Category Archives: curious

Kubrick’s boxes

I remember in my first film history class (some several lifetimes ago) being introduced to the filmmaker Howard Hawks by way of his great film ONLY ANGELS HAVE WINGS (1939). One of the distinguishing thematic marks of Hawks was how he treated death and human worth, as compared to the way John Ford did. Ford loved ritual (weddings, funerals, etc.) and formality (taking off one’s hat indoors, etc.), whereas Hawks’ themes were much more existential and about the individual apart from social conventions and obligations. A pilot dies and what’s left of him are just a handful of belonging that get divided up among the other pilots. That’s it. No need for weeping or even remembering too much. For how harsh this might seem, it raises an interesting question of what we can really know about anyone from what physical objects they leave behind. The desire to know, and to sift through the objects of the deceased, intensifies if the individual in question was a genius artist.

So it goes in regards to the late Stanley Kubrick and his many boxes…


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“Stravinsky is waiting…”

I love this video clip. It is of a moment when Julian Bream has maneuvered himself into a meeting with Stravinsky. As you can see, one had to catch Stravinsky whenever and wherever one could, and Bream takes what opportunity he could find.

The apparent psycho-emotional dynamics of this meeting are also interesting. Bream, who is undoubtedly a master musician, is still nervous and desirous of approval from someone of such eminence as Stravinsky. And Stravinsky gives some “story” of always being too busy in order to not commit anything. But then he shows real interest in Bream’s playing. Kudos to Bream for being so bold.

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The Host’s Puzzle

The following fun puzzle is from The Canterbury puzzles: and other curious problems by Henry Ernest Dudeney published in 1908.

6.—The Host’s Puzzle.

Perhaps no puzzle of the whole collection caused more jollity or was found more entertaining than that produced by the Host of the “Tabard,” who accompanied the party all the way. He called the pilgrims together and spoke as follows: “My merry masters all, now that it be my turn to give your brains a twist, I will show ye a little piece of craft that will try your wits to their full bent. And yet methinks it is but a simple matter when the doing of it is made clear. Here be a cask of fine London ale, and in my hands do I hold two measures—one of five pints, and the other of three pints. Pray show how it is possible for me to put a true pint into each of the measures.” Of course, no other vessel or article is to be used, and no marking of the measures is allowed. It is a knotty little problem and a fascinating one. A good many persons to-day will find it a by no means easy task. Yet it can be done.

The Solution

The puzzle propounded by the jovial host of the ” Tabard” Inn of Southwark had proved more popular than any other of the whole collection. “I see, my merry masters,” he cried, “that I have sorely twisted thy brains by my little piece of craft. Yet it is but a simple matter for me to put a true pint of fine old ale in each of these two measures, albeit one is of five pints and the other of three pints, without using any other measure whatsoever.”

The host of the ” Tabard” Inn thereupon proceeded to explain to the pilgrims how this apparently impossible task could be done. He first filled the 5-pint and 3-pint measures, and then, turning the tap, allowed the barrel to run to waste, a proceeding against which the company protested, but the wily man showed that he was aware that the cask did not contain much more than eight pints of ale. The contents, however, do not affect the solution of the puzzle. He then closed the tap and emptied the 3-pint into the barrel; filled the 3-pint from the 5-pint; emptied the 3-pint into the barrel; transferred the two pints from the 5-pint to the 3-pint; filled the 5-pint from the barrel, leaving one pint now in the barrel; filled 3-pint from 5-pint; allowed the company to drink the contents of the 3-pint; filled the 3-pint from the 5-pint, leaving one pint now in the 5-pint; drank the contents of the 3-pint; and finally drew off one pint from the barrel into the 3-pint. He had thus obtained the required one pint of ale in each measure, to the great astonishment of the admiring crowd of pilgrims.

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>Considering businesses flying government flags


I am curious. What is it with businesses and flags?
There is some sense in a state capitol having a state flag out front, or the U.S. Capitol building having the Stars and Stripes waving out front. But why is it necessary for a business to have a U.S. flag, a state flag, and even a flag with the business’s name or logo on it? I ask this, in part, because government flags in front of buildings have become so ubiquitous that we barely notice them, and when we do we never ask why are they there.
I suppose most people would give a quick unthinking kind of answer, a kind of “isn’t it obvious?” answer. But stop for a moment and wonder if it really is so obvious, or should be so obvious.
What are flags anyway?
Flags are symbolic representations of something bigger. The Stars and Stripes “stand” for the United States of America, all that is good and all that is bad. That is why some people salute the U.S flag, yeah even get tears in there eyes at it presence, and others burn the flag, even get tears in their eyes as well, but for other reasons.
When a business flies a flag it is showing us a symbol for something that represents that company. So a U.S. flag, in this sense, stands not only for the country but for the business as well. The business is “claiming” the symbol as being meaningful to the business. 
Personally I find flags interesting, but troubling as well, especially when the flag represents a state or government. People have fought and died for the Stars and Stripes. That’s a big deal for a lot of people. For that reason alone it seems almost demeaning to the flag (and those who have died) for any business – like a car dealership – to wave the flag outside as a means of advertising their business. On the other hand, I find it sad and problematic that anyone would willingly or unwillingly die for a state (in this sense a nation state). Flags are part of the ongoing problem we call humanity and what emerges from that humanity is sin (among other things). People get tribal, power hungry, territorial, and vain. People kill each other and even like doing so. Governments, such as the violent and all too self-righteous U.S. government, wave flags and create mythologies around those flags. Government flags are about power. The U.S. is a great country in many ways, but it is also a country of countless problems and even atrocities. For that reason it is also troubling to fly the flag in front of a business.
It is better to not fly the flag. There is no need to do so and probably several excellent reasons not to. Anyway, as I stated at the beginning, I am curious.

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>bike tricks 1899/1901


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>Awareness Tests


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Filed under bicycling, curious, Psychology

>The Crisis Now: Harman & Harvey on our (re)current economic troubles

>Given our current economic crisis (haven’t we been here before?) maybe this would be a good time to see what the communists have to say.

Here is Chris Harman speaking on how we got into this stinking mess:

Harman references several times the talk given by David Harvey. Here is Harvey:

I have to say I like a lot of what they say (in fact I think they are often spot on), but at times they come across a little too simplistic and a little too much like they are preaching to the choir (but Harman is a hoot, ain’t he). This is where some good reading will help. This last weekend I spent about ten hours on American Airlines reading Das Capital. It’s both great and a slog. Many pages left to get through that beast. Then on to other books and more perspectives. Bye for now comrades.

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Filed under American history, curious, Life, memory, Philosophy, Politics, Socialism, technology