Tuesday, August 28, 2007

"I Have a dream" anniversary

It was given 44 years ago today, by certainly one of the greatest English-language orators ever recorded. Right up there with Churchill, JFK, and MacArthur as my favorites. American Rhetoric has a full-length copy right here. Skip to the last half-cm or so if you dont want to hear it all.

Some of my personal favorites are just rhetorical flourishes or turns-of-phrase (I'm not sure if that should be hyphenated...I'm keeping it because it looks good) that exemplify MLK's oratorical genius. A few that don't get mentioned much are:

"but we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt"

"in the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred."

"we are not satisfied and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream"

I was pretty sure that I had heard Obama mention this last line in the speech announcing his candidacy, so I googled it. Well. Turns out that "justice roll down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream" is from Amos 5:24, in the good, old King James version of the bible (not so nice in other versions: "And roll on as waters doth judgment, And righteousness as a perennial stream"). I never even got to Obama.

Anyway, please listen, at least to the last 30 secs to 1 minutes of MLK's speech. It will give you chills. He rallies everyone, and then builds to a delirious crescendo: "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

Nice. Very nice. Still goose-bumpy here.

Bizarre Furor over Lucy, our Ancestor

So, check out this article, or this TIME one, about the first exhibit in a globetrotting 6-year voyage of the bones of Lucy, our 2.3 million year old ancestor. There appears to be some long-drawn out debate over whether its appropriate to be moving these kinds of objects around, or to exploit african countries, or something. I am a bit perplexed by the various arguments, having myself always been a fan of seeing the real thing myself. On one side is the renowned (but a little patronizing and batty) Richard Leakey:

"This iconic fossil is a unique biological specimen that should never be placed at risk: travel, packing, unpacking and handling exposes the skeleton to dangers that are unacceptable," says Leakey. "The decision to send Lucy on tour to the U.S. and perhaps elsewhere is to be deplored by any right-minded person."
"I definitely think that Lucy should not have been sent to America. ... Unique biological specimens and fossils such as Lucy are for science and should be retained in their country of origin,"
"Nobody will benefit from Lucy's tour apart from American museums, which are exploiting Africa's resources," he said.
This last bit is rich. According to TIME,
To borrow her, HMNS agreed to pay the Ethiopian government an undisclosed fee — estimates range from $300,000 to several million dollars — plus part of the proceeds from ticket and museum-store sales, money that the government has promised to Ethiopian museums. Ethiopian officials are also hoping that Americans who come to see Lucy in Houston or on tour might come to see Ethiopia too.
I fail to see how this is exploitative, especially since this is the fee for ONE museum, among presumably about half a dozen that will show these bones. I can see an argument (made by ECOH in the TIME article) that the money will just line the pockets of various Ethiopian officials and hardly benefit anyone. In addition, this last bit, about touting Ethiopia for tourism, will have to be synchronized with, you know, an actual campaign. So that will have to materialize. That being said, I think Leakey is out-to-lunch when he says this is exploitative. I object to a bunch of other things he said too. Saying that Lucy's tour should be "deplored by any right-minded person" is spitting in the face of any reasonable opposition. And to say that 'unique biologic specimens and fossils such as Lucy are for science and should be retained in their country of origin' is paradoxical, arrogant, narrow-minded, elitist, and frankly, bullshit. Especially Lucy. Especially Lucy.

First of all, I don't understand what the 'for science' part has to do with being retained in their country of origin, considering that regardless his opposition to Lucy's move, Leakey did at least acknowledge that the American museums are going to benefit from this tour. How is that not a benefit to science? I guess he would argue that keeping them in Ethiopia is better for science ....huh? Isn't Ethiopia a poor, corrupt country potentially at risk for the kind of instability that could destroy Lucy?

Oh....wait, what he actually means is that NOT keeping them where they are irrevocably harms the fossils. But haven't they already successfully carted papyrus Dead Sea scrolls and the First Emperor's terra cotta warriors all over the world?

Oh...wait, what he actually means is they should stay in Ethiopia, so that his poor african friends wont be exploited by the big, bad, swaggering White Museum Men from the West. (The funniest part of Leakey's evil 2nd-rate museum condescension is the hilarious paradox that these guys are all geeks and nerds in pop culture).

I think that the original discoverer of Lucy (who I originally thought was Leakey) Don Johanson, has this to say, which I think is an appropriate summation:
"While I cannot overemphasize my personal concerns for Lucy's safety, a broader exposure of Lucy to the public does have great educational value. Seeing the original Lucy will surely heighten public awareness of human origins studies, particularly at a time when the validity of evolution has come under fire in our schools."

More on gay Craig

Well....I was pretty quick to the punch with this guy yesterday, I'm proud, the blogosphere has GONE NUTS over it. The most interesting piece, however, is from the Idaho Statesman. The gay Senator's hometown paper has been all over his queerness for some time now, apparently:
Over five months, the Statesman examined rumors about Craig dating to his college days and his 1982 pre-emptive denial that he had sex with underage congressional pages.
This was all apparently instigated by some blog-directed accusations last year about Craig's sexuality, which apparently followed some from 1982, when he pre-emptively denied accusations of being gay, and then no-one accused him anyway. Oh the humor in the hypocrisy! Anyway, the Statesman apparently also ran down some interesting tales regarding Mr. Craig, and even has juicy bits from the transcript right here.

Catching up with ridiculous video

I posted on the china airlines crash last week here. I apparently missed some absolutely ridiculous video about it though...check it out, can you believe everyone on the plane survived!!! The image of the people sliding down that stupid chute is burnt in my retinas; I will never, ever, take the stewardess briefing lightly again (ok, maybe that's hyperbole, but I'll try not to). Meanwhile, some asshole customers are actually complaining that the flight crew gave unclear instructions...or something. Take a look at this video, then realize that ALL 157 PEOPLE ABOARD SURVIVED. HOW ON EARTH COULD THE FLIGHT CREW HAVE DONE BETTER? Perhaps if the stewardesses had served beverages after passengers deplaned off the chut?

Also interesting is that The Consumerist is reporting that it may have been caused by a loose bolt slamming into the gas tank.