Archive for September 2013

Least Surprising News Ever

September 9, 2013

Guns are to George Zimmerman as land wars in Asia are to superpowers.  Never, ever, ever a good idea:

George Zimmerman’s estranged wife called police officers to her father’s house in Florida Monday, saying the former neighborhood watch volunteer who was acquitted of murder threatened her with a gun.

Shellie Zimmerman called police shortly after 2 p.m. Monday, said Lake Mary Police Chief Steve Bracknell.

Zimmerman hasn’t been arrested and officers were at the house trying to determine what happened, Bracknell said.

Arthur_Devis_-_John_Orde,_His_Wife_Anne,_and_His_Eldest_Son_William_-_Google_Art_Project

Early days, could be a misunderstanding, have to hear both sides, she probably had him down on the linoleum in fear for what little frontal lobe capacity he may have, yadda, yadda.

I don’t have words left for how utterly stupid American gun policy is.  But on this one?  The only surprise here is that Zimmerman beat my internal over/under on how long it would take for him to go back down this road.

Oh — and if I’m Shellie Zimmerman, I’m looking long and hard at research like this. [PDF]  No snark here; this kind of thing is (literally) deadly serious.

Image:  Arthur Devis, John Orde, His Wife Anne, and His Eldest Son William, between 1754 and 1756.

Belated (But Not Completely Outdated) Happy New Year

September 6, 2013

I know Anne Laurie handled the start-of-holiday greetings, so I’m tagging on behind, with a few hours (and roughly 100 shofar blasts) to go in Rosh Hashanah, the head of the year.

Really, I’m doing so just to give me an excuse to post this image:

Gierymski_Feast_of_trumpets_I

I know of vanishingly few fine-art images of Jewish ritual life — even fewer of views of religious practice out in the world.  So when my art-historically sophisticated wife sent this on, it was a surprise.

Anyway, I find this holiday one of those that works on me, atheist-Jew that I am.  The two stories read on the two days of services come from the Abraham cycle.  Day one, we read of the expulsion of Ishmael and Hagar from the camp.  Day two, the binding of Isaac.*  Terrifying stuff, terribly sad, much grist for thought.

And then, after the chanting is done, apples and honey all round!  As we say in my family, so to you:  may the coming year be as sweet as this apple and this honey.

*If you want to read a brilliant, horrific account of the path the Akedah — the Isaac sacrifice story — took in Jewish history, look no further than Shalom Spiegel’s classic, The Last Trial.  For an equally brilliant dissection of the literary technique in the story, the first chapter of Erich Auerbach’s Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature. is so good I believe every writer should read it.  Here’s the essay on its own. (In it, Auerbach compares the story of the sacrifice of Isaac to the scene in the Oddyssey, book 19, when Odysseus’ housekeeper recognizes the long-lost hero by the old scar on his leg.  Just a brilliant bit of literary analysis, and a great introduction to thinking about one’s own writing from the point of view of technique and desired ends.)

Image:  Alexander Gierymski, The Feast of Trumpets, 1884.