When she was young, Manya Benenson’s dad told her a story of two frogs that fall into a bucket of cream and swim around and around. The first one gives up and drowns, the second keeps going until he finds his struggles have churned the cream to butter, and he climbs out. As a fable, she said, it could sum up the movement that the late Peter Benenson began in the Observer 50 years ago this weekend.
Sunday Reads: Pink Congo…Black and White CubaPosted: May 29, 2011
It is Sunday Morning, and today I will bring you some real interesting reads that I have found during the week. So drink that cup of coffee and enjoy today’s morning reads.
This week Amnesty International celebrated its 50th birthday. So our first article will highlight the work of an organization that has fought for human rights and freedom of speech throughout the world. Amnesty International marks 50 years of fighting for free speech | World news | The Observer
In London, the…
…celebration was held at the same Trafalgar Square church where Benenson, a bowler-hatted barrister, slipped away from work in 1961 and sat alone to dream up what has become the world’s most renowned human rights organisation.
He had been enraged by reading a newspaper account of the arrest in Portugal of two students, whose crime had been to raise a toast to freedom. Benenson died in 2005 and yesterday his daughter Manya, 35, lit the Amnesty candle, symbolically ringed by barbed wire, in his memory, along with Wai Hnin Pwint Thon, a Burmese refugee whose father is serving a 65-year jail sentence for organising peaceful protests against the military junta in 2007.
Reading this article makes you think of just how much we need people like Benenson who come up with ideas and actually see them through.
To celebrate Amnesty International’s 50th anniversary, the Guardian and the Observer have started a new online series. Every month we will publish news of an ‘urgent action’; that is a current case of human rights abuse that Amnesty would like to draw wider attention to
So be sure to bookmark that link.
I am currently reading a book about war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo written by Jason Stearns. These next two links will give you a glimpse of the Congo like you never have seen it.
Soldiers’ uniforms turn purple, vegetation magenta … the infrared film used by photographer Richard Mosse forces us to see the conflicts of Congo in different ways
Mosse uses a discontinued infrared film developed by Kodak in the 1940′s to view camouflage in a spectrum that the human eye can’t see. So green grass and trees become various shades of pink…and the uniforms of soldiers turn purple.
Stearns has written an article for The Guardian, where he gives his thoughts about Mosse’s photographs. Shocking pink | Art and design | The Guardian
Imagine 5.4 million deaths. It overloads the mind. There is no sliding scale of moral outrage, increasing in direct proportion to human suffering. The indignation we feel at 10 innocent deaths is not magnified 10 times if there are 100 such fatalities. Instead, our heartstrings are more likely to be tugged by a human face, a tragic story.
This has been the curse of the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It’s too complex to craft into a simple narrative. Over the past 15 years, more than 40 different armed groups have fought across a country the size of western Europe. There are no clear heroes and too many villains, no good-guy-v-bad-guy tale to spin. While the number of people who have died is on the same scale as the Cambodian and Rwandan genocides, only around 300,000 were killed; the rest – disproportionately children – perished unsensationally due to disease and hunger caused by the fighting.
Look at that image above, seeing the bright pink of those rolling hills with the purple and lavender hues of the soldiers uniforms, whose machine guns are still a stark black color. A contrast of black metal against a rosy glow of pink.
Richard Mosse’s pictures of Congo draw from a different palette of colours, literally. Using recently discontinued Kodak infrared film, his photographs turn the vegetation of the eastern Congo into jarring magenta, while the soldiers’ uniforms go purple. It feels as if we have fallen down a rabbit hole, into a more surreal space. Congo always felt that way to me, as if the regular colour spectrum, the usual yardsticks we have, do not quite hack it.
Take a look at those photographs. They really are something to see.
This next link is quite extraordinary. It is about two little girls, twins, joined at the head. This condition is called craniopagus, and it is extremely rare. In fact only one in 2.5 million twins have fused skulls, and most do not survive. What is even more strange about these girls, it seems that the thalmus of one sister is connected to the thalmus of the other. Could Conjoined Twins Share a Mind? – NYTimes.com
Krista reached for a cup with a straw in the corner of the crib. “I am drinking really, really, really, really fast,” she announced and started to power-slurp her juice, her face screwed up with the effort. Tatiana was, as always, sitting beside her but not looking at her, and suddenly her eyes went wide. She put her hand right below her sternum, and then she uttered one small word that suggested a world of possibility: “Whoa!”
In any other set of twins, the natural conclusion about the two events — Krista’s drinking, Tatiana’s reaction — would be that they were coincidental: a gulp, a twinge, random simultaneous happenstance. But Krista and Tatiana are not like most other sets of twins. They are connected at their heads, where their skulls merge under a mass of shaggy brown bangs. The girls run and play and go down their backyard slide, but whatever they do, they do together, their heads forever inclined toward each other’s, their neck muscles strong and sinuous from a never-ending workout.
So…when one little sister drinks, the other feels it. Far out.
You may have heard of those small tunnels that snake their way through the Great Pyramid. National Geographic did a show on the robots that are used to explore these tunnels which are too small for a human to fit through. Well, it now looks like they have found red hieroglyphics inside the tunnels. Mysterious markings discovered at Great Pyramid of Giza – CNN.com
A robot explorer has revealed ancient markings inside a secret chamber at Egypt’s Great Pyramid of Giza.A close-up view of the red marks on the floor in the pyramid
The markings, which have lain unseen for 4,500 years, were filmed using a bendy camera small enough to fit through a hole in a stone door at the end of a narrow tunnel.
“The big question is the purpose of these tunnels,” he added. “There are architectural explanations, symbolic explanations, religious explanations — even ones relating to the alignment of the stars — but the final word on them is yet to be written. The challenge is that no human can fit inside these channels so the only way to do this exploration is with robots.”
I wonder what these symbols mean? Could they be an ancient Egyptian form of graffiti? Does it say Pharaoh Khufu was here?
This article reminds me of a real good movie…Bubba Ho-tep.
Based on the Bram Stoker Award nominee short story by cult author Joe R. Lansdale, Bubba Ho-tep tells the “true” story of what really did become of Elvis Presley. We find Elvis (Bruce Campbell) as an elderly resident in an East Texas rest home, who switched identities with an Elvis impersonator years before his “death”, then missed his chance to switch back. Elvis teams up with Jack (Ossie Davis), a fellow nursing home resident who thinks that he is actually President John F. Kennedy, and the two valiant old codgers sally forth to battle an evil Egyptian entity who has chosen their long-term care facility as his happy hunting grounds.
Bubba Ho-Tep Official Website
It is funny as hell, and damn Bruce Campbell does an awesome job of portraying Elvis…in fact one could say Campbell is Elvis.
One of the great lines in the movie is when Elvis gets testy with a nurse. She laughs at him and we hear the voice over of Campbell aka Elvis say:
Get old, you can’t even cuss someone and have it bother ‘em. Everything you do is either worthless or sadly amusing.
From Minx’s Missing Link File: This is just too dang amazing, check it out. Electrical Implant Allows Paralyzed Man to Stand and Walk (video) | Singularity Hub
In 2006, Rob Summers was the victim of a hit-and-run. The accident left him completely paralyzed from the chest down–unable, even, to wiggle his toes. But just weeks after beginning a new cutting edge therapy in which researchers electrically stimulated his spinal cord Summers was able to stand on his own, move his hips, knees, ankles and toes, and make stepping motions on a treadmill.
After the training failed, researchers attempted a cutting edge procedure to surgically implant an epidural electrode array over the lumbosacral segments of Summers’ spinal cord. The training sessions resumed, this time while injecting direct electrical current.
It was a breakthrough in rehabilitation therapy.
In the first weeks after surgery Summers could stand on his own, providing the initial lift himself. He can remain standing up to four minutes at a time, and up to an hour with occasional help. After a few months he was able to move his hips, bend his knees, ankles and toes. Today, with the aid of a harness and an occasional helping hand, he can lift and move his feet to make stepping motions on a treadmill.
Easy like Sunday Morning Link of the Week: There are lots of cool things happening in LA this summer, and one of them is a new exhibition at the Getty Museum. Getty Museum: Cuba in pictures at the Getty Museum – Los Angeles Times
‘A Revolutionary Project: Cuba from Walker Evans to Now’ invites viewers to contemplate the country’s many contradictions through a wide array of photographs.
Geez, I wish I could see this exhibit…if any of our readers get a chance to visit the museum, please let us know!
Viewers are invited to contemplate whether the United States’ ferociously effective, decades-long economic embargo, the Cuban government’s misbegotten socialist policies, or some combination is to blame for turning the store, and countless others like it into a ghostly shell. Similar questions and Cuba’s many contradictions — physical beauty and stark impoverishment, political ideals and Cold War debacles, tragic failure and boundless potential — arise repeatedly in the exhibition, whose works span the early 1930s to the present.
“Part of what we wanted to do was to show people various sides of what Cuba is like now, because there is such a myth about not only its history but its current state of affairs,” says Judith Keller, the Getty’s senior curator of photographs.
“I think it’s the contradiction of the great potential you see in the people,” continues Keller, who visited Cuba last year with the exhibition’s co-curator, Brett Abbott, curator of photography at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta. “There literally is music on every block and people being very productive and trying to patch up their housing. But at the same time the place is crumbling, and there is no food in the shops.”
Looks like a lot of events are going on in connection with the show.
The Getty’s show, which runs through Oct. 2, is one of L.A.’s opening salvos in a months-long cultural salute to the island nation that’s taking place on both U.S. coasts this year. Upcoming happenings include a display of Cuban film posters at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, performances by the Ballet Nacional de Cuba in Costa Mesa and Los Angeles, a spotlight on contemporary Cuban cinema at the Los Angeles Film Festival, and an Aug. 24 Hollywood Bowl concert headlined by the Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club.
Here is a direct link to the museum:
Cuba’s attempt to forge an independent state has been a project under development for more than 100 years and a source of fascination for nations, intellectuals, and artists alike.
A Revolutionary Project: Cuba from Walker Evans to Now looks at three critical periods in the nation’s history as witnessed by photographers before, during, and after the country’s 1959 Revolution. The exhibition juxtaposes Walker Evans’s 1933 images from the end of the Machado dictatorship with views by contemporary foreign photographers Virginia Beahan, Alex Harris, and Alexey Titarenko, who have explored Cuba since the withdrawal of Soviet support in the 1990s.
A third section bridging these two eras presents pictures by Cuban photographers who participated in the 1959 Revolution, including Alberto Korda, Perfecto Romero, and Osvaldo Salas.
There is a PDF file that has small images of the exhibition that you can download here.
For a schedule of events: A Revolutionary Project: Cuba from Evans to Now / Events (Getty Center Exhibitions)
Hope you have a relaxing day… my mom, my daughter and her friend and I will be having a “coochie” day. This is what my daughter would call all female outings when she was in pre-school. (She would say, no “dingies” allowed… Cute huh?) We are going to the mall. It is an all day event for us, the mall is over 95 miles away from Banjoville.
So, post some links in the comments…what you reading and thinking about today?