777@gmail.com—if, that is, he doesn’t close that e-mail account beforehand.

 

The White Savior Industrial Complex

Poverty in South Africa

I am not one to like Twitter, especially as misused by the Trumpf as a way to short-circuit rational discourse. Sometimes, it is good to have one’s ideas overturned, in this case by a talented writer/photographer named Teju Cole. Although born in the U.S., Cole was raised in Nigeria and returned to this country to attend college. The following is a series of Tweets written under the name @tejucole that were published by The Atlantic in 2012. The subject? The White Savior Industrial Complex. Here are the tweets, min order:

1- From Sachs to Kristof to Invisible Children to TED, the fastest growth industry in the US is the White Savior Industrial Complex.
2- The white savior supports brutal policies in the morning, founds charities in the afternoon, and receives awards in the evening.
3- The banality of evil transmutes into the banality of sentimentality. The world is nothing but a problem to be solved by enthusiasm.
4- This world exists simply to satisfy the needs—including, importantly, the sentimental needs—of white people and Oprah.
5- The White Savior Industrial Complex is not about justice. It is about having a big emotional experience that validates privilege.
6- Feverish worry over that awful African warlord. But close to 1.5 million Iraqis died from an American war of choice. Worry about that.
7- I deeply respect American sentimentality, the way one respects a wounded hippo. You must keep an eye on it, for you know it is deadly.

Teju Cole

These seven Tweets showed that the medium has the capability of carrying on discourse rather than just shutting it down. But then, not everyone is as witty and perspicacious as Teju Cole. I will write more about him as I investigate his books and photography.

Florida … Going, Going, Gone!

The Only Part of Florida I Really Like Are the Keys

Whatever you may think of Florida, and whatever you may think of global warming, Florida is sinking into the sea. Back when I was an infant, I used to live in Lake Worth, Florida, just south of West Palm Beach. My Dad didn’t like it much at all: With his delicate st0mach, he didn’t like to pick up the bodies of dead alligators, load them into a truck, and unload them at their final destination.

For a while in the 1980s and 1990s, my parents owned a condominium in Hollywood, at a place called Carriage Hills. I visited them from time to time, but had difficulties with the heat and humidity. Not that I saw much of the state, but I did go several times down to the Keys, which I loved. The first time was right after Hurricane Andrew struck. I was so amazed at miles of houses and apartments sans roofs that I kept accidentally exiting at all the offramps.

The highest point in the state is only 345 feet, and that’s near the Georgia border. Miami’s elevation is between six and seven feet. As glacial and polar ice continues to melt, Florida will assume a different shape in the years to come:

What Florida Will Look Like in the Not Too Distant Future

The left is Florida as it looks today. At the right, you can see what a five- and ten-meter rise in water level will do to the peninsula. You can kiss Miami goodbye.

Where It All Began

Sayyid Qutb in an Egyptian Prison

Islamic fundamentalism of the jihad variety began a little more than half a century ago with Sayyid Qutb (1906-1966), the founder of the Islamic Brotherhood, which gave birth to al Qaeda. He is the author of several seminal works including Social Justice (1949) and Milestones (1964). He also is credited with a 30-volume commentary on the Qur’an called In the Shade of the Qur’an. Early in his career, he spent two years in the United States teaching college in Washington, DC; Greeley, CO; and Stanford University.

About American women he wrote:

The American girl is well acquainted with her body’s seductive capacity. She knows it lies in the face, and in expressive eyes, and thirsty lips. She knows seductiveness lies in the round breasts, the full buttocks, and in the shapely thighs, sleek legs – and she shows all this and does not hide it. [I always thought this was a global phenomenon]

He did not have much good to say about the tastes of the average American:

The American is primitive in his artistic taste, both in what he enjoys as art and in his own artistic works. “Jazz” music is his music of choice. This is that music that the Negroes invented to satisfy their primitive inclinations, as well as their desire to be noisy on the one hand and to excite bestial tendencies on the other. The American’s intoxication in “”jazz” music does not reach its full completion until the music is accompanied by singing that is just as coarse and obnoxious as the music itself. Meanwhile, the noise of the instruments and the voices mounts, and it rings in the ears to an unbearable degree… The agitation of the multitude increases, and the voices of approval mount, and their palms ring out in vehement, continuous applause that all but deafens the ears.

I wonder what he would think of Hip-Hop. He seems not to have liked African-Americans very much.

In the end, I think that Qutb was not very comfortable in his own skin. For one thing, although an Egyptian, his ancestry is part Indian—and we know what happened between the Hindus and the Muslims in India and Pakistan in 1948 (Hint: widespread massacres). In the end, Gamal Abdel Nasser had him imprisoned and hanged in 1966 as a threat to the emerging Egyptian nation state. Qutb and his followers were enemies of nationalism in general and advocated an Islamic government that transcended the borders of existing nation states.

Many of the Islamic terrorists of our day are inspired by entities that pay homage to Qutb, including al Qaeda and ISIS/ISIL/Daesh.

The Flip Side of Gallup

The Gallup Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial

Gallup, New Mexico, in the 21st century would be nowhere without the Indians. Window Rock, Arizona, the capital of the Navajo Nation, is a short hop away across the state line. Yet, at the same time, Gallup is a dangerous place for Indians. The problem is that, with only 22,000 inhabitants, Gallup has 39 liquor licenses, or about 19 per 10,000 people—much larger than most big cities.

The Indians come to Gallup, get drunk, and frequently die. According to a 2015 article from the Indian Country Media Network:

In 2014, 36 unnatural deaths were recorded for Natives in or around the Gallup area. Almost all were alcohol related or caused from being homeless. Seventeen of those deaths were caused by motorists killing pedestrians attempting to cross major thoroughfares or I-40. Nearly all the victims were Native. This winter, too, has begun with record-setting deaths from exposure in McKinley County—12 so far; all the victims were Native.

Another lethal practice is for drunks in cold weather to lie down on the warmer asphalt highway, fall asleep, and get run over.

I have always seen Indians of the Southwest as a national treasure. Alas, it is a treasure that we have compromised by destroying their culture and leaving them to fend for themselves in the cold cruel world of contemporary America.