Speaking of loathsome, misogynist creeps, former Bishop of Rome Joseph Ratzinger died this morning, as groundbreaking journalist Barbara Walters did yesterday.
In other news showing that 2022 refuses to go quietly:
And just a couple of blocks from me, Uncharted Books will reopen next week after the state closed it down for failing to file a required sales-tax form. For months. They might want to fire their accountants for this, as the state requires every business that has taxable sales to file the "quarterly sales tax report" every 3 months. I hope their soon-to-be-former accountants also filed their income taxes...
What a delight to wake up for the second day in a row and see the sun. After 13 consecutive days of blah, even the -11°C cold that encouraged Cassie and me to get her to day care at a trot didn't bother me too much.
Unfortunately, the weather forecast says a blizzard will (probably) hit us next weekend, so I guess I'll have time to read all of these stories sitting on the couch with my dog:
Finally, one of my college music professors died this month. Herbert Deutsch co-created the Moog synthesizer and taught at Hofstra University for 40-plus years.
Today is the 100th anniversary of Howard Carter poking his head into the 3,000-year-old tomb of Egyptian King Tutankhamen:
After World War I, Carter began an intensive search for Tutankhamen’s tomb and on November 4, 1922, discovered a step leading to its entrance. Lord Carnarvon rushed to Egypt, and on November 23 they broke through a mud-brick door, revealing the passageway that led to Tutankhamen’s tomb. There was evidence that robbers had entered the structure at some point, and the archaeologists feared they had discovered yet another pillaged tomb. However, on November 26 they broke through another door, and Carter leaned in with a candle to take a look. Behind him, Lord Carnarvon asked, “Can you see anything?” Carter replied, “Yes, wonderful things.”
Thus began a monumental excavation process in which Carter carefully explored the four-room tomb over several years, uncovering an incredible collection of several thousand objects. In addition to numerous pieces of jewelry and gold, there was statuary, furniture, clothes, a chariot, weapons, and numerous other objects that shed a brilliant light on the culture and history of ancient Egypt. The most splendid find was a stone sarcophagus containing three coffins nested within each other. Inside the final coffin, made out of solid gold, was the mummified body of the boy-king Tutankhamen, preserved for 3,200 years. Most of these treasures are now housed in the Cairo Museum.
Skip ahead 50 years or so into my childhood when two brilliant bits of comedy emerged as the King Tut exhibit traveled through the US. The first needs no introduction, but gets one anyway:
The second came from architect and author David Macaulay, who imagined a future archaeologist finding a late-20th-century American "tomb" in the year CE 4022. If you can find a copy of Motel of the Mysteries, read the Howard Carter story and then Macaulay's take on it. It still cracks me up.
I took Friday off, so it felt like Saturday. Then Saturday felt like Sunday, Sunday felt like another Saturday, and yesterday was definitely another Sunday. Today does not feel like Tuesday.
Like most Mondays, I had a lot of catching up at the office, including mandatory biennial sexual harassment training (prevention and reporting, I hasten to point out). So despite a 7pm meeting with an Australian client tonight, I hope I find time to read these articles:
Finally, the Hugo Awards were announced in Chicago over the weekend, and now I have a ton more books to buy.
A man attacked and seriously injured author Salman Rushdie at a lecture in upstate New York this morning:
The author Salman Rushdie, who spent years in hiding and under police protection after Iranian officials called for his execution, was attacked and stabbed in the neck on Friday while onstage in Chautauqua, near Lake Erie in western New York, the state police said.
The attack, which shook the literary world, happened at about 11 a.m., shortly after Mr. Rushdie, 75, took the stage for a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution, a community that offers arts and literary programming during the summer.
Mr. Rushdie was taken by helicopter to a local hospital, the state police said in a statement. His condition is not yet known. His agent, Andrew Wylie, said in an email Friday afternoon that Mr. Rushdie was undergoing surgery.
It was not clear what motivated the attacker.
[Rushdie] was there for a discussion about the United States as a safe haven for exiled writers and other artists who are under the threat of persecution.
While it's technically true that we don't know "what motivated the attacker," we can make a guess. If this wasn't religious extremism I'll post a public apology to religious extremists everywhere. And not for nothing, when our own home-grown Christianists get into the book-banning habit, they don't have far to go before this sort of thing happens. Fundamentalists of all kinds need to be removed from politics.
Meanwhile, as the Department of Justice reveals more details about just what TS-SCI documents related to our nuclear arsenal the XPOTUS stole from the White House, Republicans have used the warranted search as a fundraising talking point. Because they are the party of law and order. As Josh Marshall said today, "It is probably best to say that we are back in one of those fugue windows Trump Republicans have, much like January 7th-9th 2021, in which there’s a period of relative silence while a story is devised to explain why something inexplicable and indefensible is in fact awesome and totally fine."
However, to get to Sunday, I have to finish a messy update to my work project, rehearse for several hours tomorrow, figure out a marketing plan for a product, and walk Cassie for hours.
I also want to read these things:
And tonight I'm going to watch Neil Gaiman's Sandman on Netflix, which has gotten pretty good reviews.
Twenty-five years ago today, an unknown author published a short novel about wizards, witches, flying broomsticks, and the return of a once-defeated monstrous evil. Jo Rowling has gone on to become one of the most loved and most hated authors in the modern world, and the series that started with a print run of just 500 copies on 26 June 1997 has sold over a half-billion books.
Happy birthday to Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Time for a re-read.
Canadian author Margaret Atwood wrote The Handmaid's Tale in the 1980s, when the establishment of a theocracy in 21st-century Massachusetts seemed like science fiction. Today, she worries she might only have gotten the location wrong:
Although I eventually completed this novel and called it The Handmaid’s Tale, I stopped writing it several times, because I considered it too far-fetched. Silly me. Theocratic dictatorships do not lie only in the distant past: There are a number of them on the planet today. What is to prevent the United States from becoming one of them?
For instance: It is now the middle of 2022, and we have just been shown a leaked opinion of the Supreme Court of the United States that would overthrow settled law of 50 years on the grounds that abortion is not mentioned in the Constitution, and is not “deeply rooted” in our “history and tradition.” True enough. The Constitution has nothing to say about women’s reproductive health. But the original document does not mention women at all.
Let’s look at the First Amendment. It reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” The writers of the Constitution, being well aware of the murderous religious wars that had torn Europe apart ever since the rise of Protestantism, wished to avoid that particular death trap.
t ought to be simple: If you believe in “ensoulment” at conception, you should not get an abortion, because to do so is a sin within your religion. If you do not so believe, you should not—under the Constitution—be bound by the religious beliefs of others. But should the Alito opinion become the newly settled law, the United States looks to be well on the way to establishing a state religion. Massachusetts had an official religion in the 17th century. In adherence to it, the Puritans hanged Quakers.
If Justice Alito wants you to be governed by the laws of the 17th century, you should take a close look at that century. Is that when you want to live?
I sure don't. Why do Republicans?
Now that I've got a few weeks without travel, performances*, or work conferences, I can go back to not having enough time to read all the news that interests me. Like these stories:
Finally, Michelin has handed out its 2022 stars for Chicago. Nothing surprising on the list, but I now have four more restaurants to try.
* Except that I volunteered to help a church choir do five Messiah choruses on Easter Sunday, so I've got two extra rehearsals and a service in the next 12 days.
Bonus update: the fog this morning made St Boniface Cemetery especially spooky-looking when Cassie and I went out for her morning walk:
In no particular order:
- Dale Clevenger played French horn for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from 1966 to 2013. He was 81.
- Sheldon Silver went to jail for taking bribes while New York Assembly Speaker. He was 77.
- Lisa Goddard made climate predictions that came true, to the horror of everyone who denies anthropogenic climate change. She was 55.
In a tangential story, the New Yorker profiles author Kim Stanley Robinson, who has written several novels about climate change. (Robinson hasn't died, though; don't worry.)