If you’re looking for a high-resolution interactive view of the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican Museum has an excellent online site that will blow you away. You’ll be able to zoom in and see even more detail of the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, or count the individual pieces in the mosaic floor. The site contains music, so be ready to turn down your speakers at work. The colors of this site do not match some other common images of the chapel’s paintings online, so you’ll still have to travel to the Vatican in real life to get a full sense of the reality of the extraordinary masterpiece(s).
The gushing Louisiana oil well is about to show that paradise is a more powerful force than political allegiances. The Florida coast and islands are threatened.
Obama has spent much of his first year+ rushing to the center, presumably building momentum for reelection in 2012. His approval of expanded offshore drilling mostly just fueled consternation among his base and defused a potential political weapon against him. He seemed to be weighing the likelihood of an unnatural disaster with the probability that he could attract centrist voters who likely think that the necessity of drilling to reduce our dependence on overseas sources of oil outweighs the risk. But now that the beaches have been threatened, watch out. The political calculation has been overturned.
The left quickly pounced on this tragedy to assert that offshore oil drilling is provably not safe. The new political question will be whether or not the practice is still necessary despite the risk. The two biggest Republican political stars in two of the most important paradise destinations have already stepped up to say no. Governor Crist of Florida and Governor Schwarzenegger of Florida have withdrawn their support for offshore drilling along their sensitive coasts. Given that these accidents can affect multiple jurisdictions, it is only normal that leaders from other states should listen to these men. Even if they do not, they may have little choice if Jimmy Buffett steps in to flex his latent political muscle.
It is interesting to compare this incident with the recent Massey coal mining incident in which many workers’ lives were also lost. The outrage we heard in the media over the coal mining disaster was focused on the loss of life and the difficulties of the families. With this oil platform disaster, however, people seem far more concerned about the economic vitality of the fishermen and of the ecosystem on which their industry and their states’ tourism economies rely.
After the initial shock of the impending beach disaster wears off, people are going to find new sources of anger. For example, some beach restoration projects have had their sand displaced to help block at-risk areas from being invaded by the sludge. More importantly, concern about the loss of life will also return, questioning offshore drilling’s overall viability. The effects will linger.
Messing with paradise is bad business. BP needs to double down on their efforts to protect the places that people love or else face a paradisiacal backlash stronger than most people’s religious and political motivations. Unlike making mistakes in those realms, destroying people’s favorite places will be an unforgivable offense that will linger in the minds of affected residents for the rest of their lives and perhaps even in the minds of their offspring.
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The devastation caused by the 2010 Chilean earthquake, which was 500 times as powerful as the recent Haitian earthquake, merits attention. Unfortunately, the US has been fixated on the tsunami that was headed for Hawaii. The possible destruction of various pieces of low-lying paradise upstaged the real tragedy of an earthquake felt for a thousand miles.
In the end, it seems that the water got a little murky near the Big Island, but that’s it for Hawaii. Yet where is all the attention about the earthquake? News organizations like CNN and MSNBC couldn’t stop drooling at the possible destruction heading for Hawaii. Look at the relative size of the images from CNN’s US homepage on the evening of February 27th directly concerning Chile:
Here’s the main video still image and headline in the center of the page to the right of the photo above (not playable):
In a tiny headline below the smaller photo, they point out that currently 214 are known to have died. Does the country’s attention really rest here? Even the respectable New York Times can’t avoid making Hawaii part of its headline:
If you are looking for a good charity to which you can make a useful donation, consider Doctors Without Borders. They have sent a team to assess the situation, and even if they deem that they are not needed to any great degree there, your money will be appropriately in places like Haiti.
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art is getting into the spirit of Discovery Channel’s Shark Week with their advertising for an exhibit called American Stories: Paintings of Everyday Life, 1765–1915, which runs from February 28 to May 23, 2010. Check out this dramatic scene of a young swimmer being rescued from hungry sharks featured in several ads running prominently on the LA Times website:
Everybody loves to hate sharks, and given the success of everyday Jaws-frenzied initiatives why wouldn’t a museum latch onto that style of promotion to draw more people into the art world? I’m not sure what else they could mean by “Paintings of Everyday Life” in America because, while shark images are everywhere, people are not getting attacked by them daily, even in the early moments of the Republic.
Okay, so this 14-year-old boy was apparently just enjoying some “everyday” swimming in Havana when he was attacked and lost part of his right leg, which is craftily cropped by the artist (and even more by the graphic designer of this ad)—a dramatic story. According to that page, he went on to become the “brief” but everyday Lord Mayor of London.
The painting is called “Watson and the Shark” and was painted by John Singleton Copley, “America’s most important colonial painter,” in 1778 (oil on canvas, 71 3/4 x 90 1/2 in.). It is part of the permanent collection at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, purchased in 1963. This image was supplied to LACMA courtesy of the Board of Trustees of the National Gallery of Art.
The image in the ads seems to have been lightened a bit compared to the version featured online. They were perhaps trying to better match the painting’s colors with the red-white-blue gradients that drift across the exhibit’s logo. Most importantly, they really illuminated my favorite part of the painting, which is the shark’s ear—just your everyday shark with an ear.
A vertical version of the ad also exists, which may lead people to believe that the swimmer is a woman and that the shark might not be an anthropomorphized mutant:
According to the NGA’s website, Copley painted a full-sized replica of this painting that now hangs in Boston and a smaller version that finds its home in Detroit. The real-life boy’s name was Brook Watson. You can read more about him and the painting at this link, which is the source of the information above. A full bibliography for the museum’s web features is also available here. A story of the presumed and possible sources of the painting’s inspiration can also be found here, with photo credits for non-museum images here.
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