November 30, 2005

Current Event: Cowardly or Courageous I

It is clear to me that what the public requires is the new. In that spirit, I bring you another series. Unlike Thursday Tragedy or Triumph (which will run tomorrow, yes, I took Thanksgiving off, but no, I'm not gone forever), Current Event: Cowardly or Courageous will run on whatever day I feel like running it. Its format will be similar to Thursday Tragedy or Triumph:
1. I will present a current event, both providing a brief explanation of the event and a link or two to further illuminate it.
2. I will then, in the extended entry, determine whether the event is Cowardly or Courageous. This dichotomy has been inspired by a segment on the BBC Radio's "World Have Your Say", in which they asked callers to comment on whether John Murtha's call for withdrawl was Cowardly or Courageous. I thought it was hilarious to reduce a current event to such a silly pair of options (especially in light of the most junior member of the House's comments), so I have been inspired to provide you with current events broken down simply.
3. However, I would encourage you to, if you so desire, state your opinion: Cowardly or Courageous? Please stick to the dichotomy.

This week's Current Event: Cowardly or Courageous? involves Brits, Blair, and Bombs. Actually, there aren't any Bombs, but there is some nuclear power, so I guess its close. Here's an excerpt of the Reuters article:

"Anti-nuclear protesters staged a rooftop demonstration on Tuesday in a hall where British Prime Minister Tony Blair was due to launch a major review of Britain's future energy needs, forcing him to deliver his speech elsewhere.

Speculation is rife that Blair favors a new generation of nuclear power stations to help fill a looming energy gap.

The Greenpeace protesters, dressed in suits to mix in with the business audience, clambered into the rafters of the conference center shortly before Blair was due to speak, dropping leaflets, saying: "Nuclear: Wrong Answer"..."

My question to you is: Are the actions of the Greenpeace protesters Cowardly or Courageous? I will answer this question in the extended entry, but feel free to think for yourself!

Cowardly.

Blair is right. Nuclear power is the cleanest power production technology we have available to us, and every country that can safely use it, should. Yes, nuclear reactors produce nuclear waste, which is extremely toxic. However, the amounts of waste they produce are infintesimal compared to the amounts produced by fossil fuel methods. Its not like Nevada is running out of room in which to store nuclear waste. And there's always Arkansas.

("Alternative" energy technologies, like wind and solar, are valuable and will become more valuable as our fossil fuel supplies wind down in the next couple centuries; but let's not kid ourselves about how much power they can generate. Its not like they don't have their own sets of problems).

November 17, 2005

Thursday Travesty or Triumph V

Sacro Bosco at Bomarzo, incl. Leaning House


Unfortunately Thursday Travesty or Triumph missed yet another week last week due to the unfortunate image incident, but its back this week, with something for you to vote!vote!vote! on. Today's selection is the "Sacro Bosco" (enchanted forest) at Bomarzo (sometimes simply referred to as "Bomarzo", but that's really the name of the town that its in/near). We're backing up a bit here, as the past couple Travestys/Triumphs have been modernist works -- Bomarzo was built by an Italian military captain, Count Orsini, between the date on which he inheirted the property, 1542, and the date on which he died, 1585. Slightly unfortunately, it is now maintained as a bit of a gawdy tourist attraction by its current owner (and advertised as the "Parco dei Mostri", Park of the Monsters), but we also have to thank the current owner for restoration work begun in the 1970s.

The Sacro Bosco is an unusual product of its time -- it is a contemporary of such Italian Renaissance gardens as Villa D'Este and Villa Lante (which I'm sure you can find lots more of by doing a quick google image search). Those gardens are characterized by their careful terracing and steps, use of statuary and water, and most importantly axial symmetry. While the Sacro Bosco features an enormous amount of statuary (which define the meaning of the garden), but it is quite lacking in axial symmetry and is much, much less formal than its contemporaries.

bomarzo_1.jpg

It was intended as an elaborate progression that renders the experience of the garden similar to the experience of a written work, which is rather typical of Renaissance gardens (and some earlier Western gardens); however, since an excellent elaboration of the progression can be found here, I will refrain from providing one. I do suggest that you take the time to quickly browse through that site if you are interested in seeing the progression of the garden, though. For my purposes, it will suffice to describe a couple of the more striking points in the journey:

1. The Hell Mask
"The legend above the Hell Mask, drawn from Dante, reads in translation: 'Cast away every thought, you who enter here.' But instead of embarking upon a terrifying journey into the underworld, Orsini's guests were actually being invited into a banquet pavilion. The huge stone tongue within the Hell Mask served as as table and its eyes as windows." (Elizabeth Barlow Rogers, Landscape Design)

Hell Mask - click to enlarge

2. Giant tearing Young Man Apart (scene from Orlando Furioso)
This sculpture is typical of the arcane symbolism that infuses the Sacro Bosco -- Orlando Furioso is not exactly a well known story (or at least, I don't think it is), but its provided Orsini the opportunity to commission a striking sculpture. Another along this lines is the elephant sculpture, which portrays one of Hannibal's elephants totting a dead legionnaire. (There are also many more "classical" sculptures of various Greco-Roman deities and significant personnages).

Giant Ripper

3. The Temple
The garden culminates in a perfect classical temple, which restores order, balance, and symmetry (contrast with the leaning house featured in the picture at top). It is said that the Duke built the entire garden in response to the death of his beloved wife; it is certain that the final temple is dedicated to her, and that it is meant to indicate the rest the he found with her (leading to the obvious conclusion that the rest of the property indicates the confusion and lack of rest he found without her). At any rate, it is certainly a striking conclusion to the bizzare journey.

Temple

The Bleeding Heart Show

I should not be up this late working on something so insignificant, but the flushing of my images (I assume its accidental like funke's) has prompted me to give the old internet face a much needed shave. So what do you loyal readers think? Easier to read? Harder to read? Attractive? Ugly? I'm not entirely sure about the orange for the links, I think I may go to yellow, but I'm going to give them a bit of time. I do like orange/blue color scheme, so maybe it will grow on me.

November 12, 2005

November 9, 2005

Left foot right foot

I suppose there's two different ways of looking at the French riots:
Way 1
Way 2
I lean towards way 1, but I wouldn't mind being wrong.

November 8, 2005

November 4, 2005

Smelling like farenheit

If you happen to know who Kasey Keller is, you'll probably find this a bit humorous (he's an American goalkeeper playing for a German team, Borussia Mönchengladbach):

(courtesy of Seitenwahl):

Mascot is now deeply afraid of Kasey
10/24/2005

Jünter, Borussia's mascot, has admitted being afraid of what comes next in the relationship with Kasey Keller after that post-match incident on Saturday. Jünter exclusively said: "Kasey is a mad dog, I know from the first day he was around. Everyone remembers how he gave me a gulp of his isotonic water after Bielefeld last season and not just at that point I thought he would be a great animal welfarist. He always looked after me, slapped on my back and so on. It was great, I thought he would be a good friend. But now I feel we could be at a turning point. Not just how he snared me out there, how he roughly smashed me onto the cold and wet floor, but also how he encouraged other members of the team to catch me whenever possible has let me being afraid of what might be around the corner. Believe me, this guy is dangerous to public safety!"

However, Borussia's supporters liked what they saw. The post-match incident was one of the hottest topics in the hours after the win over Kaiserslautern. Lucky Kasey, the German FA has confirmed smashing your own mascot is not something one could receive a ban for ...

Here are the shocking images (click here and scroll down if you can't see them here for whatever reason):


November 3, 2005

Thursday Travesty or Triumph IV

Well, its been quite a long time, didn't expect to take quite this long to get my intravenous hookup back in, but sometimes when you disconnect the shock can really stick it to you. Or there could be some funkalicious connection issues with the covblogs server that annoy you.

Well, the topic this time was a bit harder to pick. I wasn't entirely sure what direction to go in, but I've settled on something a bit bigger than the past couple: the Bradford redesign, executed by the firm of one Will Alsop (Alsop Ltd -- good luck interpreting the website, if you can understand its form and function, please come back and let me know what you've discovered). At any rate, what we have here is a project that doesn't lack in ambition. Its a wild redesign of the city of Bradford in England; Bradford has a bit of history, as do most English cities, but on the whole is unremarkable (the Bronte sisters, shudder, appear to be Bradford's most famous residents).

Panoramic View of Bradford as seen today

Bradford's redesign attempts to seperate the city into four parts: The Bowl, The Channel, The Market & The Valley, each intended to have distinctive 'feel' and emphasis:

the-masterplan-sml.jpg

The theory behind the new districts is an attempt to reconnect Bradford with its historical linkage to waterways (Bradford being a corruption of Broadford)-- thus the Bowl features a massive lake, the Channel digs a long canal and attempts to inspire development along the new waterfront, and the Valley includes a restored wetlands habitat. The Bowl, where City Hall is located, is probably the centerpiece of his plan, and can be seen here:

groundswell_2.jpg

The lake there is completely new and in the rather odd shape of a speech bubble. In the bottom left of the image, you can also see the "Sensory Garden", detailed in this first image (technically the Sensory Garden is in the Valley, so you can see that these districts are not seperated by any great distance):

Bradford-Garden.jpg

I have also handily provided you with a detail of the Bowl as seen at the groundplane:

Boardwalk.jpg

The wetlands portion of the project, which I believe is located in the "Valley" portion of the project, is a bit more traditional; it is included primarily for its environmental impact, but is also expected to provide a place for birdwatching and so on:

Wetlands.jpg

Should you care to explore Bradford's regeneration plan in more depth, the city has set up a rather detailed and excellent website here (you can even watch a film about the redevelopment plan). Aslop's plan was also featured in MoMA's "Groundswell" exhibition, which can be explored through the book version or visited at MoMA's website (requires flash).